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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Novelist's tale of two jails
Lincoln prison
Lincoln prison: overcrowded and ''pretty inhumane''
Following his transfer from an open prison, Lord Archer will no longer be driving his BMW to his job at the Theatre Royal and may now be asked to make fishing nets in Lincoln Prison workshop.

He could even be denied the 12 a week wages as a punishment for breaking prison rules on home visits.

If he remains at Lincoln, Lord Archer could spend up to 22 hours a day in a shared cell - an even harsher imprisonment than the 16-hours a day regime in south London's top security Belmarsh jail, where he was first sent after sentencing.

The Victorian Lincoln jail, a Category B prison, has about 500 remand and convicted prisoners, an excessive number according to its board of visitors.

Regular patron

Former inmate and now editor of The Prisons Handbook, Mark Leech, says the regime in Lincoln is the ''most basic''.


Archer will wake up tomorrow and realise what he has lost

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook

''He'll be there with the riff-raff of the prison system. It is regarded by some as a bit of a hell-hole, an old Victorian prison which is overcrowded and understaffed and which has some pretty inhumane conditions,'' Mr Leech said.

The biggest problem, he said, would be coming to terms with the loss of privileges.

''Archer will wake up tomorrow and realise what he has lost. It's absolutely no fun going back to somewhere like that from an open prison."

BBC correspondent Sarah Butters says Lord Archer will now have no home visits, no day release and no leisurely lunches - restaurant owners near the Theatre Royal had said he was a regular patron.

Worse still, Lord Archer's infringement will not have impressed the parole board, which could consider his case for early release next summer.

Scrubbing floors

Another celebrity who has spent time in Lincoln jail - TV presenter Johnny Vaughan, convicted of supplying cocaine - once recalled that the prison could be ''nightmarish''.

"I used to hate the time when friends who had visited were leaving and I had to go back to my cell,'' he said.

Lord Archer began his jail term in Belmarsh, where he had to scrub floors.

Lord Archer
The Parole Board may not have been impressed by the infringement

He was then moved to a medium-security facility and, late last year, to North Sea Camp after being downgraded from a Category C to a Category D "low risk" prisoner.

He no longer had to sleep in a cell and had a small TV - on which he watched cricket - a bed, locker, table and chair.

Lord Archer could roam the facility, write his novel, attend academic classes and enjoy health-conscious food.

But this is not the first time his privileges have been threatened.

He almost missed his 7pm curfew one Sunday after spending the day with his family.

He was said to have lost his way and flagged down a passing police car to ask directions.

See also:

26 Sep 02 | Politics
20 Aug 02 | UK
19 Sep 02 | England
09 Sep 02 | Politics
19 Aug 02 | England
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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