Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sweep your gaze further than the ephemera of TV's and PlayStations and you realise that one of the most powerful experiences of imprisonment is being rendered powerless.
It follows that serving a long sentence must involve learning how to manage anger and frustration. With the minutiae of our lives being regulated by, and depending upon, the actions of those appointed to the lofty station above us then their indifference and ineptitude feeds an endless reservoir of anger.
I give you glimpses of this, brief windows onto occasional events that must make any reasonable person gnash their teeth. Most prisoners are reduced to stewing in their frustration and anger; at least I have the small release afforded by writing.
The treatment of Big Rinty was shameful. As far as I am aware, his medical treatment was not poor. It was his treatment by the prison that causes anger. Taken out to hospital, to die, he was initially handcuffed with two staff. At this point Rinty could barely lift himself out of bed unaided. The handcuffs were later removed and the escort reduced to one man.
Through the vicissitudes of life, Rinty had few people close to him. On the outside, Erwin James was one, Felix the Gambler another, and one of his fellow cons here at Shepton. The prison refused to allow his friend here to phone Rinty to say his farewells.
Rinty was initially denied compassionate release, even though it was undisputed that he had only a short time to live. It was eventually granted late on Friday; Rinty died early on Saturday.
Don't be misled by the term "compassionate release" in Rinty's case. If he had died whilst "in custody", then there would automatically have been a Coroner's Inquest and an Investigation by the Prisons Ombudsman. By "releasing" Rinty, those inquiries have been avoided. This is a cynical, disgusting ploy used quite often by the Prison Service.
Having "released" Rinty, his guard left. The prison didn't bother informing Erwin James or The Gambler, leaving Rinty to die alone.
These truly shameful events are not uncommon. They are woven into the fabric of prison life, and these threads wrap around the throats of the powerless - the prisoners.
We learn to choke in silence in the face of such institutional contempt for us. We learn to hide our anger, to cling tightly to our frustrations. It twists our very souls. Riots are the raw expression of a thousand wounds.
Labels: Big Rinty