Monday, November 16, 2009

Answers, Mon 16th Nov

1. Are you happy in life?

As a manic-depressive, that depends!

2. What is the first thing you'll do when you get out?

Doesn't every prisoner dream of a decent meal, a beer and the company of a bad woman? Not necessarily in that order.

3. And is there anything I can do to help?

My Editor is attempting to find a focus point for those who would like to press for my progression or release. The Downing Street website wouldn't host a petition, so perhaps directly harassing the Ministry of Justice is the way to go. The Editor will post details of this soon.

1. How dangerous is prison?

Like life on the street, it depends on who, what, where and when. Violence in this prison is so rare as to be a single annual event of fisticuffs. In other nicks, muggings are not uncommon. Most violence seems to occur amongst young prisoners. All that testosterone coupled with fragile ego's leads to regular punch ups.

There is research that demonstrates that the chances of being involved in violence rests on such factors as sentence length, crime, economic power, number of social allies and so on. A poor, short term heroin addict with few friends is far more likely to become involved with violence that a lifer who has mates and is financially stable.

However, there are aspects of imprisonment that can ratchet up both the odds of violence and its severity. Because it is a confined space, you either have to develop the skills to avoid or defuse conflicts or trouble brews. After all, if we have a major falling out with someone, we still have to live with them day after day for what may be years. Repairing damaged relations is important, or you end up never speaking to anybody! Or being stabbed.

2. Can people survive if they just want to be left alone?

Yes, of course, although social allies are important. No man is an island, etc, and we all accept that we live in different ways. Some are hugely gregarious, forever flitting from cell to cell being social. I am more solitary; people visit me, I don't visit them, and when they become dull I kick them out.

3. Do racial groups mix?

Yes and no. People here, as out there, tend to mix with their peers. I don't have much in common with 21 year olds from urban London, for example. But there is little social stratification by race in the sense of American prison society.

4. Is radical Islam an issue?

I wrote on this at, a piece entitled "Muslims Rule!". As general proposition, in most prisons, it isn't but there are concerns in the High Security Prisons. But then the prison service are renown for jumping at shadows.


  1. Do you really suffer from manic depression?

  2. Hi Ben

    I am a mature student myself too. I have just started a MSc in contemporary issues in drug use. What was your first degree mine was in Medical Anthropology.