Statement of Being is a project by photographer Julia Schönstädt. Julia has photographed and interviewed several prisoners in institutions across Germany, her aim being “to dispel the stigma of the ‘criminal’ and simply make the subject human.” We will feature one pair of portrait+interview [the interview is actually an excerpt of a longer conversation] every day for six days.
Martina – 7 years
I constantly got into solitary confinement because I didn’t get on with the feds
so I got treated like the last piece of shit.
In former interviews several inmates have said that prison has saved them and given them a new chance. Do you feel the same way?
No, not at all. Just because I am doing drugs? I don’t need to be held accountable for that. Every normal person drinks and does whatever and only because I do other drugs? I have spent 7 years in jail, 4 years on §64 and I have done several therapies under §35. 15 years of my life I get locked away because I do other drugs than alcohol. I don’t think that’s normal – to be brought to justice for that.
So for you prison didn’t have any positive effects and doesn’t fulfill the aim of rehabilitation?
Maybe that’s the right thing for a murderer or a violent crime offender. But somebody who does drugs doesn’t belong there. That somebody is sick. But I am also not somebody who can conform much. I constantly got into solitary confinement because I didn’t get on with the feds so I got treated like the last piece of shit. The bad thing is, the pedophiles, they get all the rights in the world and us, only because we do drugs, get treated like animals. That’s how I see it and that’s how it is! I experienced jail more than degrading. I’m still in therapy because of that today.
Did you come out of prison more damaged than you went in?
Yes, definitely! Jail doesn’t make you stronger. It breaks you down. It breaks you really down.
Early intervention – would that have helped you do you think, and is that the right alternative?
Definitely! Because many of us women are abused and damaged. I mean, it’s not that I do drugs just for the fun of it. Many do drugs because they have been broken down by someone. And if there would have been some early stage intervention with the fathers, or whatever guys involved, many of us wouldn’t be inside and wouldn’t have to be damaged even more. I know all of these stories – 80-90% are abused women. Many who belong somewhere completely different.”