Sunday, July 23, 2006

Where justice stops and cruelty begins

Jails are made of bricks and passion,

broken dreams and ribald men.

I had an interesting conversation today, a conversation which has to be censored to remove the vernacular for obvious reasons, although the removal may detract from it. I can't remember verbatim of course, only policemen can do that. To protect the guilty I shall call the fellow I had the chat with by the name of Cecil, because I don't know anyone called Cecil so that should be safe enough.

The conversation went something like this:

Cecil - "Frank, how long have you been in the nick now?"

Me - "Over twenty years, why?"

Cecil - "I've got twenty-five rec. and I've only done two. Does it pass quick?"

Me - "Well it's all relative really. When I look back at the last twenty years, it has flown past like a snap of your fingers. But when I look forward it seems never-ending.”

Cecil - "I know."

Me - "But nothing lasts for ever."

Cecil - "I know - you did it hard as well, didn't you?"

Me - "Well, that's relative too I suppose. Hard compared to what? Compared to a Russian Salt Mine, I had it all pretty easy. But compared to how you lads have got it now, with your telly and everything else, I suppose it was no laughing matter."

Cecil - "Do you never get depressed?"

Me - "Ah! Someone once said that when you get old nobody gives you time to cry or feel sorry for yourself. Besides, it's easier to smile, even when you don't feel like it."

Cecil - "But you must get depressed."

Me - "A ten minute conversation with you would depress anybody. Take my advice - try to get all the pleasure you can from each day. Accept each day for what is in it and don't dwell in the past. You can't change the past - not even God can change the past - you can only work for the future. If you do that, your days will be a little easier. If you don't do that, you won't reach your release. Now go away and bother someone else, I'm reading."

Cecil - "You are always reading."

Me - "I'm learning things, it helps."

Cecil - "You already know loads of things."

Me - "But not enough. I am learning all the time. Have you nothing to do?"

He went away after that after getting some sugar from me for a cup of tea. It made me think a bit. These young men have all got ridiculously long sentences and they can't even take care of themselves well enough to ensure that they have the means to make tea! In what way is the prison service equipping them for life in the years to come? Who is giving these youngsters the advice they need? I don't mean courses which are worse than useless and which will be meaningless in a few years' time. I mean real advice, life-changing, thought-provoking, commonsense advice.

One day, society will reap the harvest of this wilful neglect. It's true to say that these young men have, in many cases, committed terrible crimes and, as a consequence, deserve to be punished, but there is a huge difference between punishment and vindictive revenge and justice.

Let me put it this way: if a person beats a dog for barking, and the beating turns the dog vicious, and the person beats the dog further for being vicious - sooner or later that person is arrested for cruelty. We need to decide where justice stops and cruelty begins.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, July 08, 2006

An oral parole hearing - 16.06.2006.

Report of Oral Parole Hearing of Franklyn Wilkinson 16.06.2006. held at

The Sentence management Unit of Whitemore Prison, Cambridgeshire.

Chairman: His Honour Judge Bing.

Also Present Two Panel Members
Board Secretary
ASO S.Wright, Acting Life Manager
(representing the Prison and the and the Home Secretary)
Officer Paul Marson, Personal Officer.
Mr Mike Pemberton of Stephensons Solicitors
(10 - 14 Library Street, Wigan WN1 1NN representing Frank Wilkinson)
Frank Wilkinson

No other witnesses ordered by the Board had turned up.


In the ante room prior to entry to the Boardroom the Board Secretary came to see myself and Mike Pemberton and informed us that none of the witnesses had bothered to turn up. Given that, then the whole proceedings were seen as totally unfair to me. The discussion between my solicitor and the Board Secretary was then centered on the need to seek a deferral and I agreed to this.
Once in the room Pemberton made the application for deferral and the Chairman agreed instantly. It was then discussed as to when the new hearing would be scheduled and the Chairman ordered that this was a complicated case and as such should not be scheduled for a day when any other cases are heard; this case had to be allocated a full day.
The witnesses were then discussed and the judge ordered the following:

Fiona Lloyd, Prison Psychologist
Mike Harding, Prison Senior Probation Officer
FCApps or someone in his place
Independent Psychology Assessment
Paul Marson, Personal Officer

Mike Pemberton then brought up the subject of independent observers and said that Hilary Hinchliffe had desired to attend but had been refused permission. He was asked what she could contribute and Pemberton said that Hilary Hinchliffe was a long-standing friend who could tell the board about the changes in me if the board so desired, but, more importantly, she also had a background in Psychiatric Nursing and as such the Board may want to ask questions of her. The chairman agreed and ordered that Hilary Hinchliffe be cleared by security to be allowed further into the environs of the prison beyond the visiting area which was as far as she had previously been allowed. This was an instruction by the Chairman.

Pemberton then raised the matter of Dr Mike Naughton also being allowed in as an independent observer and the Chairman also agreed to this.

Pemberton then applied to the Chair to have the current Cat A review halted until after the Board had re-sat and made its decisions, because the comments and decisions of the Board would affect the Cat A decision.

The chairman agreed to everything and said that this was a complicated and unusual case and needed proper consideration.

I was then asked if I was happy with the proceedings and I could only agree. Then we all said "Good Afternoon", I said "Thankyou" and everyone went home.


One thing was clear: the Board could not reconcile the fact that I had done so much and yet apparently had so little recognition of it from the Prison Service. The chairman wants to see the witnesses and he wants to know why not.

The Voice In The Wilderness