Monday, November 15, 2010

Fighting Fog

What a strange 24 hours it has been. Yesterday, I woke up to be told that my parole hearing was in the Guardian news section. My ego was pleased but then I just had to wonder how uneventful the world must have been for my hearing to rise to significance, even if it was on page 16??

Most of my morning was spent out on the yard, sitting in the freezing drizzle, attempting to find some equilibrium for the hearing due to begin at lunchtime.

As usual, I spent a while with my barrister discussing the issues. Or what we thought were the issues! Those who have followed this saga with forensic attention will recall that I was granted a move to Open Prison about 15 months ago. And then I was busted; the prison discovering that I had been involved in a relationship with a member of staff and that I had briefly possessed a mobile phone in the previous year. As is the way, the Ministry of Justice promptly referred me back to the Parole Board for advice. This was that hearing, and we thought the issues were clear - did this new information mean that I presented too high a risk to now be moved to Open Prison?

Well...we wait to see. To my surprise, the mobile didn't even get a mention. That left the relationship. The angle that the Panel took was to accuse me of being a deceptive man. I had lied! I tried to point out that one incident of deception doesn't make me a compulsive liar across the board, but they kept hammering away at the point.

From their perspective, if I was to be managed in the community, then I needed to be open and honest with those supervising me. And so, if I am going to lie about what I'm up to, then I'd pose a real problem. I pointed out that if I'm up to no good - say, dealing in drugs, then obviously I wasn't going to admit it to my Probation Officer...and that the significant issue would be the drug dealing, not the lying about it.

Of course I lied about the relationship, what else could I do? I refuse to apologise for whom I fall in love with. The situation was wrong, the relationship was not. We had two options - to lie and allow the relationship to develop, or to stop. And stopping, when love is involved, was never an option for me. Of course I regret the situation and the need to lie.

This does not mean I'm a persistently deceptive man. I'm notorious for being stupidly honest. If I was a deceptive, manipulative man than I'd have wangled my way out the gate years ago! So I think the relationship is just one of those things, a difficult situation I dealt with as best I could. Most importantly, it has nothing to do with whether I pose "a risk to life or limb".

So, the phone and the relationship were the issues, and they were addressed. Or,in the case of the mobile, ignored. That should have been that, off to Open.

But the Panel decided to reopen my whole life, ignore everything that had been dealt with to the satisfaction of half a dozen previous Panels, and spent half the time disagreeing over the factors that led to my offence. If we can't agree on why I committed murder, 30 years after the fact, then I could be screwed.

More in Part 2…


  1. The most absurd thing about this is that the only times in life when that kind of deception matter are cases in which ben will never be exposed to due to his criminal record. (Care and teaching professions). Lying about a relationship is very different to lying about drugs.

  2. Always wished I could have banged my teacher!

  3. B Jesus this is like fog in a bog of the underworld.

    Of course people get involved with one another when they see and have relations together on a near daily basis. Of course these things are kept secret due to the 'professional conduct' rules. I know from being in the mental health system, if a nurse and a patient have a relationship ( which happens quite a lot) it is a sackable offense, and those people have to tread very carefully and on many occasions the workers have chosen to end their career in order to maintain that relationship, and I am sure this is similar in prisons.

    It doesn't stop relationships from developing in the first place, only makes it harder for those involved.

    To open up those events from 30 years ago and argue about why you did it is a complete waste of time and tax payers money.

    The question should be why has the prison service failed to rehabilitate and release a young man in their care for such a long time past tariff. And how they are going to do this now in a decent manner before there are mass and popular uprisings of people angry about such injustices.

  4. screwing a screw, respect ben!

  5. They say don't believe everything you read in the papers - well the Guardian says you are off to Open Prison in the near future. I hope that is in indeed correct information and I wish you well.