Friday, March 23, 2012

Yellow? Yellow?

Within a week or so I should be the owner of a shiny, new, and legal mobile phone. I'm not turning cartwheels. These mobiles are for use outside of the prison and are stored in our lockers near the Gate, to be picked up and returned as we make our forays into the Outside.
Unlike regular consumers, we are strictly limited to the phones that we can buy. The list comprises every piece of crap left on the shelf over the last few years as the world moved on. And none of our permitted list can have a camera or internet.
Even with my vast experience of the Prison Service Mind, I'll be damned if I can fathom even a tortuous explanation for these restrictions. After all, whilst out in the community we are allowed to take pictures and surf the Net, so why deny us phones with those capabilities? A more pointless restriction is hard to find.
And as we can use mobiles within moments of leaving the prison, why are we denied access to them whilst in the prison? Why can we not wander the landings with Nokia's finest in our pocket?
The usual argument against prisoners having access to mobile phones is "security", that mindless mantra used to stifle any unorthodox thought or deed within the prison system. But this collapses utterly in the face of the reality of Open prisons. After all, if I wanted to pass a message secretly then I could do so on my own town visits, or ask one of the 200 men who leave the nick each day to pass it on.
This stupidity - I can call it no other - illustrates the lazy mindset of prison service policy makers, most of whom have never set foot in an actual prison, preferring the comfort of HQ. These over-promoted typists create policies which afflict the whole of the prison system, with no thought or consideration being given to the very different circumstances that apply across the system.
It is one thing to ban prisoners in the High Security Estate from possessing mobiles, but it is quite another to extend that to Open prisons. The result of this silliness is that on one side of the pole we are legit owners and users of mobiles; walk a further foot towards the Gate, though, and we are liable to an extra 2 years imprisonment for having such technology about our person.
If I haven't mentioned it before, I think that the prison system is run by idiots.


  1. oh dear, you were doing so well, but are starting to regress... 'the prison service are my enemy I must stay in prison, call them names, complain and oppose them' What did the prison service give for the reason for not having phones in prison? ah you didn't ask? thought not...

    1. Perhaps you can tell us all just what reason YOU think the reason might be? Personally, I've wracked my brains and can think of no sensible/valid grounds.

    2. I can think of 2 reasons -
      1) The prison charges exorbitant rates for use of normal phones - ie the phones are a source of revenue. If you allow prisoners to retain mobile phones the prison destroys its revenue - at this time of cutbacks probably not a good move from the prisons point of view.
      2) In a riot situation (does happen in open prisons) prisoners can phone each other to give warnings/ advice on whats happening - a VERY bad idea.

    3. 1) Neither sensible or valid

      2) Blatant subversive behaviour in open prisons is a rare thing. This is because ANY transgressions can get to you sent back to closed conditions at the drop of a hat. For that reason, I can’t see anyone who’s willing to get involved in a RIOT under such circumstances – not already having access to the black market devices available in any jail.

      Should they be banned because of what could but probably won’t happen?

  2. If the phone is a cheap nokia, then there is a very good reason to be happy.

    I have had my cheap nokia for 4 years now. Trusty, unbroken, fully functional. Smart phones break. Cameras explode (seen this happen myself). But my nokia...trundles on. As a bonus its battery lasts a good 10 days compared to 12 hours most smartphones have after a few months.

    Given the reliability of this phone is needed to inform the prison if you are running late, surely the reliability is the main thing?

    And get yourself a real camera as soon as you are outside. The quality of pictures taken makes it actually worth while, compared to the low quality shots a phone takes.

    1. I agree. The rubber builders Nokia was indestructible.

  3. Well, you're almost out. Forgive them their little sillynesses a bit - it is, after all, a lack of forgiveness that kept you in longer. You don't want to act the same way as if your part of the same species of unforgiving as them. Oh wait, I guess it's impossible to switch species...I dunno, don't forgive then? For to do so would make no difference?

  4. So because Ben is in open conditions now he's not allowed to comment on what he sees as flaws in the system? Open conditions = even less free speech than he had before? *sigh*

  5. committed a crime and therefore have had your civil liberties curtailed, what right do you have to complain about what you have not got access to.

    If you don't want to have the curtailments of Her Majestey's prison service levied against you then don't commit a crime!

  6. There's a really cheap Samsung model that fits the criteria laid out by HMP. Do not buy it. After my release I was in a hostel with a 'No Camera Phones' policy and went through 3 of the damned things before working out that anything from the E series is actually bad at the one function left to it... making calls. Getting a refund wasn't too difficult but I'd commend Nokia if you can find a basic phone from them.

    I moved on from hostels and got mugged at random for my 7 year old Nokia. A friend who works for Google gave me a £400 smartphone from the goodness of his heart. The Nokia had a battery life of about a week. This one is lucky to make it through the day. On the plus side it helps with the budget a helluva lot. For £15 a month I get unlimited broadband. I don't have a TV and don't watch Iplayer live so I don't need a TV license. The phone turns my cheap and old PC into a TV.


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