Friday, August 26, 2011

The Blame Game

Some people blame me for my continual detention because I'm critical and argumentative.  They insist I shut up.
I honestly try to understand the mentality behind such opinions, really.  It seems to accept that the prisoner service, parole board and Ministry of Justice are keeping people in prison not for their crime or future risk but because of their opinions. This mentality then blames these prisoners for being subject to this grotesque abuse of power.
I try to understand this view, but I fail.  People who accept that the State does such a repulsive thing and are content with it are beyond my comprehensions.
Isn't it right that any system which abuses it power in this way is precisely the system that requires criticising the most? It is moral cowardice, a denial of all that makes us free, autonomous, human beings if we "shut up"?


  1. In some countries people are thrown in jail for their opinions, and the State in such countries objects strongly to protests against the establishment. Women had to chain themselves to railings in this country to get the vote. If no-one protested things would go stagnant. But prisons are not the outside world and there are rules inside that don't exist out here. So I suppose if you protest without breaking those rules then the prison authorities should not really mind, should they?

  2. Yes, you are right Ben, freedom is a must.

  3. "Some people blame me for my continual detention because I'm critical and argumentative."

    --but if it isn't because of your feisty attitude to perceived abuse of authority, then why are you still inside?

    Because you are so far over tariff, there must be a denfensible rationale behind it all.

    It operates in the opposite way for most of us ---wind the bosses up and they want you out. Whereas in your situation, wind 'em up and they want you in.

    So behave sensibly (their defn of what sensible is, not yours), and get out sooner rather than later.

    What's wrong with that!

  4. Anon 7.59 You are missing the point of this post, and through your words condoning keeping someone locked up for "winding up the bosses"! At a cost of roughly £45,000 per year of taxpayer's money, keeping a prisoner in for that reason alone is surely a tad ridiculous?!

  5. It is indefensible that Ben should be locked up still.

    If we are all equal in this life, which we are, we are all the same, we are all human, why then should anyone cowtow to anyone else, to any other mortal?

    No-one can stop us from struggling for the right to be ourselves, to be who we are and to be free. It not about waiting for the hereafter to gain equality and freedom, its about the here and now, the struggle to make this world peaceful, equal and sensible. There are those of us who will not nor cannot stop or give up the struggle for human dignity until it's done, until it is achieved. No matter the threats or the punishment, our victory is our defiance and the laughter of our children (quote from the late Bobby Sands MP. RIP)

  6. That should say bobby sands terrorist... Off topic I.know but he should be remembered as an evil person not an mp.

  7. Ben, if you want to stay in, why not just say so? I would understand that the big bad world is scarry to some people who have never got it together to set up a home, pay bills etc. In fact there is a thread on the on how people have been at rock bottom and reduced to going through the bins at supermarkets to get food, fried up potato peelings from the neighbour to feed their kids etc. It is tough out here, and most people are struggeling right now.

    But at the same time, there are some wonderful things out here to enjoy, even if your broke, the exquisetly beautiful countryside, the freedom to wander round the shops. The company of friends. And you know what you have to do to get that. Tell probation what they want to hear, do any course they say, even if it means standing in the corner on one leg, do it, coz your wasting your life in there. I don't regret my short stint in jail. It made me realize how lucky i was. On the day of release, i stood outside waiting for my lift. I remember thinking i am glad i am me, and i have my life, and not the life of any other inmate, or anyone else. (i am not a drug addict) I have all my friends, my family, and my little house. ok, it is not Buckingham palace, and i do have money worries (that's part of adult life). But i wouldn't swap places with ANYONE in the world.

  8. I think some people confuse a determination not to be ground down with a refusal to accept that you should be punished. They then take the logic that as you refuse to accept to be punished, you are not sorry for your crime, and therefore don't understand that it is wrong, and therefore are not safe to be released.

    That's pretty much how I interpret what they say.

    Note, I do not share this view.

  9. Bite your tongue. Do what the screws want you to do. Behave. Stop being argumentative. Get out.

    Once you're out, you can do far, far more good for those inside, and if you wish, go back to being an argumentative sod, but without the consequences. :)

    You need to look at the bigger picture. Swallow your pride, just for a short while. Nobody inside cares that you "morally brave".

  10. Anons just not getting it... He is posing the question: do you think people should be imprisoned for their opinions? By telling Ben to bite his tongue etc you are agreeing that it is OK to do so.

  11. but you’d definitely look askance at anyone coming onto a serving life-prisoner’s blog and telling them they need to be bolshie etc inside

    People like me would tell you that may be your fantasy, but the poor fella doing the time can’t afford indulgence like that. HE wants out. Not to better enjoy himself inside.

    So all you ‘well-wishers’ ---you need to be a bit careful with what you encourage (however implicitly/indirectly you do it)... cos it's not you doing all the unnecessary time, is it?!?

    In fact, it occurs to me that some of you may like this prisoner to be just where he is ---makes life more vital, zingy and interesting, don't it. (Your own I mean

  12. @ Anon August 27, 2011 8:41 PM:- I think it's becoming clear to most people who follow this blog just what powers Governors and other prison "mechanisms" have over their inmates and how petty they are.

    Either release Ben or get in specialists who can deal with and understand his "fear".

  13. Anon 8.41 you have it exactly. The people who claim to be Bens supporters and who encourage him to 'rebel' on some supposed principle are just sick. Ben has done too much time..... Quit your sick game. Remind Ben how futile his repeated gestures of defiance are. They are mere inconveniences for the prison authorities not principled responses to injustice. Stop giving Ben the opportunity to wallow in his delusions. He deserves a life outside.

  14. Whatever you decide to do I wish you luck but sometimes in life (or work / friendship / love / whatever) you can achieve a better end result by keeping quiet in the short term. That doesn't mean you've given in.

    I understand that part of the preparation for release is work placements. Pretty much everyone has to give in and follow the wrong decisions of managers or clients who have power over you (not as bad as prison but being fired and losing your home isn't nice) sometimes so it might be worth trying to accept that sometimes it will happen.

  15. So we all agree then? It is okay for the authorities to imprison people for their beliefs and opinions and for being difficult?!

  16. Anon above, no absolutly not. Ben can think what he likes, but he is a fool if he tells the prison staff/probation about it. I wasn't sorry about my crime, and my victims deserved everything they got, and i've already taken revenge on someone. But your mad if you think i told probation how i felt. I'd still be there now, and not free to surf the net as i am doing at the moment.

  17. Anon at 8.16 "But you're mad if you think I told probation what I felt. I'd still be there now.."

    I never quite understand this sentiment - what a person says or does not say is only a small part of what goes into making an assessment of any prisoner - indeed it's only a small part of how any of us make decisions about friends or acqaintances. In the end it's actions that speak louder than words in determining whether someone is being honest or genuine or not.

    I'm not aware of anyone who has remained in prison soley because of their thoughts, beliefs or bolshiness - it's actions that are far more relevant. This is where we get into the realms of discussion over infringements of prison rules, whether it's justified or not, serious or not, legal or not etc.

    Similarly, any refusal to co-operate is an action that will have consequences and if this is described as 'bolshiness' then yes it will delay release. I do not know any way round this for an indeterminate sentence - I have tried on behalf of a prisoner and failed.

    It's not going to change. I don't think it can change as long as there is something called a Life Sentence which society has decided is preferable to Capital Punishment. Due to the seriousness of the Index Offence, society has signed up to a system of independent review (the Parole Board) who only release on their terms and when satisfied risk of harm has been reduced to a manageable degree.

    Absence of any violent behaviour in prison is not sufficient in itself as of course prison is not a normal community. Judgements need to be made about how the person is going to cope in open society and this can only be undertaken with co-operation. Any attempt to frustrate the Board being able to come to a decision, or by any action that indicates an unwillingness or inability to co-operate will delay release and for some people that can be indefinite.

    Can it really be any different? For the most serious offences imaginable, do we just incarcerate for a period and release automatically with no assessment? If we do assess, what do we do if they do not co-operate?

  18. ^^^^^^ When the very wise Mr Brown asks (rhetorically), "Can it really be any different?", I identify the unmistakable ring of absolute truth.

    Also, I would like to second what Anon @ 10.32pm on August 27th remarks:

    "(The futility of Ben's..) ..repeated gestures of defiance... They are mere inconveniences for the prison authorities not principled responses to injustice."

    The idea behind the word 'maturity' differs from context to context...but I do feel that many of Ben's responses to his predicament are 'immature' responses.

    I would characterise Ben as being immature rather than anything more edgy than that!


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