Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm hungry

Two days later, the transfer to Frescoed not having materialised and being sick of being left without any information or explanation of what was happening, and incredibly worried about the future of my studies without access to my materials, I told wing staff that I was on hunger strike.
Why a hunger strike? Why not some other, more expressive or assertive course of action? Because, in different times, I would have promptly held up a metaphorical finger to the prison and parked myself in the Block.
I chose a hunger strike for two reasons. Firstly, because I suspected (as I write, I know now) that there was a hope amongst some of my keepers that I would react badly to the situation they had created, and given them an excuse to seriously delay or even remove my Category D status. And I wasn't going to bite.
But a solitary hunger strike is an incredibly risky move in prison. Hunger striking is a moral appeal to one's keepers, and regular readers will have long grasped that I judge the moral development of my keepers to be somewhat stunted.
The key would be my second reason - your support and the noise you could create on my behalf. I was wholly reliant upon management feeling the heat not from me, but from "outside" - and they hate it.
As is the general policy, my declaration of starvation fell into a Void. If managers jumped at every con who went on hunger strike, then we would all be doing it! So they ignore it, at least for the first few weeks. Even then, they don't come rushing.
Seven days later, and I'm back in Shepton writing this, stuffing my face on chocolate and crisps. I also discovered that Cardiff was telling everyone who phoned that I was being looked after, not on hunger strike, and ensconced in a nice single cell. God forbid I suggest Governors lie! But Cardiff Governors were lying like professionals. They lie first, to escape a problem, and worry about the consequences later. Rather like three year old children.
But I did not fall into the trap, I didn't bite, I didn't get nicked. Thanks to all of you and the efforts of the Editor, together we explored and developed the possibilities of the New Media to pressure the management successfully. Without you, I'd be getting a bit peckish by now...


  1. "Thanks to all of you and the efforts of the Editor, together we explored and developed the possibilities of the New Media to pressure the management successfully." Very true that and well done Ben, you are paving the way not only in that respect but many other ones too. Keep it up. All the best x

  2. Outside pressure has undoubtedly helped in getting Ben out of Cardiff and back to Shepton so quickly. To me though, the whole thing stinks of some kind of intelligence gathering exercise on the part of the Prison Service, aimed at trying to determine the rough extent of support he has. I believe the Prison Service find itself in a unique situation, but I'm not sure if that will turn out good, or bad, for Ben. It remains to be seen if that same kind of pressure will again see him moved to a 'D' cat (like soon!) and on to freedom in a reasonable/acceptable time scale.

  3. Yes, well done to all of us, but I for one am still awaiting replies to the many emails I sent to Michael Spur, Crispin Blunt and the like.

    I believe the efforts made were instrumental in getting Ben "sorted", but what about all of those who dont have support? What a farce our Prison "service" is.


  4. Before the introduction of 'public' phones in jail, the Prison Service, if they so desired, could effectively make a prisoner 'go missing' simply by moving him or her from jail to jail before letters containing VO's and new location instructions etc could arrive. This was (and may still be!?) quite common practice, but the Prison Service will find it very difficult (if not impossible!) to 'pull these kind of strokes' with Ben, just because of his high profile.