Sunday, June 13, 2010

Parallel Lives

I am acutely conscious that my experience of prison is mine alone and only occasionally shared by other prisoners.

Whilst the physical environment may be the same, how we perceive it, the meaning we endow, is each our own. Our biographies, our world-view, colours each person’s perspective.

And the daily regime I presently live is one shared by only a minority of prisoners. Many more are enduring far worse.

Perhaps the largest disjuncture in experience is my sentence and the number of years I have racked up behind bars. My perspective is inevitably one of a Lifer.

Short-term prisoners may share some of the basic prison experience but in reality many of their concerns are different from that of Lifers.

This is by way of pointing out that you are receiving only one perspective of prison from me and this is why I wish that other prisoners would begin blogging.
In particular, the depth of imprisonment that has descended upon High Security prisons in recent years is in grave need of explaining to the wider world.

This blog is my truth, as I perceive it. But there is so much more for others to say.


  1. I agree with you, Ben. Your honesty and intelligence reveal much about prisons and also about you. The fact that yours is an ongoing, not a retrospective, memoir can be, for us, excruciating. As we go about our daily lives, go the movies, have a meal out, we think of you banged up in there...

    Other perspectives on the prison experience would be instructive - as would other perspectives on you! Step forward, also, the blogging screw, teacher, admin worker, governor.

    I think it is possible for people to read what you say, step inside your shoes and reckon they could handle it all pretty well, too. Having worked for a short time in prisons, I am perfectly sure that, though I am as resilient as most, I couldn't. 30 years of malevolent banality would have flipped me into a bad place.

    I don't know what others feel. I think yours is an astonishing testament. I suppose I just hope that this is not lost on your readers.

  2. "I wish that other prisoners would begin blogging".

    This may well happen sooner than you think. Because, according to the Council of Europe, access to the internet is a fundamental human right.

  3. I agree - other perspectives would be really interesting and useful. I also think Ben is a testament to himself - surviving all those many years.

  4. yes I also agree, Ben is one helluva guy, (best wishes and good luck for your future Ben) xx