This column,"STORIES TROUGH PRISON BARS”, came from the idea of reproducing personal accounts of prisoners in each issue to provide a voice to those who experience the problems of prisons who stare the sky “through prison bars".
In this issue our idea finally takes shape after 3 years of trying to acquire permission to come in contact with prisoners and give them voice, the chance to communicate with free society, as we re-publish an article written by a prisoner from the school journal of the Special Institution for Juvenile Offenders in Avlonas . "Trying… for tomorrow" We wish to thank the school administration who granted us the material and to reassure A.K. that we will be on hand to assist his way to "the stars".
"I will try with this brief narrative to describe the events that landed me in prison for drug trafficking. I find it hard to believe that with my healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise, I became a substance abuser, and later a dealer. It was during a school occupation , where we were spending the night to support our student demands. I heard that some of my peers had marijuana, or "stuff", as we call it. It was against the principles that I had been brought up with, but nevertheless they finally convinced me to try it. I found myself split between two personalities - one was completely against it, whilst the other side was curious and wanted to try new things.
That was my downfall, it was curiosity that led me here to where I sit and write. From the point I began smoking grass, it became an obsession, I felt it was a staple in my life, like food. Later, the grass failed to deliver enough satisfaction. Thus I began "sniffing" cocaine. I told myself "Here we are, this is what I’ve been missing." I felt unique when under the influence.
My only problem was its high price. Someone from our group of users mentioned dealing as a way out of our predicament. From that moment on I stuck to a lifestyle of selling drugs rather than using them.
In my opinion, it is easier for a user to quit substance abuse than it is for a pusher to stop dealing. Unless something bad happens…I’m sure you know what I mean my friends. I wish I could describe the feeling of being arrested with a large quantity of drugs. It is disastrous, especially when you΄re financial situation is already grim. You feel that your whole world is lost and valueless.
During my first days in jail I was not properly aware of my situation. Mot people have a vague idea of what goes on in prisons, but it is a different story when you find yourself living on through prison bars. Prison means survival. You must maintain an appropriate "character" to be able to stay on your feet. I won’t mention the conditions and situation of the prison system (for prisoners and staff alike), which is vile and insidious, because it will take too long.
Thank God, there is a school in the facility I am in, and this gives us hope; a light in the tunnel as they say, for a better tomorrow. When I think of the bias of people towards ex-prisoners in the workplace, in relationships and in society in general, I worry about my future, but I won’t give up, I will fight it upon my release. Looking back, one of the countless lessons I learned is to eliminate my curiosity it kills me (a little humor doesn’t hurt!).
"May you always have the sun in front of you and the wind behind you. And the winds of fate will lead you to the stars"
A.K., 17 years old
* The text was first published in the school journal of the Special Institution for Juvenile Offenders in Avlonas entitled"Trying for tomorrow ..." in April 2009. We thank the Director of the School Mr. Petros Damianos for the kind permission to reproduce the article above.
 Avlonas is a municipality north of Athens.
“Katalipsi”, the occupation of Greek educational institutions by its students making demands has its roots in student movements of previous generations, and is practically a tradition for schoolchildren and student bodies up to the present day.