Friday, July 29, 2011

Pick a Rule

Having refused to discuss my Ph.D. with me, the "Learning & Skills Co-ordinator" has ordained that I work instead in the Speedyhire workshop. Vital though lawnmowers may be to the life of the nation, fixing them isn't really my chosen career.

To complicate matters, this undermines my Sentence Plan.  SP's are assessments of our risk and the route by which we must reduce that risk of re-offending.  The only item on my Sentence Plan is to complete my Ph.D..  If we refuse or fail to comply with our SP then our privileges are reduced and the Parole Board is liable to give us a kicking.

So tomorrow I am being forced to make a choice.  If I go to Speedyhire I get penalised for failing to comply with my sentence plan.  If I refuse Speedyhire and insist on meeting my Sentence Plan target, then I am penalised for refusing work.

Such a shambles is hardly a novel feature of my life.  But the question remains - why do I end up carrying the can for a mess created by my keepers? When are they held responsible for their decisions?


  1. What a mess, and, too much information, surely there is a sensible way forward, there has got to be.

    Ben, your use of the term 'my keepers' when referring to prison officers / warders / screws etc, makes them sound like they belong to you, and makes me wonder if there isn't something freudian going on with you after all.

    Seems like there is a need for reasonableness and sense all round.

  2. But wasn't the reason you were deprived of your word processor because you had a phone hidden in it?

    If so, you're responsible for this shambles, rather than prison staff.

  3. Ben, your use of the term 'my keepers' when referring to prison officers / warders / screws etc, makes them sound like they belong to you, and makes me wonder if there isn't something freudian going on with you after all.

    A 'keeper' is just another name for a screw.

  4. Sorry, missed quotation marks!

  5. Even so Darby using 'the' in front of it would be more fitting and balanced than 'my' whatevs. Fancy if Ben started to write about 'my screws' lol!

    Its like a double ownership then; 'my' and the choice of consistently using the term 'keepers', definitly freudian I am starting to think now.

  6. Sophie J.

    I guess after 30+ years it feels a lot more like 'my' keepers than 'the' keepers.

  7. Eight people have marked this post as 'funny'. I think they have missed the point!

  8. Isn't there some way to lodge a formal complaint about being forced to abandon the sentence plan whilst going to work in the workshop? Present the parole board with the evidence that the deviation is forced and under protest, whilst avoiding the punishment of refusing work.

  9. To those that think it's all Ben's fault, remember, he should have been in open already!! Whose 'fault' was that?. No one has been 'punished' for that, he served his time on 'the block' for his mistake, now let him get back to which his PhD is central.

  10. "after 30+ years it feels a lot more like 'my' keepers than 'the' keepers."

    You could be right Darby, but they are still unusual terms to use.

  11. Why not just do the phd? Isn't this obvious? Don't mess yourself up even more than you already have. Any buy Euro Millions Lottery tickets, maybe you will win.


    A pair of articles, the first written by a probation officer on the current state of the probation service. Both are worth reading.

  13. I'd refuse it personally. It's not going to help you and if it's just some form of slave labour the prison makes a fortune on I would refuse it on principle.

    While continuing your Ph.D using a typewriter from the precambrian might not seem very attractive, it is better than nothing and you could continue, you don't actually need the word processor.

  14. It's a cock-up; always was.

  15. At the risk of getting shouted down - a couple of observations. The Supervision Plan will probably need amending in order to take account of changed circumstances. It strikes me that the return of the word processor is unlikely any time soon given the breach of trust involving a mobile phone inside. Incidentally this was probably why the punishment was 21 days, not the 'usual' for a mobile phone.

    Despite the references to him being 'forced' to use a mobile because of circumstances, I'm pretty sure Ben has admitted to regular use of one and so cannot really plead it was a 'one off'. Yes I'm aware of all the arguments about mobile phone use, but that kind of rationalisation does not help him when he is still trying to make progress towards release.

    Despite what has been said about him posing no risk and there being an absence of any violent behaviour, breaches of trust are taken very seriously by the Parole Board when considering progression. I repeat what I have said several times before. Release only comes on their terms, not that of the prisoner, or for that matter any number of supporters, no matter how eminent they may be.

    I've not said this before, but there are signs that Ben wants to cast himself continually as a victim of either an inept or uncaring system. There may well be elements of both, but he must share some responsibility for contributing towards the authorship of some of his misfortunes. The Parole Board will be looking for some signs of a maturing response to his situation and supporters should bear that in mind when offering advice in my view if they really do want to help him.

    Lest there be any doubt, I want Ben to make progress and move towards release. Thats what a Probation Officer's job is about - that and protecting the public.

  16. I would listen to Mr Brown were I in your predicament.

    I never understand why people close to you don't discourage your blogging when it's obvious to all sensible folks here that you don't come across too well doing it. Old advice ---but when in danger of being thought a fool, it’s better to shut up and so avoid proving it.

    Did anyone notice that Tommy Sheridan hasn’t posted on his own blog for three months. No doubt that’s one guy wanting and intending to be out.

  17. Fair enough Jim Brown, but anon 7.31 is taking it too far.

    Tommy Sheriden is an entirely different case.

    Ben's blog has been helpful to him and to others in many ways, why should anyone discourage him?

    And, hear this:

    "A time will also come upon people that a person will find himself in such a position and under such circumstances that he either allows himself to be branded as a fool or, he either joins the prevailing evils, (becoming a part of it). Should a person find himself in such a situation, then it is better for him to be branded as a fool, rather than participate in evil." from the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon Him)

  18. Speedyhire is a good option as you will be luckly to be stacking shelves in a shop the way the economic climate is.

    Good quote from the prophet, what did he say about gays again? peace be upon Him

  19. I was working full-time refurbishing power tools when I was writing up my PhD, why not you? Do both, it'll help pass the time.

  20. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.

    Roald Dahl.

    A prisoner is a fool to become a blogger. His only compensation is the denial of freedom.


  21. After 31 years, Ben's freedom has been long denied.

    Ben's blog has not only given him contact with the out but also enabled others to get insight into the inside. It has been a very good Blog and I wish Ben well as he makes progress to the outside.

  22. It amuses me that so many people visit this page everyday apparently in order to tell Ben how unpopular he is and to stop writing...

    It would seem 15000 page views a month is calling you mistaken.

    As for using a typewriter, that has not been given to Ben either, last I heard he didn't know where it was, but it ought to have arrived at the prison a while ago.

  23. Well said Infamous and Wigarse!!

    It is a great blog.

    The typewriter has apparently been there for some time, but has still to be 'approved'. Why are they so intent on denying him access?. Maybe because they know it is a great way to sap his spirit?