Monday, December 14, 2009

Business as usual?

It occurs to me that I may give the general impression that prisons in general (a lot of generals there - more than the Italian Army), and this one in particular, run fairly smoothly. Well, I'd better correct that I suppose. This emporium of misery and soul-crushing staggers from crisis to crisis and nobody seems to know what anyone else is doing. Nor do they care. Still, what can you expect from a prison with a governor who has an ego the size of a small planet?

Be all that as it may, I mention it in passing because some fool managed to lose a quarter of the wing's canteen sheets this week and consequently those fellows can't have any canteen - no tobacco if they smoke, no stamps to write home to their folks with or to send Christmas cards with, no toiletries, no little bits of food to supplement their diets, nuffink. And, what does the prison do about it? Sweet bugger all, that's what, and the reason is simple: they don't care. Why should they? They go home every night and can toddle off to Tescos with the best of them.

But I am not desiring to discuss the hubris of this prison and the shrinking violets who ostensibly run it. No, I want to bring up the subject of the Parole Board. I had my last parole board in March of this year, nine months ago. Apparently we, us prisoners with no prospects, get such a board hearing every three years, unless there are exceptional circumstances. I have received a letter from the Parole Board informing me that I have a parole hearing next month, January. This will, of course, be a paper exercise because my solicitor will request an oral hearing and then it will all be postponed for a few months. The point is, I have a hearing scheduled for next year.

Are they going to free me? Of course they aren't. I have only been in prison for coming up to twenty-four years, that's not half long enough. I'm just learning the rules! Besides, I haven't been punished and tortured enough yet, not by a long chalk.

My guilt or innocence has nothing to do with it. The prison service sees itself as far better judge than the men (and women) who sit on the Benches every day dealing out the years. These judges sit and listen to cases, all the ins and outs, and then come to a studied decision. But when the prison service get hold of a poor unfortunate, they completely ignore whatever the court felt was a just and fair sentence and impose their own.

Who is behind such decisions? Who is running the engine room? I'll tell you - trainee psychologists who have recently left school and who have absolutely no experience of anything at all. They don't look old enough to have left home never mind making life-affecting reports and ruining lives. They may be doing their best; they may be full of good intentions - but the good Lord preserve me from people who are doing their best and the road to perdition is paved with the souls of the well intentioned.

Speaking for myself, I'd better get off my gluteus maximus and go and see about getting my canteen, or at least get some bloody postage stamps - or nobody will be getting any letters from me this week.

The Voice In The Wilderness

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