Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Future

Having begun the process of regaining my equilibrium after my recent mental implosion, the news that I am (again) to journey off to open prison is a well-timed boost.

In truth, I shared management's view that the mobile phone affair would see the Ministry of Justice refer me back to the parole board, at a cost to me of a year or more.  I also thought that this would have been a pretty vindictive move.  After all, whatever my use of a phone says, it is hardly an indicator that I pose a "risk to life and limb".

Attempting to divine the motives behind Ministry decisions is nearly always a futile effort.  The Ministry moves with biblical levels of mysteriousness.  Yet I can't resist the urge to ponder this development.  Has someone in the MoJ decided to give me a chance of a future life? Are they giving me a rope and hoping I hang myself? Perhaps this is the Ministry making an effort to appear fair in the light of the police investigations into possible political interference with my last parole hearing? All of these are possible, and more; but we will never know.

Let's just accept the decision and try to use it.  Once I am physically moved to open prison (regular readers will know that I have been waiting for almost a year) then I should be released within some 12 months.  Along the way I will face significant challenges.  Not the ones some of you expect - the outside world - but rather the very low levels of expectations and the extremely limited opportunities offered in open prisons.  As I always chafe when being treated like a halfwit, it will fall to me to persuade managers to allow me to explore avenues to develop my future opportunities.

Staring at the walls here in a Block within a closed prison, the idea of being "free" in a year or so can seem unreal.  After all, tomorrow has all the hallmarks of being a seamless continuation of the last 31 years.  But I am cautious to avoid this trap.  Even though open prison is still prison, time there holds unique challenges and experiences and to become lazy, to take one's eye off the goal of release, is to court disaster.  That is not a mistake I intend to make.

As a year can pass by very quickly, I must look past open prison and give careful thought to my post-prison future.  Decisions need to be made.  Do I retire from prison politics and quietly sidle off into obscurity? Do I attempt to earn a living as a media tart, or as a writer-commentator? Resume my PhD and hope for some niche research position?  There are so many potential paths into the future, so many questions.

And I'm not going to be shy about asking you guys for ideas or about opportunities.  The cynical amongst you can view it as an experiment in rehabilitation.

The next year promises to be the most interesting that I have had for, oh, about 31 years...


  1. Oh no, oh no, what to do?

    I think that when you get out, you should make plans to have lots of babies :o

    Good luck, and all the best x

  2. Ben,

    Keep your wits about you, pick your battles very carefully, and keep your eyes on the prize.

    Good luck lad.

  3. I suspect the reason the MOJ seems to have changed it's tune and hasn't been vindictive has more to do with budget cuts and wanting to get as many people out of prison as possible than anything else.

  4. Ben,

    This is an easy question. Make the most of it. Don't waste a minute of it. Media tart? Sure, if it pays. Especially if it pays well enough to help your other goals. You have a book ready to publish already in this blog. I'm sure there's enough left to write a story. That seems an obvious direction to go in. What's wrong with making a living from entertaining, educating and enraging all in one neat volume?

  5. Follow your instincts - keep your head down and make sure you get out. Keep writing the blog and try not to upset the 'wrong' people. I, and feel sure there will be many others, feel you will make it - follow your instincts and your heart.

    Good luck.

  6. I am a GP in the north of England with an interest in the law --- & led here by respect for the work of the always brave and interesting John Hirst (of Hirst v UK fame).

    I still can't get a handle on why won't 'behave' and get out ---best not to venture that opinion here too often though (cos get jumped on by various gatekeepers lol).

    Anyway...that's it.

    And I always feel admiration for the person on the outside keeping this going (dunno who it is ---but let me say thanks to that person on behalf of everyone).