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Jeffrey Archer was sentenced to four years' imprisonment at 12.07pm on Thursday 19th July 2001. Within six hours, Prisoner FF8282, as he is now known, was on suicide watch in the medical wing of Belmarsh top security prison in south London. This, he discovered, is standard procedure for first-time offenders on their first night in jail. By 6.00am the next morning, Archer had resolved to write a daily diary of everything he experienced while incarcerated, because "I have a feeling that being allowed to write in this hellhole may turn out to be the one salvation that will keep me sane". Jeffrey Archer's diary of his first three weeks imprisonment is a raw account of life in a top-security jail in Britain. It is also an indictment of the British penal system. The tales of his fellow inmates - many of whom are in for life - are often moving stories of hopelessness. But there are those, too, who, no matter what their previous histories, attempt to live their prison lives with dignity and integrity. Returning favours, Archer comments, is far more commonplace in prison than outside. The diary should be of interest to anyone concerned with the improvement of our penal system, whether they are concerned citizens, politicians or workers in the prison service.
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