Monday, December 19, 2011

Open Prison - The First Week Part 1

The uninitiated often assume, if unthinkingly, that a move to Open prison would include something of a culture shock.
After all, there are few locked doors, no barred windows, no security fence...oh, the freedom!
I must disappoint you. Liberty is the natural, default, state and it is confinement which provides the culture shock. And never forget that Open prison remains prison. The lack of bars and fences only serves to highlight the essence of modern incarceration - it is based upon bureaucracy and managerialism. These things remain, perhaps exist in an even stronger form, in Open prison.
Open prison is also mindbendingly bloody boring. Being unlocked all of the time forces us to live an extremely long day, far removed from the fragmented days in Closed prison where we psychologically adpat to bang-up via the medium of sleep or bad TV. With seemingly little to do in these long days, boredom quickly sets in.
As culture shock goes, the psychological effects of moving to Open are no greater than being moved between two Closed prisons. Each has differences and nuances, but the dimension of physical liberty is not hugely significant.

15 comments:

  1. Never mind, Ben. Just get yerself a mobile phone to relieve the boredom, then they'll send you back to the comfortable familiarity of Cat C! Then you will actually have something to moan about.

    Some people are never happy.

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  2. A gilded cage is still a cage.

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  3. You know you've been locked up a long time when obtaining freedom becomes you being forced to do something.

    Sometimes it's not always human sourced. The long days - that's reality having its effect.

    One thing about prison is that in being surrounded by human artifice, you always have a human to blame.

    Once you get out, you can only try and blame the sky.

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  4. What wise words, Callan. Ben now has to take responsibility for the first time since childhood. Responisibility for himself and those around him, and understanding that there are consequences. If things do not go right he can start to blame himself and make changes. Prison infantalises people and long-term imprisonment can leave some incapable of coping without the structure. It will be interesting to see how he gets on. He has to learn to be an adult, not a teenager, and things like going on hunger strike to get his own way are no longer an option.

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  5. Ben has been in an open jail for a week and is describing the changes he sees and experiences between an open and a closed jail. Boredom is remarkable to him as it was perhaps unexpected.

    Lack of stimulation is part of a punishment regime and I am sure many prisoners and people elsewhere in the community such as people on the dole for example can vouche for that.

    Being young and unemployed is one of the hardest things for anyone to get through, but I suppose you would say that is their fault too...

    This society has at is core either overstimulation, (overwork) or understimulation like unemployment. Such imbalance is not due to those sufferring from it, but the minority who run it so badly.

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  6. How long do you have to stay in open prison Ben?

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  7. It absolutly infuriates me to hear about someone being bored. The whole world is full of things to do. evening classes, riding lessons, archery clubs, whatever you can think of, and whatever floats your boat. I have been in jail, and was never bored, as i discoverd reading books. I have been unemployed, and never board, walks in the county cost nowt. there are plenty of free and cheap things to do. In fact there are never enough hours in a day. (having said that, i do waste more time than i should on the internet) I have a whole pile of books to read, for when i get the time.

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  8. Most of us know that it will be hard for Ben to adapt to more freedom than he has had for a considerable time - so we should attempt to help him, as of course, so should the prison staff and other prisoners. Anonymous at 11.58 has some good ideas but I am not sure that Ben can 'walk in the country, do 'riding lessons, join 'archery classes' etc at this moment in time! Ben can certainly read lots and write lots and complete his studies if possible - but I do not know what else he will be allowed to do in open prison. Whatever happens, boredom must not lead to inappropriate actions that will get him into trouble - some suggestions as to what he can do in an open prison from the people who actually know what is allowed might be helpful.

    Ben, keep strong and keep trying - you will make it - take any help on offer and use it wisely.

    Keep writing.

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  9. http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/12/20/slopping-out-regime-in-prison-not-in-breach-of-human-rights-judge-rules/#more-11766

    http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/12/20/no-human-right-to-an-hours-minimum-in-the-open-air-for-lifer-court-of-appeal/#more-11746

    A couple of interesting articles on Human Rights in relation to prisoners by the UK Human Rights blog. Not directly related to the topic at hand though.

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  10. @Mary, i appreciate Ben cannot do some of the tings the rest of us do. ( I don't have the cash for some of the tings i want to do) However, prison is about making you own entertainmetn. He could paint a picture, read/write which he does already, teach others to read write, put on a play. do in cell work, being paid to do tapestry. If you are board you have no imagination, even in prison.

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  11. Thanks anonymous at 2.50pm. Some good ideas. I am sure that Ben has an imagination and therefore hope he uses it! I along with others have sent him a Christmas card and stamps - so hopefully he can use them for something too!!

    Good wishes to everyone for the festive season.

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  12. Anon at 9.31 - that is very interesting and I think so right. Ben has been institutionalised and you are so right, he has to learn to take control of his own life/routine and think for himself about the boring stuff that we have to think about every day. Life on the outside can be boring also and not always what it is cracked up to be!

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  13. Mary, kind of you but please do not send in stamps as he is not allowed to have them. Daft, I know, but it is a rule of HMP Sudbury. They can be a bit twitchy about anonymous cash, so if you send a note put a name and address with it. I have sent cash in and he has got it OK.
    Ed.

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  14. Sorry I thought he could have stamps - sent them some time ago.

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  15. Sophie,
    Lack of stimulation is part of a punishment regime and I am sure many prisoners and people elsewhere in the community such as people on the dole for example can vouche for that.
    Uh, I'm on the outside and...why do you think I'm on the internet? It's not from being over stimulated, that's for sure! Mind you, I'm a stay at home dad, so perhaps I know a bit about what your talking about already. But as you can tell, my situation comes from reality - it inflict some of the same stuff the prison system does.

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