Sunday, July 11, 2010

Campaign for Release.

I am immensely grateful to everybody who is taking the time to do something- anything - to speed up my release. That strangers are effected by my story is a testament to the essential decency of people.

Every time the parole board hoves into view, I gird my loins, sharpen my wits and fight for my release. When it comes to the legal test for my release - not posing "a more than minimal risk to life or limb" - then I stand with certainty and insist that I meet that test. Thirty years of non-violence is my platform.

And yet...Campaigning for my release on other grounds is something that makes me deeply uncomfortable. Most of you who believe that I should be released do so on the broad ground that I have served long enough.

This is a moral judgement, not a legal one, and it is one that brings me face to face with a question that will forever haunt me. What should be my punishment for killing another human being? None of my learning has helped me to see an answer to this question.

Perhaps there is no answer, for me at least. Perhaps that is a question that can only be answered by other people. People like yourselves.


  1. Not me.

    I agree that there is no punishment the state can apply that can ever make up for murder, so tariffs are meaningless.

    I personally do not believe in punishment for punishments sake. As far as I am concerned, we should do whatever it takes to reduce crime rates and I doubt very much that traditional prison does that. Even if I did see a roll for punishment, your writing suggests to me that you punish yourself psychologically far more than anything anyone else could ever do to you.

    I campaign for your release on a simple cost benefit analysis: is keeping you inside doing any good whatsoever? No. Would your release be of benefit to society? Quite obviously, yes. It's a no brainer.

  2. Be confident Ben, try not to worry, do good and good will follow you ( and that goes for everyone out there too )

  3. Hey ben, my friend and confidant Sophiej wrecks my brains day in and day out about you. You killed someone ben and no one can argue with that. SophieJ and your supporters think you have served your sentence and must be released from prison. I agree with them. It must be a burden to have a stigma attachd to you as a murderer. But my argument is that I have been tempted to kill people a million times, not just friends but family. I never killed any of them but I have a criminal record for drink driving. I could be behind bars today for killing my brother and my friend - these fuckers are the reason why I got drunk. I was so angry with my brother and my friend that I got drunk and refused to spend the night at my brother's house, hence I tried to drive to my house at 3.30am just to get away from him. It is not because I am intelligent, it is because I was over 30 years of age then and knew what would happen if I battered these arseholes to pulp.

    You have served 30 years in prison for killing your friend and that is bloody too much. Your friend is dead and will never come back to life. It is not the spirit of your friend that wants you incacerated in prison for the rest of your life. But it is other murderers, the politician, the prison guards, those brow beaten by the system we live in that their minds are fucked up. We live in an evil system that sees the slaughter of thousands and thousands of other people around the continent as a gift from god hence they crown this little island as Great Britain for the simple reason that it plundered, slaughtered, raped and destroyed other countries and their inhabitants. I always say, 'No two wrongs make a right,' but the truth ben is that 'If you are right under this political climate, then you are wrong in the eyes of humanity.'

    All I can say therefore is, keep fighting, remain strong and truthful to yourself and others. One day will come pretty soon for you to be out of prison. My hope is that you are needed by other prisoners all over the world because you fight for their rights. Good luck and god bless and I support anyone who is trying to get your release.

  4. The concept of 'punishment' has always perplexed me and I'm not sure it's actually a useful response to criminal acts.

    Punishment, to me seems to be more about how people deal with being reminded that we are ALL capable of just about ANYTHING. We are animals after all, despite our clothes and houses and nicely tended gardens. When someone commits an act which reminds us of that fact, it's almost as if society is 'shooting the messenger' for having the audacity to remind us we're still capable of these things.

    Punishment also seems a bit like 'shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted' - it won't undo the crime that was committed, but if we adopted an intelligent response to that crime it means we can go some way to lessening the chances of it happening again.

    I don't know if you were able to listen to Desert Island Discs this morning but Kirsty Young spoke to the consultant forensic psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead, who works at Broadmoor. She was utterly fascinating and spoke so sensibly about the process of responding to people's behaviour that it convinces me our whole culture needs to change it's mindset with regard to criminal justice.

    Putting people in neat little boxes might comfort some but it does nothing to actually address the complexities of human behaviour, and it's high time people shut their mouths, put their prejudices aside and actually observed and listened with an open mind to see what best serves everyone in these situations.

  5. Tis post sums up what Lord Hailsham once said. " The courts are about law, not justice." In my home town, the courts say " THe law courts." nothing on there about justice. Can you not get a lawyer like mr Loophole, or someone like the late George Carman, or that ilk, i know they cost, but my legal aid lawyer f**ked me over.

  6. Hi Ben, I've just found your blog - it's well written and fascinating. I admire your courage and motivation in continuing to write and post it out. I found the post you wrote in March about censorship and prison writers very interesting. I'm in a similar situatoin, though with much more freedom than you and on the other side - I'm a prison writer in res. I've been writing a blog on the Scottish Book Trust website which has just been pulled by the SPS - or effectively pulled anyway, as I was hauled to the side of the room during an author event I'd organised to be told I could no longer write anything about the prison or my work there. I will still find interesting things to write about - more general - but am furious.
    I will be printing out your posts for the guys in my groups to read. Hopefully it will inspire some of them.