Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prove It!

One of the many things that the Governor and I disagree on is the prison disciplinary system.
This is a formal system, whereby a screw lays a formal charge under the Rules, leading to a hearing where evidence is heard and challenged. This is presided over by the Governor. The hearings are called Adjudications and, in a wacky hint of prison stupidity, punishments are called Awards. Those who think this system is slightly biased as the Governor is unlikely to side with the con may be right.
The Governor takes the view that when we are caught bang to rights, we should just put our hands up and take the consequences. I don't agree. If the state wants to accuse me of something then they damn well have to prove it.
As a result, I treat every Adjudication as if it could end in an execution. Over the years I have honed my knowledge of the Adjudications process and the laws that govern it to a fine art. If bored, I can drag out the simplest charge for months and drive weak minded governors to phone Headquarters for help.
A fair chunk of my spare time is spent helping others who face charges. I research their case, the details of the charge, look at the case law, and if necessary attend the hearing with them. Then I draft any appeals. I had a particularly satisfying win just the other day.
This makes the Governor a bit cross. He has never understood my fundamental point, which is nothing about my avoiding responsibility for my actions. Hell, I pleaded guilty to murder. My motive for putting up a fight is that I fail to see why I should roll over when prison staff, who are meant to be our moral example, never admit they are wrong. Ever. No matter how dumb a policy, how twisted a report, how bigoted a statement, the staff involved waft by in a haze of self-righteousness.
The day prison staff admit their mistakes and accept responsibility for their actions is the day that I will follow suit. Until then, "Ben of the Bailey" stays in business!


  1. What makes them think it's OK to accuse and punish people of something without going through the proper procedure and producing evidence when you wouldn't get away with that in any other court!?

    Going off at tangent slightly, I was thinking today: Could you go back and challenge the original verdict of your case on the basis that you were badly advised on how to plead in the original trial?

    From the way you described the events that led to your current incarceration that sounds a lot more like manslaughter than murder to my lay person's mind.

  2. Ah but Gaina, doing that would not be 'facing up to his offending behaviour' now would it? So such would in fact be counter productive to Ben's chances of getting out.

  3. Peter in Dundee said...

    Ah but Gaina, doing that would not be 'facing up to his offending behaviour' now would it? So such would in fact be counter productive to Ben's chances of getting out.

    That's insane...but hey, that's the system for you - at least it's consistent in it's stupidity!

  4. I think the adversarial system has its origins in trial by combat. This being the case, you are doing it just as it's meant to be done, and doing it proud.

  5. Glad to see my student is following in his master's footsteps.

    What governors tend to forget is that a judge is looking over their shoulder during adjudications...

  6. I think if Ben had committed his crime now,as a child murderer, he would be out within 5 - 8 years.

  7. I love Ben's attitude to this - some of the officers are so 'righteous' and of course are never wrong. There are one or two decent ones as well - but not many.