Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Decade: Conclusion

One positive opportunity did emerge from Education, the resurrection of the prison magazine. Someone suggested I be Editor in Chief and so I organised a coup to remove the incumbent. Note for future self - meetings really do go a lot simpler if you organise the votes beforehand! He was out, I was in, and my reign of Stalinist editorial terror began.

Prison magazines are strange animals, perpetually attempting to survive against broad staff hostility and seeking a fine line between being interesting and being inflammatory. This is just the political territory that appeals to me and I had a vision to create a magazine that would actually reflect the views of the men on the landings. Whilst I couldn't expect the Governor to fund us to abuse him, it could also not ignore genuine issues and problems. And so prison magazines are more about politics than actual production.

The crew who worked with me were of mixed abilities and interests but all knew my approach to management and so had faith that I had a good plan and was determined to deliver it. Only that saved me from being lynched, as I adopted a rather firm management style. A man who whispered about democratic decision making was quietly shot.

We lasted just shy of a year but achieved a magazine with content that actually interested some prisoners; it was relevant to their situation. I still think our best piece was actually a blank double-paged spread, annotated with the comment that the intended article on the Prison Officers Association had been banned by the head of Education! Such resistance to censorship was unheard of in a prison magazine.

On the back of these efforts, I hoped to expand production numbers and increase production values, attempting to produce a magazine that could circulate in the community. It was hoped to bridge the divide between Us and Them; rather like this blog. My plans garnered a Millennium Award and I was made a Millennium Fellow. Shortly after, I was banned from Education and these garlands had to be returned. The magazine is no more.

Education banned me as a casualty in their war against the teacher who supervised us. A long campaign of workplace bullying ensued, and was terrible to witness, until the final ammunition to fire her came inadvertently, from me. Like everyone else in Education, I had loaded some free software onto a PC. This was claimed to breach the IT Protocol, implied the teacher was failing to supervise properly, and we were both shown the door.

A mere technical point was that my actions didn't breach the IT Protocol and I loaded the software when this teacher wasn't even in the prison let alone the classroom. The Ombudsman looked at my complaint but managed to find against me; he managed to do this without even looking at the IT Protocol. That man is getting annoying.

So I was out on my ear for at least six months, and the department re-wrote the IT Protocol... And I remain unwelcome in the Education department and unemployed. My last attempt to work there fell apart in a matter of weeks due to where I was sitting! Part of my research involves participant observation which, as the au fait know, can require careful positioning in order to entice the unwary to engage, and engage on the necessary topics. I selected a spot in the department which allowed me to catch the traffic of people in Education, visiting the Library, giving drug tests and popping in to the loo. The head of Education wasn't having it. My just sitting there "threatened the good standing of the Education Department and even the good order of the prison". Perhaps I radiate some plague of subversion?

A mere year overdue (but the requirements of the law don't seem to impinge much on the system) and my post-psychopath parole hearing began. Now that the heat had gone from the Rice situation, as if by a miracle the Parole Board decided I wasn't mad after all and sent me a 7 page answer that somehow failed to include any of the abuse of the previous panel. Off I should go, back to Open.

And so the decade ends as it began. I am again facing the allegation of an inappropriate relationship with a member of the Education staff. Ho hum. I can only hope that at the end of the next decade, I will be able to write that a lot of them have been spent on a beach in the South Pacific.

And having read this over, I wonder just what in those ten years suggest that I pose a risk to life and limb?


  1. A lot more happens in prison than i ever realised.

  2. An enjoyable and illuminating read. Prison is even more Kafkaesque than I had imagined. Does this mean, allegations not withstanding, a move to Open is likely in the near future?

    I take it, with my customary naivety, that there is no recourse for redress where delays to prison process such as parole hearing potentially delay release?

  3. interesting hearing one persons opinion and perspective - you need everyone's for a balanced view of course

  4. Seems Ben, you have a weakness for intellectual women! Or, is that you possess some kind of magic, that tempts? Is not life a learning curve? It must be the case, that the curves are too sharp, so you can't see each disaster coming. You better take this piece of Gnosis. If it's girlie, and smiles a lot? That is the start of the next 'Dead Man's Curve'. How many 'Green Miles', did you say you wanted to walk?