Monday, May 3, 2010

Parole Hearing

My hearing on May 5th will, hopefully, recommend again that I move to Open prison. This is not a decision to be taken for granted, though. The Parole Board is prevented from considering my release at this hearing as the Ministry of Justice has only referred me to them to consider the question of Open prison.

All of the reports from prison and probation staff recommend that I move to Open, despite the accusations of a relationship and a phone. For all the bluster about my being anti-authority, obviously I'm doing something right even if it's by accident.
At the hearing, a representative from the Ministry of Justice will make their views known to the Board. By rights this should be given to me and my lawyer several weeks before the hearing, giving us an opportunity to marshal counter-arguments. The Ministry has such contempt for the procedure, though, that they will only reveal their view on the day of the hearing.

And this reveals the interesting twist. The Ministry refers me to the Board for their advice on whether I should move to Open. The Ministry then presents its view to the Panel. The Panel then makes its recommendations - to the Ministry. And if the Ministry doesn't like it, it can ignore it. Some may suggest that this process is rather loaded in favour of the Ministry...

This is the trap. The Parole Board could order my release one day and the Ministry must comply. But the Board won't do so until I have been to Open prison. And the decision to move me to Open rests with the Ministry. So whilst the Ministry points to the Parole Board as being the final arbiter in these matters, the reality is that the Ministry can - and does - interfere and scupper the Parole Board.
At this hearing, I fully expect the Ministry to oppose my move to Open. Despite six previous recommendations from the Board for Open, stretching back to 1995, the Ministry has always opposed it. Every damn time.

Despite this opposition, I hope that the Board will side with me and prison staff and recommend Open. The decision will then return to the Ministry. Despite opposing my moving to Open last year, I expect them to accept the Parole Board’s recommendation. Just to add to the confusion, though, the Ministry can ignore whatever the Parole Board recommends and move me to Open regardless.

Simple, innit? Perhaps now you will appreciate why I go through life feeling pretty frustrated! And why I look askance at those who retain some faith in this insane bureaucracy.


  1. Can you make it clear to the board that you haven't been given the correct amount of time to construct your counter arguments by the MoJ? Would they take that into account even if you were to make it clear?

    I am keeping my fingers crossed for you :).

  2. Good luck for tomorrow Ben, we are on your side and if the MOJ tries anything funny; we'll send in the heavies, ok?

    Seriously though, best wishes for your parole hearing tomorrow, and hoping for the right outcome. xxx

  3. Good luck Ben. Hoping for some good news.

    Take care.

  4. Good luck ben - SophieJ is right, time to send heavies to crack the skulls of these idiots. Honestly we are all praying for you if you believe in the power of prayer.

  5. I don't think Mr Kafka himself would have been able to get his head around this. Good luck, Ben!!

  6. From Ed:

    I have passed on your messages of good luck to Ben via a service called "e-mail a prisoner" so he gets them in time.

    Thank you.