Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Any Questions?

Every few months whilst I was blogging from the other side of the wall I would throw up the opportunity for readers to ask me questions. Usually these were prison related, but some were profoundly personal or contained an insightfulness that would make me draw breath.

It occurs that in the 13 months since my release, I haven't explicitly given readers that invitation to ask me about...anything. Here's your chance.

42 comments:

  1. Hi Ben, what reforms do you think should they make prior to the release of long term prisoners, to enable their smoother integration back into society ?

    James

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    Replies
    1. Having had a particularly eventful first year, this topic is close to my heart and I will be addressing it in a long blogpost shortly.

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  2. Hi Ben - what do you think about IPP prisoners with short tariffs (18 months or less) being in prison some 6/7 years later? What would you suggest is the best way forward to get these people released?



    Thanks for the opportunity of asking you a question (or two) and please keep writing.

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    Replies
    1. The way that the IPP sentence has been handled was, from its very inception, a bloody shambles. They should release all who are over tariff immediately. Detaining people simply because they don't not have the ability to access courses as HMP didn't allocate the resources is wickedly unjust.

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    2. What can be done about it?

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  3. Hi Ben - When a conviction is wrong and someone wins an appeal after years inside, how can the Justice system compensate, other then monetary?

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    Replies
    1. Of those I have spoken to, what they most want is a heartfelt and very loud apology from the criminal justice system - a recognition that a mistake has been made. Secondly, money does not buy psychological stability. Having being wrongly imprisoned must be a truly tormenting experience and counselling and general support should be immediately on call.

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  4. Quite a lot of people are asking questions on Twitter, not here. Readers may need to follow twitter to join in the discussions.

    Ed.

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    Replies
    1. The subject was posed here on the blog and should be answered on the blog. It's a discourtesy to Ben and to people who prefer not to use Twitter to change the venue.

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  5. It wasn't intended as a discourtesy, more a reflection of the juggling that goes on in balancing time, space and different audiences! I do promote the blog on twitter - not so much vice versa - so some prefer to engage on there rather than here.

    And as we all know, responding here offers the opportunity to give more subtle and substantive answers! Either forum is good, and I hope you bear with me as I struggle with "integrating digital platforms".....lordy!

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  6. I agree with Catana - I have been a follower here for yonks and do not want to go to Twitter so am glad you made the comment. I did not respond immediately to the suggestion that we need to go to Twitter so that I was not being negative - but have to admit I felt quite put out that there was this suggestion we should need to go to Twitter.

    Looking forward to some of the answers to the questions.

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  7. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I said people "may need to follow Twitter to join the discussions" meaning that if someone asked a question on that forum and it was answered there, then blog readers would need to visit to join in. I was not suggesting that the whole thing was shifting over to Twitter. I agree, that would have been rude!

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    1. In my turn, I shouldn't have said "change the venue" since it isn't being changed, but split. If Twitter members want to discuss there, that's fine with me. It does mean that two separate discussions are going on, one of which is going to be severely limited by Twitter's 140 character limitation. On the other hand, the more discussions that take place about prison issues, the better.

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  8. Ben, I know that most of your life experience was about being in prison, locked up. Now things have changed do you see yourself always and for the rest of your life being mainly involved in it, through your blog, the radio, tv or whatever, twitter ... Or can you imagine yourself ever leaving it behind you, maybe not for good but for a while even, doing something else ( I don't know what ) but something completely different? Just out of interest? Not that its bad doing what you are doing in the media and stuff, I just wonder; do you ever think about it?

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    Replies
    1. I wish he would, but maybe it is in his blood?

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    2. Difficult one.... Most prisoners turn their back on the damn place as fast as possible, and who can blame them?

      Yet I was, during my time, one of the few "political" guy's, that small group that comprises those with a longer historical perspective, whose interests are broader than the merely personal, and who push for change. It's hardly surprising then that to some extent prison is in my bones.

      Who knows what the future holds?

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  9. I don't comment on twitter so I will ask you here. I am at a loss to understand what reasons the Parole Board gave for not releasing you for so long. Is being difficult and probably thought to be bloody-minded a sufficiently valid reason ?


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    Replies
    1. It depends on how creative the PB wish to be with their reasoning. It's quite simple....being (occasionally) non compliant with prison Rules equates to a fear of an unwillingness to comply with the laws outside; therefore difficult to supervise, too great a risk to release.

      In my last but one parole hearing the connection between compliance and risk of reoffending was, finally, admitted to be specious. That led to my release.

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  10. What can the average person do to further the cause of prison reform?

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    Replies
    1. The least anyone owes those imprisoned in their name is to give some small thought to the issues. Having done that, activism in some small way may follow - even if this comprises the odd comment on a blog or news story.

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  11. Hi Ben,
    When you were in prison did you prefer giving or receiving ( man love)?

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    Replies
    1. @anon above, Correct me if i am wrong, but i don't think Ben is Gay, what about you then? are you the plug or the socket?

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  12. Hi Ben,

    You started blogging pretty late into your sentence. How did you view blogging? Just as a means of self-publishing in a one way conversation? Or did you build up a community through your blogging? Make new friends/contacts? How important was the blog to your life inside, and do you think it has helped you in a positive way since your release? Would you have the press exposure that you currently have without it?

    The editor once put a call out to send you postcards. Did you get one from Bournemouth, or were they 'intercepted/lost'?! I long wondered whether the expense was worth it. I could have had a Starbucks latte for the price of the card and postage... :)

    Lastly, do you fear returning to prison? I understand the terms of your release on license. Does it hang over you? Or is it shunted to the back of your mind? How do you deal with that? I would imagine that being on that sort of license would make a person feel like they are walking on egg shells.

    Kind regards.

    PS. It really is time you smarted up your blog with a nicer template!

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    Replies
    1. Your question requires a lengthy reply, probably a blogpost in its own right....bear with me, please.

      And I like this design. It's simple! I don't want the design to become more interesting than the content :)

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  13. Come on Ben! You asked for questions.....how about some answers amigo??

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. Why bother inviting questions you have no intention of answering?

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    2. Hello Anon, its been a while since you popped up with a pointless spiteful comment. Apologies for not responding to questions in as timely as manner as I had hoped - or to your arbitrary timescale, Welcome back!

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  14. Do you think one of the major problems in prison is the system is the lack of access to qualifications that will actually help people on release, getting people to do level 1 maths and English, just doesn't cut it. Educating yourself inside to a high level seems to be discouraged. Agree/disagree

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    Replies
    1. Agree.
      The funding for education in prison has become increasingly focused upon basic literacy and numeracy. Valid as that goal is, it may be a necessary precondition for employment, but it is hardly a sufficient one.
      I know I had to fight for everything I achieved educationally....an educated intelligent con may, after all, begin to think about his circumstances and - God forbid - start questioning...

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    2. I would consider that keeping people dumb makes them easier to control. Being a firm believer in education, you can change more with a pen than you can with a sword. Have to ask how did you deal with when the initial high of being released dissipated, I know a few people that have gone from being on top of the world to depression. Was just wondering on your thoughts

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  15. How do people meet and form relationships with the opposite sex in jail? I heard once, the Yorkshire Ripper, (peter suclifffe) received 13 marriage proposals, would that be true, and while he may be a high profile case, what about the others? And also, do people like Ian Huntly/Roy whitting get hate mail?

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