Thursday, January 12, 2012


Those who have a passing familiarity with my career may recall that this is my second attempt to scale the
summit of open prison.
The first attempt, Leyhill in 2004, was characterised by the words spoken to me by the lifer manager - "We don't care". This led to a year of utter misery and frustration for me, leading to a further 6 years of imprisonment. The whole ethos of that prison was rooted in negativity, suspicion and endless restrictions. Lifers lived in daily fear of being "lifted", waking up to face a set of handcuffs and a taxi back to closed prison. The expulsion rate at Leyhill remains legendary, as does the pervasive management attitude of thinking of any and every reason to deny a man access to the community.
Despite this heavy baggage haunting my memory, I left the Reception building here with a heavy load of box files and an open and positive frame of mind. Speaking to other Lifers I noted an absence of the fear and misery that pervades Leyhill. They assured me that the lifer management here were efficient and took a far less oppressive role in our lives.
After three weeks I was called-up for an induction talk with a lifer manager. Where Leyhill presented a brick wall, this man offered me an open door. In confirming that my timetable of activities began with me out in the community in January, leading to my possible release in May, I was struck dumb by the positive attitude underlying this vista. Rather than having to fight for anything, it seems that all of this is there for me to lose.
This is such a refreshing attitude. While this place may be far from home, cold and a bit of a dive, when it comes to the essential point of open prison - resettlement into the community - I get the feeling that I've landed on my feet.
For once!


  1. Good news!

    Seems to be the best opportunity you've had in the time you've been incarcerated.

    Please don't cock it up! (and if that means saying yes and no in the right places to avoid confrontation with the establishment I'd recommend doing so)

  2. Big grins reading this. がんばりましょ!

    ("Gambarimasho", which is one of those untranslatable Japanese phrases that directly translates as "do your best" but is used more to mean "good luck", I suppose it falls midway between the two and so seems apt here.)

  3. Good luck and all the best.

    Btw you may a career in the media as an activist or as a writer on prisioner rights

  4. So pleased for you Ben - but remember do not step out of line - really looking forward to more blogs so don't mess up. Keep calm, do your best and good luck.

  5. Good luck. As much as I enjoy the blog being a view from the inside out, I think you may enjoy it more if it were looking from the outside, In. So to speak.

  6. Get used to the cold Ben, with fuel prices off the scale and profiteering energy companies you will have to make friends with being cold. Sorry that we fucked up the world while you were away, things have been cleaned up so you can't even scavenge for coal any more. Not that many are allowed a coal fire any more anyway (for good reason).

    Having said that I'm glad that the regime at HMP Sudbury is enlightened and pro-active.

  7. Ben your an absolute star, you will remember me from Leyhill, PJ 4965!!! We used to talk a lot on a Sunday at church.


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