Saturday, June 25, 2011


One facet of prison medical care that I have always found slightly distasteful is the role of NHS staff and GP's in the disciplinary process.

The medics must certify us as being "fit" to be charged and tried, then certify us "fit" to undergo punishment.

For "healers" to be so allied with the process of inflicting official suffering jars somewhat.


  1. Better than not having them around at all. They’re hardly sanctifying a process of judicial execution here, are they?

    I think that with this post you are hoping to elide a potential distaste that would be felt by most decent people if say Stateside medics were involved in the process of execution (which they are not, BTW)…with the presence of that poor medic tasked with checking you out re consequences of your rule-breaking.

    Once again, you disparage-by-blog someone charged with looking after you. Try empathy first.

  2. Anon 1:16

    I suspect from your tone that you are just the sort of person a prisoner WOULDN'T want to see standing at the punishment block cell door dressed in a white coat asking if "everything was aright?" - as they lay on a floor covered in blood and bruises!.

  3. You don't have to go too far back in history when there were executions here. Mr Hanratty being the last to be executed in this country in the 1950's, he was wrongly convicted of murder, his only crime was that he had learning difficulties. There was no empathy then for him, and todays system is one that is still severely lacking in the empathy department, as many can testify; not just those who recieve a miscarriage of justice, but also those convicted for crimes they did but were then far too heavily penalised for, as is the case with Ben and many others.

    And of course let us not forget the role of some doctors and medical staff under Nazi regimes; from lethal injections for the mentally ill to lampshades made from human skin. Its all there in the not long past, and its hardly a utopia we live in now either is it?

    I get comfort from the scriptures in these times we are in, and one saying that comes to mind, (and is relevant here) is that there will be no mercy for the merciless in judgement time (ie God's judgement and not the rule of law), which none shall escape.

    Better to be aware and have your eyes wide open for your own sake and for the sake of the almighty who lives and rules and reigns.

  4. That’s all well and good, but blogger Ben was decrying the role of some medic lad or lassie doing nothing more discreditable than checking he’s OK.

    (Which jars a bit to me. Sorry about that!

  5. Or... he was stating that he finds the fact that a healer is required to certify people as fit to receive a punishment distasteful.

    There is no personal disparagement of anyone there, simply an acknowledgement that the process is off kilter.

    If you were so minded you could even interpret Ben's words as being sympathetic towards the NHS staff who are involved in such a practice. I doubt he means that, but my point still stands - judge Ben by what he actually says, not by what you read between the lines.

  6. "if say Stateside medics were involved in the process of execution (which they are not, BTW)"

    You sure? Because what I've seen indicates that it is legal in some or most states that have capital punishment for them to be involved, and that, while the AMA and similar organisations don't exactly approve, it does happen. I also recall that a couple states have laws protecting the medical licenses of doctors who participate in executions, which implies they do, or at least, could.

  7. Anon, I agree with you. Ben refers to 'healers' rather than the system. You don't have to be a cynic to interpret Ben's words in line with the attitude he displays here in all his posts - just balanced and realistic. Wigarse perhaps you can point out some posts in all the hundreds on this blog in which Ben exhibits empathy for anyone who works in prison?

  8. I wonder if this blog could be setup to show a hash of the IP address of each poster, that way we'd instantly see sockpuppetry...

  9. Harry/Anon

    Although I know there must be prison workers who have done their best for Ben and treated him with dignity, is it surprising if he has this view of the people who he quite naturally sees as his life-long captors, or at least compliant in his captivity? Be careful before you judge others for lack of empathy.

  10. I was a prison worker when I met Ben. The relationship between staff and prisoners is a strange one. Read this post from Sept 2010: staff-two-step. It explains how strained it can be, and why empathy is required on both sides (that bit is just my opinion!) Ed.

  11. Medics in prison work for the NHS, and not the prison service, but i guess they are only human, and must tire of being asked for valium etc. all the time from the druggies. It is not really down to them that you are in prison though. Blame that on courts, lawyers and yourself somewhat for that.

    BTW Ed, perhaps a topic for a future post, i wonderd how so many people get in touch with prisoners they don't know, from the out, and start relationships with them. I read once, that the yorkshire ripper has had 13 marraige proposals from women??? (read it in a newspaper, so can't verify it is true of course). Nowt as queer as folk. I know inside time used to advertize pen-pals, but no more, since one guy was set up, asking for gay men to write to him.

  12. @Harry I have no idea how it feels to be in Ben's position but maybe it's you who needs to show some empathy. 20 years over tarrif, you'd think the prison staff would cut him some slack wouldn't you?

    But no he's a danger to society because he used a smuggled mobile phone. LOL you people crack me up.

  13. @Sophie J

    The last executions took place in the UK on 13 August 1964 Peter Anthony Allen at Liverpool Prison and Gwynne Owen Evans at Manchester Prison (executions both took place at the same time) who were both convicted of the murder of John Alan West. I suspect the case you refer to is the tragic execution of Derek Bentley. His execution was really the beginning of the end of capital punishment in the UK. He was eventually completely pardoned posthumously in 1998

  14. Thanks for that Alistair, I am surprised that capital punishment was still around in the sixties though, it was really not that long ago.

    Not sure where the name 'Hanratty' came into it, little mix up there, but yes, I remember the occurance of his pardon. His death, as you say lead to the cessation of that foul practice in the UK.

    I know of the people and journalists who campaigned tirelessly for and on behalf of Derek Bentley, it took a long while, but they got there in the end.

  15. prisonerben - Thanks for pointing out the staff-two-step blog. Interesting. I guess Ben just finds it very difficult to see things from other perspectives. Understandable given the time he has been inside prison.

    The staff-two-step blog does seem quite paranoid. He seems to assume that all the staff are completely against him. I guess any genuine attempts to be kind are just met with suspicion and distrust. Poor fellow.