Thursday, December 15, 2011


Prison life is littered with small indicators of our status, particularly how far we are trusted - or not.
Does a screw step aside on the stairs to ensure that you aren't walking behind him? When he's talking to you, does he look over both your shoulder and his own? In these and other small ways our untrustworthy status is signalled, often to my frustration.
Open prison is the epitome of this. Some are festooned with CCTV cameras, even on the landings.  In others, the windows in the rooms don't open more than a few inches, assuming we'd be heading for the horizon if clambering out was made too easy. Not that a pane of glass hindered an escapologist but as a signal of trust, it sugg­ests that management focus more on "prison" than on "open".
Here, my window opens wide. So wide that I have to use caution not to fall out when I pull it shut. If we wanted to recreate the Greatest Hits of Colditz, circumnavigating a pane of glass wouldn't be on the list of perilous obstacles. I have a key to both my door and the one at the end of the landing. There is no perimeter fence of any significance - the one that does exist is said to be there to deter travellers from sneaking in and joining the dinner queue.
These are small things, but they signify acts of faith on the part of our keepers. Some, a tiny minority, break with that faith and they duly pay the price.
For me, these are significant signs that I am being invested with a measure of sense, that doesn't happen too often in prison.


  1. This is nice to read, Ben.

    How are you finding the move to Open Prison? It'd be interesting to hear about the experience of moving from decades in a 'closed' prison to an open prison.


  2. First of all a big hi to Ben, keep blogging dude, nice to see your in cat D AND your still blogging.
    Anyway I've just been reading about psychopaths and I've come to the conclusion, No sorry! In my opinion ;) all psychologist are psychopaths and probation are just their pawns.

  3. Off topic, but i can't find it, Which D cat is Ben in? as i will be sending xmas cards today, last day for second class posting.

  4. The full address for Ben was given in one of the comments in the Blog Post titled The Rules.
    Needs to have a post of its own I think...

  5. Ben is in Sudbury. I was reading an article today about long term prisoner moves to open prison and the governer was saying that men who have been inside for a long time often spend ages looking at the horizon because their field of vision has been so limited for so long! How do you find this Ben and how do you find the trust and maybe having to take more responsibility for yourself now?

  6. Address is
    HMP Sudbury, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 5HW.
    I posted my Christmas card to Ben a few days ago!
    Give him lots of them. Best Wishes