I am a life sentence prisoner having been convicted of murder in 1996. I have now served almost 8 years of a 13 year tariff.
My whole life has been spent in and out of the criminal justice system starting with borstal at the age of 16.
As a child I spent periods in children's homes which seems
on reflection to have been the start of everything that was to befall
me in later years.
My adult life was shaped by the early experiences of children's homes and the brutality, abuses and violence of state sponsored social workers and teachers, violence for them and the language it spoke certainty sent out the message to many kids that violence provided solutions thus it was to become the downward spiral for many who like myself went on to repeat that violence.
I had also seen first hand certainly in the early how both my parents struggled to make ends meet which was ironic considering that both had served in the armed forces during World War Two which I was taught at school was a fight for freedom. Once I had become more politically conscious I would ask, freedom from what? For it certainly wasn^t freedom from poverty, homelessness, discrimination or oppression.
My life wasn't all offending, I married three times and was divorced from each marriage.
Prison experiences and the rage that manifests itself from oppressive regimes hardly provides for the social skills needed to maintain any relationship, again something I find ironic, for many prisons now provide programmes in both relationships and social skills courtesy of your local probation officer or psychologist.
My life was not always dominated by violence and certainly when married I had to muster the resources needed to maintain a family.
As an outcast and outlaw, the same energies that I applied to the criminal lifestyle was directed into using my wits into more acceptable pursuits. In prison today I am told that marks me out as being manipulative.
I worked as a merchant seaman although I need to add that it was under what are known as flags of convenience which translates as cheap labour. Some ships were hardly seaworthy but that didn't matter to the owners who employed mostly an unskilled labour force.
At other times I could only resort to self-employment to earn a living and that was highly varied from being a a decorator, cab driver, market trader and street trader.
For an ex-prisoner, the past is always a barrier to not repeating the past and being regarded as unemployable because the past compels many ex-prisoners to repeat past mistakes. On one occasion I was employed by a local council which involved handling cash. I had concealed my past in order to become employable. However that employment came to an end when the local police informed my employers about me.
From thereon I was never to work for am employer again. Only the most menial jobs, the sweatshop and cheap labour was going to be available to me, not that much different from prison
Today I am fighting my conviction for murder because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose their own expert witness evidence that supported the defence case. Instead they put up witnesses who had no expertise in the area that the defence argued.
It was only later in prison that I was given a copy of the prosecution experts report. It was a report that my defence team had never seen and the expert not having been produced by the prosecution was also unknown.
My case is in the early stages at the Court of Appeal and I have been granted legal aid to pursue a challenge to my conviction. Counsels advice has been submitted which argues that my trial was unfair and therefore my conviction is unsafe.
I am passionate about challenging injustice wherever it raises its head and that is not confined to prisoner injustice issues or failings within the criminal justice system.
It is so easy to become too focused on the one manifestation of our unequal and unjust society to the exclusion of the wider issues that affects almost everyone else.
Prison writings - The 'Do-Gooder' as Part of the State Machinery
One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is liberalism and political correctness and now that it has crept into our prisons there is no better example as to its ultimate aim, power and control. Such people as probation officers, social workers, psychologists and counsellors would claim that their activity is motivated by compassion or moral principle, but moral principle does not play a role for them, because much of the behaviour and approaches of liberals is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people they claim to be trying to help, working class people who significantly and predominantly make up the populations of our prisons.
In our prisons today we have all the features of the new liberal politically correct approach to prisoner rehabilitation in enforcing us all how to live, love, work, play and think.
The 'thought police' have in the last few years promoted their version of equality, human rights and anti-discrimination practice which is no more than a euphemism for crypto fascism. Never was there any one more intolerant than a liberal who is unable to covert others to their way of thinking and in this respect, the notions of so-called political correctness which can correctly be described as 'thought police' surveillance.
We are classified, categorised, assessed and 'pigeon-holed' by the likes of probation officers, social workers, and psychologists with all individualism removed, control in its more subtle forms has replaced the ducking stool and branding.
Lip service is paid to rehabilitation to appease the media hyped public demand for blood and amongst those who feed off this are the liberal 'do- gooder' and the 'we know best brigade' of the chattering and helplessly bourgeois elite.
And what does punishment that aims at rehabilitation entail?
It does not rely on winning a prisoner over by reason, it is presumed that a prisoneer cannot be won over by reason alone, it has to be by the application of force and coercion which accomplishes the opposite ends of justice and that is oppression.
Prisoners today are caught up in a never ending spiral of trendy, unproven, un-scientific and dubious psychology based offending behaviour programmes which are regarded as the panacea for reducing offending behaviour, with claims being made that reductions of 20-50% are being achieved. This is of course dependant on who the commentator is, with job protection and status being the common key to such 'hocus-pocus' and hype.
I am told that my criminal history suggests that I do not learn from experience.
But I did not acquire all of my criminal learning from fellow prisoners.
My masters were all too often prison staff who were the experts at brutality, violence, deceit, mistrust, manipulation and putting the squeeze on people and today things haven't changed, that ethos is still very prevalent and very much alive in our prisons.
I am but a mere by-product of that.
I endured bread and water diets, beatings, segregation, hospital strip-cells and petty rules, designed for no other purpose than to de-humanise people.
What was it that I was supposed to learn from those experiences that today the liberal would argue breaches human rights?
What these liberal elites have put in place are their own devices that some might perceive as being altruistic and humane, but this will always be a veneer for the real intentions of these peddlers of myths, which is control and persuasion.
It is significant that most reforms and improvements have been effected following disturbances and direct action by prisoners.
Parkhurst, Strangeways, Whitemoor, and Dartmoor being prime examples with other prisoner protest activity that never reaches the media.
Such prisoner rebellion clearly confirms what most of these reformers have not grasped and that is, prisons can never be administered without the consent of those confined within their walls.
The so called prisoner reform bodies and authorities have never effected a single change for those inside our prisons, they are more likely to be aghast at such prisoner rebellion and that their methods of control have at times failed
The activity of such spokespersons are confined to bourgeois soirees where they indulge in self congratulatory platitudes and propaganda, that serves only to prove that their egos are bigger than any empathy or talents which they arrogantly presume to have.
Brutality, ill-treatment and abuses are they would tell us outside of their remit, "it is more than my job is worth to investigate" they will add, which is nothing more than a tacit approval of criminal acts against prisoners.
Moreover, prisoners are accused of exaggeration, elaboration fabrication and generalisation, truth is what the 'control freaks' say it is. In introducing the Incentives and Enhanced Privilege Scheme in prisons, compliance and conformity to the whims of probation officers and psychologists determines the quality of life for the prisoner.
Being linked to Sentence Planning, we are told that offending behaviour programmes are voluntary, we are also told that voluntary drug testing is a free-choice.we do not have sign to sign compacts either, they too are voluntary.
The reality is, that to make any progress in the system and to be afforded some semblance of humanity one will be compelled to yield to the forces of coercion and do exactly what one is told, including that which is otherwise considered voluntary, for non-conformity results in being penalised, thus rendering the notion of free-will both meaningless and irrelevant.
Prison education, a one time part of prisoner rehabilitation is no more. Basic literacy skills are worthy but what happens after? Will it change the socio-economic conditions from whence many prisoners came and will no doubt return to?
For the more literate and ambitious, forget it, prisons do not like 'smart' prisoners or those articulate enough to pose a challenge which is always perceived as a threat to the status quo.
Nowadays, prisons more than ever rewards everything base and vile in man. If we betray or inform on our fellow prisoner, we are rewarded, if we compete for the favours of prison staff, we are rewarded, if we refuse to defend ourselves we are rewarded, and all these intrigues and others of the most vile sort are encouraged by prison staff and none more so than probation officers and psychologists who demand to know the innermost thoughts of prisoners.
The anti-bullying strategy in prisons has given rise to an encouragement to inform and has created situations that before would have been resolved by the inmates themselves. Now the victim becomes an informer and even less likely to command respect. He becomes an outcast, vulnerable and isolated, all the very characteristics he was desperately trying to avoid and all thanks to arrogant and presumptuous 'do-gooders' and liberals.'
I know that when I am targeted for a drug test it is not because I am suspected of illicit drug abuse, I have no drug abuse history. It is more likely to record how well the prison is doing in combating illegal drugs, for my results like many others will always be negative. It pays the prison to ignore the real problem of drugs to enable it to maintain an industry for its employees who depend very much on drug abuse and a drug culture.
Little or nothing is done to stem the floodgates of drugs, merely targeting those who acquire or use them. It will never address the causes or the emptiness of the lives of those who abuse drugs. The fraudulent use of negative results of those like myself will always be available to demonstrate to the public and civil servants that prison staff really are doing a 'good job'.
The minions of the state, the probation officer, social worker, and psychologist have little or no interest in the politics of the prisoner and even less about their prospects after release.
Unemployment, poverty, poor housing conditions, discrimination, inequality and racism, and all the other socio-economic disadvantages have no place in the remit of the liberal who will always remain arrogant and patronising, the 'we know best' brigade whom the state harnesses to carry out the functions of control and therefore the state.
Prison is but a microcosm of the liberal elite control that permeates the world around us.
In typical form, the revolutionary arrives at the party early, the liberal and so called radical arrives late and wants to know what the party was like.
These are your typical safety valves and barometers of the state machinery and not the allies that many prisoners have mistakenly come to regard them as.
Other writings by Charles Hanson
Prison Education - A Gateway to Nowhere? August 27th 2004
Probation Officers - Social Workers Or Agents Of Control? August 18th 2004
Prison Suicides, by Charles Hanson Posted 09/02/2003