Monday, January 25, 2010

My Decade 2

Episode 2
Why not release? The legal test is whether I pose a more than minimal risk to life and limb and I say I pass it with ease. But the subtext of every parole answer is clear - it is broadly believed that due to the length of time I have been in prison, obviously I couldn't cope with the outside world. The answer, in this screwed up system, to my being kept in prison so long is to keep me in prison longer. Genius.

We have had this conversation in a previous post, where comments suggested that I may be overly optimistic of my ability to merge seamlessly into daily life as a free man. Point taken, it will be a bumpy ride. Change is fraught with problems. But what is being assumed is far more than that; it is believed that outside life is so difficult that I would blow a mental gasket and so pose a risk to life and limb. I cannot find the words to express my full contempt for this view. Not that my view matters a damn to those in charge of my life.

However, before I could be moved to Open prison, the prison management pulled out of their bag of tricks an allegation that I had threatened to kill one of the Governors. Whilst I do dismiss most Governors as being limited people and an evolutionary cul- de-sac, threatening to kill them is not one of my preferences. This was, at best, a misunderstanding on their part or, at worst, a blatant lie aimed at sabotaging my progress.

And so I was referred back to the Parole Board for this claim to be examined. This took until July 2004, two years. As we must be reviewed by the Board at least once every two years, a new parole process was began before we had completed the last one, a feat of remarkable ineptitude.

At the July 2004 hearing, the Judge who chaired the Parole panel insisted that the prison disclose the intelligence on which they based their claim that I was stalking a governor like some demented ninja. To their embarrassment, the intelligence produced comprised three reports. One was a complaint by probation that I didn't like him; one stated that I was unhappy with management; and the third baldly stated that I had no intention whatsoever of attacking any governor.
The Judge took one look at this pile of non-evidence and swept it down the table, stating that they were considering Open at worst and invited me to make my pitch for release. Being caught on the hop by this I largess I had little prepared and so had to settle for their recommending my move to Open. Again.


  1. Interesting. Pardon my ignorance of the system, but are prisoners given representation and/or advice at parole hearings or hearings in response to allegations, such as ben's just described? I suspect not. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised any more at the ridiculously parlous state of the criminal justice system but a man's continual incarceration as a pure result of not having anticipated or prepared for the need for oratory erudition on his candidacy for release at one specific moment seems particularly unjust and specious.

  2. Parole hearings for lifers are semi-judicial, and lifers have legal-aid lawyers to represent them.

  3. Know of similar incident - during a five week trial a prison officer wrote to the Court that the prisoner on trial had threatened to kill a policeman (prisoners was in custody at the time). Prison officer sent 2 letters which were put before the judge who very aptly said he had seen no evidence of 'threats to kill',and with tongue in cheek, was concerned that the police officer had been sitting for weeks in court under sentence of death! The judge finally sent an order to the prison that he did not want any more time wasted with such stupid letters. Prison officer told a blatant lie and who, one must presume, wanted to make it worse for the prisoner. These are the people that we as tax payers are allowing to rehabilitate our prisoners!!


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