Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do Not Ask For Whom The Ringtone Tolls…

There are moments in life, rarely appreciated at the time, which predetermine the future course of our existence. For me, one of those moments crept up on me the other day. 1 thought I had reached a pinnacle, the descent of which would be Open prison and release. In truth, the day transformed into an abyss.

I was lying on my bed, grinding my way through the Hitler biography, when a governor knocked on the door.  “When do you want to go to Prescoed?'' he asked. I pointed out that I was busy, but that I could squeeze it in this afternoon.  “Done”, he said.  A guy was leaving Prescoed and I could take his place. He assured me it wasn't a delayed April Fool's joke, this time I would actually arrive at the other end.
This was the news that 1, the Editor, and those of you who support my release had long been waiting for. I was instantly on the phone to the Editor to tell her the best news we could hope for. Unless you have served 31 years in prison, how can I possibly try to convey what it feels like to be within sight of a new life, to look down the tunnel and see the woman I love, waiting in the sunlight?

Shooting up to the Library and Reception, I went to spread the news and sort out the practicalities.  Moving, and at such short notice, isn't an uncomplicated social process. Deciding to get a headstart, I packed some box files and my word-processor and delivered them to Reception, the rest to follow after lunch.
On my way back, I took a sledgehammer the likes of which 1 have never had to experience  -  I was told that there was a mobile phone hidden inside my word-processor . I was utterly stunned, immobilised, helpless. Sitting out on the yard before lunch, trying to smile at people's congratulations, I was in internal freefall . Never has the gap between my internal state and my external presentation been so large.

All I could do was sit and wait. Would my property be X-Rayed before my move?  My mind just couldn't cope with calculations, even thinking, about the consequences that would fall if the mobile was found.

As we were being locked up after lunch, a governor marched down to the corridor, looking serious. He told me that I wasn't going to Prescoed, and that I was nicked. The details would follow later. The call I then made to the Editor broke my heart, and all I could do was leave my presence on her answering machine.  
The charge sheet was issued that evening -  unauthorised possession of a mobile phone.


  1. Sorry, just to clarify, did Ben have a mobile phone or not? If so was it actually in his Word processor? If not, get the alleged phone tested for both fingerprints and DNA. If needs be, raise some funds for the independent examination.

  2. Benedict,

    My understanding, which may have gaps in it, is that Ben didn't have a phone. The one he used to call the editor was borrowed. It seems the phone was hidden inside Ben's wordprocessor by it's real owner. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether hiding a phone in the property of someone about to be transferred to open was an act of unbelievable stupidity of malevolence, but I think it's safe to assume, from Ben's reaction on being told the phone was there before he was caught but after it was too late to do anything about, that he did not put it there himself.

  3. Is anyone else wondering how you even get a phone into a word processor?

  4. if there was no ill intent, then there was at the very least monumental stupidity on the part of the person who hid the phone.
    i truly hope it's the latter and that this person will come clean - and maybe this time some people in the prison system will show some humanity and not keep ben back for yet another turn around the block.

    ben's entire history has me absolutely gobsmacked - that a child can be sentenced to live a full life in prison, i thought, was against all civilised values. children are known to be more impulsive than adults and have less insight in consequences, which is why they are/should be judged differently. i know in america the trend is increasing to treat juvenile offenders as adults, and i find this a horrifying development.

    ben's history up to this day, truly violates my sense of justice and fair play.

  5. Well said Anja!!

    What a terrible blow to all your hopes Ben. I am so sorry that even after 31 years, there are some people who still want to see you incarcerated, though it is said that 'revenge is a dish best served cold'. You really have made some enemies.

    I, and others, will continue to fight your corner, and will bring whatever pressure possible to bear on drawing attention to this new attempt to undermine your hopes of freedom.

  6. Thanks for this information about what happened to you Ben. The anxiety of these situations must be absolutely excrutiating. It reminds me of being at school when something had gone wrong, similar to the phone scenario say, you're nerves get wrecked, but it sounds even worse than being at school.

    Two years imprisonment for possession of a mobile phone I heard was the 'sentence' for the 'crime'. That is an absolute outrage. People just using a phone to talk to a friend or lover or whoever, how come chatting has become a criminal offence, huh? What is going on? This is stupidity, things should be judged on a case by case basis, where *how* prisoners use phones gets looked into; otherwise, such a blanket rule turns into yet more bullying, a stick with which to beat prisoners.

    The clocks cannot be turned back to a pre mobile phone era, not in prisons either. Where has sense gone? Or was it never there in the first place?

    Its never too late to start having some sensible rules now, it can start today like!

  7. It's not clear from Ben's blog whether he knew there was a phone inside his word processor. Surely he would not be stupid enough to put one there. I really hope not as my faith in him would be challenged. I am a supporter of Ben's and believe he has been treated disgustingly by the authorities and he should have been released years ago - like sophie says 'Where has sense gone?' Keep strong Ben (and editor too!)

  8. Obviously the owner of the phone must come forward and own up.

  9. whether Ben had a phone or not is irrevelent, he has served the time for his crime and should be released now
    Angela B

  10. Well said, Angela B. That's it in a nutshell, really.

  11. I am so stunned. I cannot believe it. Ben, I cannot even begin to imagine how you are feeling and there are no words adequate to express how I feel about this latest farce. All I can do/say is that I am holding you up in prayer. Certainly this madness must come to an end some day.

  12. Mary,

    Ben says "I took a sledgehammer the likes of which I have never had to experience - I was told that there was a mobile phone hidden inside my word-processor . I was utterly stunned, immobilised, helpless."

    It seems pretty clear to me that he didn't know the phone was there when he dropped his possessions off at reception.

  13. Thanks Wigarse - I understand the 'language' now.

  14. I'm taking it Prescoed is an open prison? Which is a fairly large change in sentence condition?

    Are there actual legal charges involved with being in possession of a mobile phone while in prison? And how does this relate to any transfer, if at all? What, does some guy stroke his beard and decide to connect the two as being related? So basically the beard stroker gets to make up his own little laws which last as long as he deigns to humour them?

    Question any assertion by others that the phone and the transfer affect each other at all. If anything, you should be transfered and met any punishment at your new location or punished then transfered after punishment is complete.

    Don't let them pull a semantic con job on you where since they keep associating the two, you start to believe it is the case as well.


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