Monday, February 6, 2012

The Parole Process

There really is a system, a process, it’s not just cobbled together - no matter how it seems! The whole process begins six months before the hearing when the Secretary of State sends a letter to the Parole Board informing them to review the case. A letter then goes from the Board to the prison asking them to start writing the reports.
I was called to Lifer Unit today to read my parole dossier. Much of it is a rehash of old news, with the latest staff reports at the end. Mine were written when I was at Erlestoke and so can only give an overview of my time there but make no firm recommendations. The general tenor is "see how he does whilst at Open", but there are no issues jumping off the page to derail this last few months of progression towards the hearing itself in May.
The room in which I was parked to read the dossier was the boardroom, where the parole hearing will take place. It struck me that the table was a narrow one, so that the Judge and I will be sitting within reach. This is unusual; most parole hearings take place where the furniture is arranged so that the prisoner and members of the Board are several feet apart!
And one small edge of the large, leather topped table was quite badly worn, the patina almost scratched. I bet that this is the seat that the prisoner has. Those marks are the sweat, frustration, fear and hope of all who have passed ahead of me towards that final hurdle to release.
When my hearing is over, I hope not to have left bite marks of my own.


  1. Hi Ben - I guess you're probably already in touch with them but the list of links on your blog doesn;t include Prisoners Advice Service that Erwin James works for:
    regards Margaret from Quakers in Criminal Justice

  2. Best of luck for the Parole process Ben. Hope it all goes smoothly!

  3. Margaret, above, did you know that Ben is a Quaker? I forward comments so he will get to see the website addresses and look them up whilst out on licence. Thanks. Ed.

  4. Having watched the film Shawshank Redemption several times, one wonders whether there comes a point when you just say F**k It!?

  5. Well observed.
    Best of luck.

  6. Every lifer wishes he had the stones to give Red's speech from Shawshank to the parole board. And we all hope we never reach such a low point that we feel able to.


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