Tag Archives: Prison

How Bigotry Works: Stealing “Goodness”

Standard

BNYui3TCQAAVHV6

Every once in a while, I encounter bare-faced personal bigotry aimed at me.  In many ways, I am deeply privileged and fortunate – as a member of the White tribes  – to not experience this on a daily basis; a point made regularly by those who experience bigotry they cannot ‘hide’ from, with racism being a prime example. There’s an aspect of me that believes my complaints are anaemic by comparison. They probably are if we’re playing comparison ‘games‘ where we point-score to see who has the greatest claim to being the ‘victim’. This ‘victim-competition’ between groups often seems to me to contribute to the overall problem because it continues to frame us within the bigotry dynamic and it is this that I am trying to get a handle on. I want to understand, on my terms, exactly what is going on.

 

The advantage of my example is that, because there are clearly disturbing facts involved, it forces people to think about their attitudes and identifies those who refuse to. My example concerns bigotry towards criminals, particularly prisoners. When it turned up on my twitter timeline this morning, it looked like this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #053 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @Prison_Diaries @wildwalkerwoman ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358773050009219072

 

For those interested in the full exchange this tweet was contributing to, it can be found here. This ‘contributor’ brought with them a whole barrel-load of bigotry to a twitter conversation between a serving prisoner (with an illicit cellphone) and a former prisoner. The conversation focused mainly on our own experience, so this ‘new’ contribution was unsought yet shines a very clear light on how bigotry works within the UK prison system. For example: there is the contributor’s assumption of the reasons we were banged-up at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’. Despite the fact that I have no criminal convictions for murder, rape or paedophilia, here are the same old ‘charges’ because… well, you know, all prisoners are ‘bad’ so who cares about the details? In addition, the ‘contributor’ was also under the impression that s/he had been very clever in ‘outing’ us two criminals because, well, we were busy hiding our true status from our followers. S/he really ought to have checked out facts first before leaping to such conclusions, as I pointed out in my response:-

 

FireShot Screen Capture #059 - 'Twitter _ wildwalkerwoman_ _@dylanandmolly My _revelations_ ___' - twitter_com_wildwalkerwoman_status_358818656513298434

 

Whilst I may not always agree with @Prison_Diaries, one thing is for certain; neither of us disguise our status. We are upfront about our situation, so we can already begin to see the signs of bigotry from our contributor. S/he obviously thinks that s/he’s got one ‘over’ the pair of us when, in fact, the so-called ‘revelation’ is nothing new to any of our followers. In my own case, I discuss my offences and their consequences regularly because I believe these are conversations that need to occur.

 

@Prison_diaries had a longer twitter conversation with this contributor and came to the conclusion that he was probably talking to a prison screw.  ‘Screws’ are the prisoner’s pejorative term for Prison Officers who believe it is their personal mission to make our lives as miserable as possible. I’ve met quite a few on my journey through prison but I have also met those staff who are genuinely professional and have earned their title of ‘officer’. Those are the Officers who comply with Prison Rules, which clearly state the standards expected of both prisoner and officer alike:

 

Purpose of prison training and treatment

3.  The purpose of the training and treatment of convicted prisoners shall be to encourage and assist them to lead a good and useful life.

Maintenance of order and discipline

6.—(1) Order and discipline shall be maintained with firmness, but with no more restriction than is required for safe custody and well ordered community life.
(2) In the control of prisoners, officers shall seek to influence them through their own example and leadership, and to enlist their willing co-operation.
(3) At all times the treatment of prisoners shall be such as to encourage their self-respect and a sense of personal responsibility, but a prisoner shall not be employed in any disciplinary capacity.

Use of force

47.—(1) An officer in dealing with a prisoner shall not use force unnecessarily and, when the application of force to a prisoner is necessary, no more force than is necessary shall be used.
(2) No officer shall act deliberately in a manner calculated to provoke a prisoner.(my emphasis)

 

As a prisoner, I met and came to deeply respect all those Prison Officers who understood the spirit contained within these rules. With this standard of staff on duty, it was possible to meet the requirements laid upon me under Rule 6(3). With ‘screws’, however, it was not because they failed in their own responsibilities. After a while, prisoners learn to tell these staff apart because it shows up in their attitude. For example:

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #061 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike murdering bastards_ (A lot)' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778210794082305

This does not bode well for any lifer or IPP-sentenced prisoner, even though professional Prison staff are perfectly capable of treating prisoners with human understanding – as has been my own experience by the very best officers. If this contributor is actually working in the Prison estate, I wonder how s/he complies with Prison Rule 3.

 

Then came this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #060 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike whining whinging ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778697874014208

 

So if this were a Prison Officer on duty and I, as a prisoner, had a genuine problem, what kind of ‘extraordinary’ job would s/he do. Even an ‘ordinary’ job might be better than anything done by someone with this attitude. But I saved the best for last:-

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #062 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @MuslimPrisoners fuck off and ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358771544211718144

I wonder, from this tweet, exactly how this ‘ordinary’ person is doing an ‘extraordinary’ job. Precisely how does this comply with Prison Rules 6 or 42(b)? In fact, as far as I am aware, the Prison Service screens-out such people from their recruitment process because these screws cause far more problems than they ever solve. It is a build-up of such attitudes within prisons that eventually result in riots.

 

If the Prison Service wants me to report the good work done by Prison Officers – often in the teeth of opposition from those who regard prisoners as worthless – I would be happy to provide chapter and verse because I met many staff who truly were extraordinary but this contributor is not one of them. S/he may well have ‘reported’ @Prison_Diaries for breaking prison discipline but let’s make sure the reporting is evenly balanced because I’m not sure it is at present. Perhaps it might be worth noting that my own prison disciplinary record in prison was spotless and I never lost my enhanced IEP status over a total period of almost five years. Somehow I doubt this ‘contributor’ could manage that themselves based upon their present behavioural standards. Indeed, from my perspective, there is little difference between the attitudes expressed above and the worst of the worst prisoners I ever came across.

 

So I can take these exchanges apart to see where the problems are occurring – if  prison staff cannot model the behaviour they are demanding, they are really not in any position to complain when prisoners break rules too. Personally, I regard this contributors behaviour as provocative, which was why I blocked them. But that is not what this blog is about. This is about ‘stealing goodness’ and I wonder if it applies to all forms of bigotry but I won’t know until I ask.

 

BPsDzGGCIAAuRIcIf we accept that human beings – regardless of individuality – are a mixture of good and bad, then what seems to occur is that bigots steal ‘goodness’  by colonizing it for themselves whilst irresponsibly dumping all their own undesirable personal aspects upon the ‘object’ of their hatred.

 

Those who are hated in this way are reduced to having ‘no good in them at all’ whilst the bigots claim all the best parts for themselves. This contributor ‘dislikes murdering bastards a lot’ – clearly this is considered ‘good’ in his/her eyes because there is no hesitation in tweeting it. S/he claims to be an ‘ordinary’ person doing an ‘extraordinary’ job – I wonder if the Muslim prisoners would agree… ah, but they are “fuck-off and die ‘retards'”. Notice how even their prayers are hijacked to bolster the self-claimed ‘goodness’ of this screw.

 

To “turn away” from the “self and/or other” destructive evil impulse within ourselves and to “turn towards” and reorient ourselves towards the good is to genuinely “repent.” Repentance is the highest expression of humanity’s capacity to choose freely – it is a manifestation of the divine in humanity. Repentance is a living manifestation of the power within us to extricate ourselves from the binding power of…  the chains of endless causality that otherwise compel us to follow a path of “no return.” As Jung points out, “The sin to be repented, of course, is unconsciousness.” From the Kabbalah’s point of view, a “sinner” who “repents” is on a higher level than the saint who has never sinned.  (link)

 

tumblr_m7f5b0Rgak1qz4d4bo1_500In a civilised society, prison is a corrective measure but in an uncivilised one, it is a tool of repression. This ‘contributor’ assumes that his/her views are acceptable – why else make such remarks or comment so negatively on a conversation between two people who were sharing personal experiences of prison? The contributor is quick to implement procedures to silence @Prison_Diaries but I do wonder where they think they got the power to silence me. My sentence was spent in 2010, I haven’t reoffended and I continue to work to desistance standards even now. Yet this possibility seems to be beyond the imagination of this contributor. Indeed, I’d put my chances of rehabilitation at zero if I were ‘managed’ in this way and from this perspective. The contributor feeds his angry, jealous, greedy, resentful and inferior ego with lies and denies those s/he despises of any joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth – despite the fact that the Prison Rules themselves point in that general direction.

 

This is bigotry and, as far as I can see, it crosses all the intersections that link universal bigotry of all descriptions. Perhaps it is rooted in inferiority – it must surely be a painful place to live if the only goodness we can ascribe to ourselves has to be stolen from those who we attack, despise and look down upon. Are these people not capable of funding their own goodness by feeding their personal Good Wolf?

 

And if they can’t, then they have no business working in the criminal justice system because, until they start locking-in their own bigotry and learning what it means to rehabilitate their own attitudes, they are unfit to do the job and consequently bring the Prison Service into disrepute. Prison staff are not exempt from discipline, no matter how much our contributor may like to think otherwise:

 

Code of discipline

68.  The Secretary of State may approve a code of discipline to have effect in relation to officers, or such classes of officers as it may specify, setting out the offences against discipline, the awards which may be made in respect of them and the procedure for dealing with charges. (Prison Rules 1999)

 

Stealing goodness from others is a lazy and incompetent way of failing to live your own life. Because this goodness is stolen from those who are willing to learn – in any number of different ways – it cannot last. Our own shadow will find us out – as it appears to have done to the contributor today. It isn’t the prisoners/former prisoners who emerge from this situation looking dishonest, but a self-proclaimed ‘extraordinary’ employee of the Prison Service.

 

And we wonder why we fail at rehabilitation in this country!

 

BPYHzS0CEAIqBbk

Advertisements

Professional Betrayals towards Women in Prison

Standard

woman_in_cage

 

Whilst rustling through my surprisingly extensive collection of blogs looking for a particular prison story, I came across this. It’s the blog I wrote and posted immediately before my heart-attack (same day) and in scanning through it’s contents for the telling-tale I was after, my eye fell upon these words..

 

You may not know this, but research into women offenders ‘in their own right’ is relatively new. For years, all research on offenders was based upon male offending. The researchers were just beginning to take notice of us women when I was in prison in 2008/9 and they found they had to go back to the drawing board.

 

And therein lies another whole story that it is time to bring out into daylight for ethical supervision.

 

We hear a lot of propaganda  from Criminal Justice professionals about their ‘dedication’. For some, this is undoubtedly true but we – us criminals down here – don’t get much of a voice about how that dedication works.

 

Let’s have a look at the psychologist’s take on women prisoners – the majority are designed for men. I’ve taken part in any number of surveys and research studies during my time as a prisoner but no-one ever came back and told me what they found. Some ‘choice’ questionnaires were so obviously designed for the male psyche, I doubt if they got any worthwhile information at all. But there was one I took part in. I’m sure the woman in question will deny it because she’s bound by her ethics to maintain my confidentiality. That word, ‘confidentiality’ is not designed to protect me – not one bit of it – it’s there to protect her. Let’s see what happens to your, the reader’s, sense of personal ethics as my tale unfolds.

 

This particular piece of research was done on the High-Security wing at HMP Low Newton. This wing was also home to the Primrose Unit – a Rampton Hospital out-reach for prisoners with serious mental health problems. As far as I know, it was the first of its kind which, in itself, would have produced lots of research material too. This particular project was sold to me – I forget by whom – as one of the first real studies into women’s criminality and mental health. I didn’t quite fit the criteria but, because I was considered something of a rare bird, I was asked if I minded being thrown to the researcher (metaphorically speaking). I didn’t mind at all. There was a very great deal wrong with the way my peers were being treated. If there was a psychologist around willing to listen, I was more than willing to talk and I did.

 

The research was, I found, much more conversational and we covered a very great deal of professional ground. My background as both psychotherapist and shaman meant we had considerable common-ground. But our reasons for being there were very different. On my part, I shared so much of myself because I wanted to show that I knew what I was talking about. In fact, we shared many professional agreements and I came away hopeful that, somewhere, a psychologist would do the math and start producing ways of helping these women emerge from their prison experience. Most are not supposed to be there. I retained good memories of that experience but like all the other researchers before her, I never got to see the fruit of our joint efforts.

 

I can see why. When I did a quick google search, it produced this and this.

 

I wasn’t told the research I was being asked to participate in was a study in women’s psychopathy. I was told it was the among the first studies for targeting women prisoners. I helped because I genuinely thought the intention was to help my peers. Instead I find the researcher teaching her peers to fear and hate us – everything human has been stripped away from me. My name. My identity. My compassion and strength. My Honour and Dignity. I am labelled psychopath simply from having participated in the study. So where did my value, my individuality, my creativity go if all I am left with is the epithet ‘psychopath’.

 

All my skills, generosity, honesty, truthfulness and humanity were offered up to a ‘professional’ who purported to be genuinely interested in understanding women prisoners. Instead, I discover she went straight off and got her doctorate in selling the ‘professional’ idea of psychopathy which she obtained, under false pretences, from women who have been subject to the grossest forms of abuse already. We are all robbed of our identity but not so we can be seen on our terms and given the help we need. This research was done to the further the individual career-path of said researcher by giving her a title – she can call herself a  ‘Chartered’ Psychologist now – with a reputation for knowing about psychopaths. And the unidentified women who are the  source of all this wealth and success? Probably still where they are; cutting, ligaturing, going more insane as the cruelty of the Prison Service increases, even though we’ve known for over five years that eighty percent shouldn’t be there.

 

Either you are a professional who understands the proper healthy ethical standard or you don’t.

 

As a former qualified and acceditted Gestalt psychotherapist with twelve years London-based private practice, I see no ethics at all in the above arrangement. If that is what passes for ethical practice in psychology, the entire profession should be shut down. I’ve never seen anything more disgraceful in my life and no amount of apologising will do. It won’t cut it. This is the most appalling example of professional abuse and I cannot express my rage, I am so angry.

 

Just who the fuck do you people think you are!!!

 

How DARE you treat another human being that way. That researcher wasn’t alone. She has tutors and whatnot involved in what she was producing – it’s a conspiracy to rob abused women of any remaining compassion around.

 

When something is unethical, it is unholy.

 

May God forgive you because I’m not sure I can.

 

The Fruit of this Research are not true. They are not even true in Hell.

 

 

 

 

“I am a Fighter and a Lover” #Prison #TellingTale

Standard

tumblr_m30321Rhr51rov67do1_500

When I publish material like this it upsets my friends. Some come to stand alongside my despair and urge me to rest whilst other fellow warriors demand that I fight on; to not let the bastards win. They are all right but, when seen together, these are paradoxical injunctions – a “Catch-22”.

 

Here is a woman prisoner’s Telling-Tale about that problem which, this morning, I found myself relating to a very dear friend of mine:

 

 

The stuff you talk about re fighters is quite true and 35 years ago I would have agreed with you – until I learned, in therapy, to take my armour off. Here’s why…

You are quite right to say we need armour when dealing with the Dark Side. The thing to remember is that, although there will always be one Dark Star somewhere in the midst of cruelty, they lead groups of ‘followers’ who, in one way or another, behave like Dark Stars but would choose differently if they believed they had an authentic free choice. A true warrior must be able to differentiate between the two – absolutely vital if we are not to ‘become’ our enemy –  so we have to engage each person individually to find out what they are made of. Whilst Jesus might use the sword against the Dark Side, he offers the other cheek to brothers and sisters. To be able to learn these differences requires us to take our armour off. In therapy, the best defence is no defence and it is this that is the key to transforming others.

Here’s how it works: Those who battle the Dark Side need armour in order to survive – this is the Warrior aspect of shamanism – but our armour is our faith, which means we battle within the Law. We must make every effort to avoid inflicting unnecessary harm. However, once we have beaten our opponent, we must offer them a choice – true Faith is always rooted in Free Will. If our opponent – at any stage in the war –  surrenders to the Truth, a true Warrior must immediately move to the Healer position. Our opponent may have fought with us because they needed to be shown that the Dark Forces, who had “possessed” their Soul’s absolute entitlement to free choice, can be vanquished because they didn’t know it could be. When they went into battle, they endured terrible losses instead. When that has happened to me personally, and my opponent has surrendered, I must immediately put up my weapons and extend the hand of friendship if I am to remain ethical – I must support and empower this new choice they have made.

The example I’m thinking of occurred on the block at New Hall – when I was first in prison.

In 2003, the women’s prison ‘Area’ which covered all of the North was managed by this man. So despite the fact that HMP New Hall actually had a very competent women Governor-In-Charge who authorised all kinds of innovations (certainly for me), she could be easily undermined by going over her head to this Area Manager. One governor who did this was in charge of the Segregation Unit where I was first remanded from court. He was an active Dark Star, so all the orders he issued would have carried that energy. Responsible for the day-to-day running of the Unit, was a chap – let’s call him John – who, although a committed ‘by-the-book’ man – carried out these orders, so his behaviour looked just like the governor’s. I was to learn later that he didn’t know how to challenge what was occurring on his watch. He did, none-the-less, have a very high reputation amongst those efficient staff he managed, and he needed his ‘governor-given’ authority to deal with the ones that weren’t (there were a few of them too).

So when I arrived in prison on remand, instead of coming into the prison on ‘standard-treatment’ (with my known suicidal ideation/behaviour less than 2 years old), instead of putting me on suicide watch (a very common occurrence amongst women on remand at that time) in Healthcare, I was actually taken to the punishment block and put straight on to their full-on punishment regime. I bet the unit’s governor got a nice little back-hander from the criminals in Hull for doing that.

Punishment regimes are 23-hour lock-up. No TV. No nothing apart from a fixed bed and a cardboard chair and table. I wasn’t inducted into the prison regime so I had to learn as I went along. I know the wing has me recorded as being ‘standard’ but that is not how I was treated. The wing day officers were casually abusive and the governor took great pleasure in ensuring our lives were as rotten as possible. Meds were abused by staff on the unit. There were a couple of bi-polar women experiencing the mania that is triggered by such casual abuse. ‘Nessun dorma’ (“No-one sleeps”) wasn’t the half of it. The whole place had the aura of a medieval torture chamber. So I fought.

It took me a month to force the unit to start treating me as a standard prisoner. I did that by putting in an “App” asking to be informed of the ‘sins’ for which I was clearly at fault, due to my punishment regime, but which I couldn’t correct because I didn’t know what they were. John, the SO – “Rulebook Man”, must have squared-off the governor because the way I was treated improved dramatically. It was still 23-hour lockdown but I was given proper furniture to begin with and, soon after, moved to one of the ‘long-stay’ cells for prisoners like me.

(Let’s observe here that I spent 9 months continuously on that block – solitary confinement. Prison Rules forbid the use of solitary confinement for longer than 28 days if a woman has been convicted – if, however, you can use mental health reasons, there is no limit to how long you can keep a woman in solitary confinement. If you are guilty, it’s fixed. If you are ‘innocent’, they can throw away the key – or that’s how it seemed to me at the time. Certainly, there was one 21 year-old who spent 14 months there. The Unit taught her serious self-harming and suicide – fortunately she ended up at Rampton but not before two other prisons had fucked her over too.)

So, anyway, my conditions improved but by this time, I’d become very difficult. I was demanding copies of the Prison Rules, Orders, Advice etc from governors who had to visit me daily (Prison Rules require that prisoners in solitary are visited daily by a governor, a GP and a ‘priest’). There were some lovely people who were ‘forced’ to visit me daily and there were some absolute dogs. From the best, I would ask for things I could reasonably guess were permitted (like library access) and they’d issue the orders to John who would carry them out. He would also carry out the Dark One’s orders and, much like now, I got handy with the complaints procedures to deal with the problems they caused.

This one day I put in a complaint about the way I was being treated and said it put me in a Catch-22. As Senior Officer on the wing, John was always first port-of-call for complaints and, although he was a competent man, he hadn’t had the benefit of a wider education. I didn’t know this. From what followed, I learned a great deal about what he thought I was doing. He marched into my cell whilst I was sitting writing, threw my complaint on my desk, furiously demanding I write in plain English and cease using my intellect to play tricks on him because he didn’t know what a Catch-22 was. He thought I was trying to make him look stupid when I was, in fact, treating him as the intelligent human being I believed him to be. It was a moment studied with irony and paradox. He was also wrong and I had to sit and take all his pent-up aggression (probably from dealing with his governor boss) in silence and without response. How does anyone respond to such an attack anyway? Fighting would certainly not have worked!

When we are good people, we know when we’ve done something wrong. If we’ve been subject to abuse we were unable to stop ourselves, we are instinctively drawn to people who do know how to stop it. John will have figured out – somewhere in his being – that here was someone he could ‘show’ his problem too (however unconsciously). By getting himself into that ‘sin’ of mistreating a prisoner, he woke up. I don’t know what happened to him but he never treated me that way again. I think I got hold of the Segregation Unit PSO soon afterwards. It was the strangest experience because here, written down in Prison-speak, was exactly what I had been arguing for in the unit in my own ‘over-educated’ way (not bad for a 16 year-old school-leaver!). When I started using PSO rules, the SO and I were singing from the same hymn sheet. That was when I could start showing him that the unit governor was issuing forbidden orders.

For example: the treatment on meted out on that block triggered my suicidal ideation and I was eventually put on suicide-watch (PSO2052) by the Governor-In-Charge. The Unit governor hated this but although he was forced to follow procedures, it meant he did it badly, seething with fury all the while. On one occasion, when my ideation was running high, I asked this governor – during his daily visit – if it made any difference to him whether I lived or died? I insisted on a Yes or No answer. His answer was No. John was witness to that. When I complained about it, I was informed – by one of the governor’s acting-PO lackeys, that I had asked an inappropriate question. When I appealed, it was answered by the Governor himself (I’m sure I sent a copy of it to Ann Owers – I met her when I was on that Unit); when I appealed again, it was was the lackey who  replied again; he was indignant that I had dare to question a governor (as far as I recall). I suspect that particular complaint never found its way into the records – there was something odd about the reference number – if John wasn’t around, some staff had no problem with circumventing the system for their friends. (Another example was how the Unit managed to update my computer records to show I’d been convicted but failed to update the reasons why. I discovered my record showed I’d been convicted of Attempted Murder when I was in HMP Durham. I had to write to Hull Crown Court asking them to correct the Prison Service because they clearly were mistaken. I wonder what difference that mistake made to my treatment in Durham?)

 
I have a very great deal of affection for that New Hall SO. He was a good man, subject to managerial abuse, trying his best in a nightmare situation for all of us. He had to witness the governor ‘ordering’ me not to ‘Love’ him, at which point I asked if it was alright for me to like him instead? It is not possible to share such experiences without developing affection – call it ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ if you like but people who know – or are willing to learn – how to remain human under fire are worth their weight in gold. We take off our armour in the presence of such people and compare scars, treat wounds, heal each other.

But to do that, we have to know how to take off our armour. If we can’t, all we can ever do is repeat the problem. We need every bit of armour we can muster when we are dealing with the Dark Ones but we MUST take it off when we are amongst friends so we can find out just how much our battle is costing us.

 

BNi7yGACEAArjF1

Idle No More UK

Idle No More UK

 

Desistance, Resistance, Women and Fireworks

Standard

Would be delighted to credit this beautiful artwork

 

Bonfire Night

 

 

My very dear Jules,

 

Warning: I really need to vent what’s inside. Blue-touch-paper is already lit, so stand well back from this firework 😉

 

Thank you so much for your intuition. I could do with a thoughtful woman’s response to this. Dusty provided the warrior-response by commenting that there was a lot of pain in the post which, through all the confusion and memories that were swirling through my psyche, I hadn’t actually felt – although I probably did at the time. That’s how trauma gets its hooks into me.

 

The problem I seem to be having is finding a way to comfortably bridge the abyss of understanding that seems to exist between the desistance Criminal Justice professionals I want to impress and me. Why do I want to do I want to impress them? Firstly, because they are impressive people themselves and they are unlikely to take any notice if I don’t! Secondly, because my ambition to return to paid self-employment has just come one step nearer. My work has attracted an admirer who might be willing to invest in me financially while I pursue the issue of women’s desistance. The impact of that possibility has turned up the pressure on my professionalism – which is great, in one way, and proving to be an absolute disaster in others.

 

In every tough experience I’ve ever come through, I’ve always had a ‘crack-up’ point and, interestingly, it’s never been the battles themselves but either some unexpected kindness or cruelty afterwards. With the latter, I’ve normally crumpled into overwhelming emotional pain much to the alarm of my better ‘handlers’ (the memory here comes from New Hall, where the officers tried to stop my tears by telling me how strong they thought I was – I am strong, but I’m not invulnerable). The melt-down I’m in now is the result of a long sequence of kindnesses that have supported my desistance ambitions. There’s my potential benefactor and her willingness to consider funding me. There are people like you and James and Dusty who, after I’ve made certain you all know the worst there is to know about me, have become friends of profound creativity. There are my longer term friends from the Guardian; all now in exile on Twitter. But the ‘big names’ of desistance, like No Offence and all these University professors are new to their ‘experience’ of me. They are the ones I am going to need if I am to really return to public service in my own way and here I am in a global public melt-down apparently confusing the hell out of them. Each time I open my mouth, all I seem to be doing is changing feet.

 

I feel very passionately about women’s desistance. I feel very passionately about how women prisoners are treated generally. This country has a whole bunch of women in prison – mainly for acquisitive crimes – who, according to Lady Jean Corston, shouldn’t be there – they don’t belong in prison. She said that in her Report  five years ago and, I understand, there has been a great deal of work done to divert women offenders from custodial sentences since then but nothing is being done for those already in the system.

 

The women’s estate is very much a poor relative within the Prison Service. We account for between 4-8 prisoners for every 100 incarcerated. The Criminal Justice system knows very little – apart from those officers who take the trouble to learn – about women. Corston described the system as designed by men for men, and she’s absolutely right. For a woman, this means ours is the experience of highly-controlling condemnatory paternalism coupled with an absolute refusal to engage on the emotional level or, sometimes, to even recognise its existence. Remember I am looking at this with a psychotherapist’s eye.

 

The women’s response is to self-harm, suicide or, in some way or another, go quietly insane. We lose our bearings emotionally and the punishment regimes can be continuous over long periods until whole wings are screaming, which means something has to be done to ease the pain and a woman dies. The levels of emotional pain these 4-8 women prisoners carry is enough to fill around 50% of the self-harm statistics for the entire 100 – that’s how bad it is. These figures rise and fall, but in no significant degree away from half the pain for the whole bally lot of them. There are those who understand how bad it is but I’m not certain these statistics quite sink in with the best of the criminal justice ‘family’.

 

Jean Corston’s Report wanted the women out of prison within ten years. We have five years left and we haven’t even looked at what to do for the women still imprisoned. It’s as if everyone has found something more important to do. That’s not to say that there aren’t more important things – there seem to be so many of them these days, I have to be very selective where I put my energy. But I do think we need more energy around Corston and women’s desistance because while everyone is faffing around elsewhere, 4-8 living breathing women are carrying the emotional burden for 100. As the justice system swings into attrition mode, this burden will increase as will the cutting, ligaturing and inevitable suicides. Women’s prisons – at their best – are relationship-heavy. The Prison Service is cutting staff across the board, so this reduces the capacity for relating between women prisoners and staff as well as placing an impossible burden on the good staff themselves. They are the ones who see our distress and it hurts them when they can’t help us because we are being systemically abused. These are the staff who arrive in the ‘nick-of-time’ to save a woman’s life and they are being set up to fail. Fail to implement Corston, and the suicidal women who succeeds in dying may have cause to be grateful because the alternative is no life worth living. It is an argument I had with all the prisons I was in and I knowingly put my health and life at risk in my refusal to accept what was on offer. The need to implement this empty-prison aspect of Corston is becoming more urgent every day – these women don’t belong in prison. So why are they still there and why are they now being subject to a heavier level of systemic judicial punishment through the criminal neglect of their needs purely on the grounds of gender? These women are already recognised as having a far higher chance of being victims of abuse than the general population – so these victims are now being further victimised by a system that doesn’t know how to relate to women and demonstrates no interest in learning.

 

You may not know this, but research into women offenders ‘in their own right’ is relatively new. For years, all research on offenders was based upon male offending. The researchers were just beginning to take notice of us women when I was in prison in 2008/9 and they found they had to go back to the drawing board. The reasons women offend are totally unrelated to anything men do – we have our own reasons. When women are imprisoned, families break down and children end up in care – men don’t seem to have that problem so much.  Issues around housing and work are harder for women offenders. As far as I can see, because the Criminal Justice system doesn’t know how to deal with women, they are doing what they usually do by putting their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. They won’t take any real notice until the death toll gets embarrassing. Evidence? It’s what they did with the women’s wing at HMP Durham, eventually closing it down altogether but not before one last suicide. When the last lass died, the number of women being held in that prison was in single digits. That fucking regime couldn’t muster any compassion for a small handful of women when just ordinary compassion would simply be to treat women with the same level of consideration given to men. It illustrates just how bad it can get in prison on a very bad day.

 

I’m pushing women’s desistance because I think it would be a way to implement Corston. It could look out for the lasses on their terms and still meet reparative justice demands but it would have to be reparative on both sides. I have this fantasy of a women’s desistance project in my village. We have unused allotments, impoverished villagers and a global famine on the way. In my mind, I see women desisters earning their freedom by growing food; by ensuring there is a free breakfast club at the local school; by any number of other ways we could identify to contribute to the community – with the eventual aim of sending our ‘graduates’ out to teach other people how to do it, either as employees or paid consultants. Such a project would, by its very nature, be labour intensive but it would be a fixed term thing. Once the women are out of the system, there’d be no need for more unless the men steal our ideas because the methodology might work for them too. Before then, in my mind, desistance women would have taught themselves about social enterprises and creating their own work. Homes, work and a new social worth might go some considerable way to enabling these women to let go of their past.

 

The women emerging from these prisons have been living in emotional concentration/death camps – some have been in them all their lives. They are going to be disoriented and suffering from extreme emotional damage. I suppose that’s why I thought it so important to ‘do’ my melt-down in public – if people can begin to get a grasp of how I continue to be affected, then that might elicit some compassion for those women who have come through much, much worse. Example? How about Naz (eventually transferred to a psychiatric hospital (what was needed from the outset)) who performed her own mastectomies – not once but on several occasions? That was not her worst behaviour. When I talk about the women who cut, I’m talking about those whose arms, legs and probably elsewhere consist of scar tissue. There is no place on their arms where they haven’t cut. My sweetest friend, Melissa, has arms like that. The women’s obvious distress is so bad it disturbs the sleep of independent witnesses.

 

I wonder if part of the reason criminal justice finds this so hard to get to grips with are due the levels of professional complicity in not only creating but perpetuating this situation. They can’t say they don’t know anymore because Corston told them. She was shocked by what she saw five years ago. It seems some women’s prisons still refuse to learn today. As far as I am concerned, this report about New Hall suggests that they continue to use psychological torture on some women prisoners held within the Segregation Unit.

 

I wonder if they still fuck with our meds, like they used to. Or put newly remanded, first-time-in-prison, first night woman into solitary confinement at BASIC C&C and keep her on that regime for a month (without induction). I had to put in an app asking what it was I’d done wrong to be treated in such a way so that I could correct it, before I was brought up to STANDARD (the automatic entry point for all new prisoners). But that won’t show up on the prison’s computer in just the same way that my correct conviction didn’t either. New Hall transferred me to Durham with a record that claimed I’d been convicted for attempted murder. No – I was charged with attempted murder, based on fraudulent documents; I was convicted of wounding-with-intent after I successfully defended myself in court by demonstrating the documents were frauds. I had to write to Hull Crown Court and ask them to inform HMP Durham about the facts of my convictions because we can be certain that the prison would never have taken my word for it. They certainly thought I was lying about my psychotherapeutic past because they told my vulnerable young friend from New Hall solitary this after they’d ghosted me out. Fortunately, I had a good enough relationship with Toni to be able to laugh it off by saying that perhaps they could fill in this missing seventeen-year gap in my history where I’m convinced that’s what I was and can produce witnesses. Toni ended up cutting badly and now has a long history of suicide attempts including one very near miss indeed. It is profoundly unethical to lie to someone with existing mental health problems. Fortunately, Toni made it to hospital too – there are many who don’t.

 

Jules – is it alright for me to be blisteringly angry about all this? Or did I have it coming because I’m a criminal? This is the criminal justice mind-fuck. I know how I feel and I hear the other trotted out often enough even from the criminals in the men’s estate. But the biggest perpetrator of the “had-it-coming” mind-fuck, as far as I am concerned, is Probation.  This is where desistance becomes necessary on all sides. Whilst the Criminal Justice system fails to desist in its profoundly cruel and unjust treatment of women prisoners, nothing gets done to stop it. The system is so busy looking round pointing its fingers at us, it forgets three other fingers point straight back. But I’m not going to help matters if I join in the blame game too, even though the desire to deal with some of those bastards is, at times, overwhelming.

 

*SCREAMS*

HOW DARE YOU TREAT WOMEN – TO WHOM YOU OWE A DUTY OF CARE – IN THIS WAY!!!! HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO BE TOLD THAT WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS ABUSIVE AND CRUEL????

 

I’ve been a desister from the moment of my offence. If I can do it, so can they. We simply have to be professional about it. You’re a wise woman, Jules. How is a woman like me supposed to feel in the face of this stuff? How is she supposed to behave? And how am I doing in my ambition to be professional around women’s desistance?

 

And, just thank you, thank you, thank you for asking and, more especially, my friend.

 

All my love

 

Dee

 

The Judgment of Assange

Standard

At the time of writing this, in just under an hour’s time the Supreme Court of the UK will ‘hand down’ its decision in the extradition case of Julian Assange. Whichever way the decision goes, it will have a global impact because it will inform the choices of all those watching as well as all those who are not.

Although the decision has already been made by the judges involved, the public declaration is going to collapse much potential into an energy that will function globally. It actually doesn’t matter which way the decision goes, those energies are poised for action regardless.

In very many ways, the Judgment of Assange – and the Judgment of Bradley Manning – will confirm for people across the planet of the type of ‘world’ we live in. Much potential has already collapsed into energy already – this is simply another step in a process that began a long time ago in the heart of Julian Assange. If there ever was an example of the Butterfly Effect within the collective human psyche, this is it and it began with a moment just like this.

At some point in his past, Julian Assange, and all those like him, faced a choice. It probably seemed like a very small choice at the time but it will have been as pivotal as this moment now. The choice impacted on the essence of the man. It will have asked him to choose between what he truly believed in and what the world was demanding of him at the time. There will have been no way that Julian will have known what the consequences of that decision would be. The Julian, and the Bradley, who made that choice were not the men they are now. They would not have been famous or celebrities – they would have been ordinary men making what seemed to them to be an important decision about something their hearts felt strongly about. In making that initial choice and in continuing to hold to it, they collapsed a potential into a bubbling spring of energy which subsequently grown into a great river. Others, faced with their own personal human heart-choice, have chosen to link into the obscure Judgment of Assange all those years ago, whether they were aware of it or not. The flapping of the wings of a Swedish Butterfly has resulted in a storm the likes of which the world has not seen before.

Every judgment we make tells the universe a very great deal about us. Every choice of the heart we act upon impacts on the collective energy of the world because when we make such a choice we take the first step in a Dance. Some of us choose the ‘Dance of Life-Death-Life’; some don’t choose at all (which is still a choice); and some choose the ‘Dance of Death-for-Others’.

Once we have made our decision, life has a tendency to test us to find out whether we really mean it. Our heart-choices cease to be based on that first, single decision but upon that decision made over and over again. It stops being a choice and becomes who we are. There will have come a moment for Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and all those like them when, normally sitting alone in a prison or police cell, we wonder whether we could or would have done anything differently and the answer we find in ourselves is “No”. We have become our choice. We are living our choice and we are face to face with those who have decided we should ‘die’ for our choice in one way or another.

Julian, Bradley and all those imprisoned for their decision to choose the Dance of Life-Death-Life are facing down all those who choose the ‘Dance of Death-For-Others’. This is the pivotal difference between the two Dances. Those who choose the Dance of Life-Death-Life will have come to understand, at some point, that they might have to die in order to honour the decision of their heart. It’s not something that we consider in the moment of our first time of choosing, it’s a realisation that comes as a result of the consequences. If the individual hasn’t realised this before, sitting alone in a prison cell will certainly bring it home. I know because I’ve been there.

When the heart-choices of individual people results in imprisonment, we begin to find out what we are made of because we are directly encountering those who are not made of the same stuff. We will discover – sometimes to our astonishment – that there really are those who choose the Dance of Death-for-Others and we have had our cards marked by them because they intend to kill our energy in some way or another. It is an ancient archetype of a dance and the steps are already known.

Those who choose the Dance-of-Death-for-Others, rather than the Dance of Life-Death-Life, will lose because they are dancing with those who realise they are willing to die because they choose Life. The planet Herself chooses the Dance of Life-Death-Life. Whilst death belongs, it is not the end of the story. Those who choose Death-for-Others continue to fail to understand this, even though the lesson has been taught many times over. In living memory, it has been taught by the likes of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jnr, Gandhi and others like them. It is taught by Obi Wan Kenobi in the film ‘Star Wars’.

When the Dance of Death-of-Others chooses to kill, they create overwhelming evidence of intent to murder, whether the target dies at their hands or not. With the likes of the Assanges and Mannings of this world, this murderous intent becomes clearer and the heart-spirit of the individual involved starts to awaken the heart-spirit in others. What began as the wing-beating of a single person’s heart becomes a mighty river of energy that, with the murder of the individual or a Supreme Court decision, flushes that evolved power into the Ocean of the collective Heart-Spirit, becoming the global point of no return. This is the moment we are experiencing now as I write these words.

The Judgment of Assange by the Supreme Court is now known to the world – the river has joined the ocean in challenging the global grip of a system that chooses Death-for-Others. It doesn’t matter which way the decision has gone for the global Heart-Spirit because it is now aware, awake and active. It matters to Julian and it matters to his campaigning mother, Christine. It matters to all those who – regardless of any disagreement on detail – believe Wikileaks is vital within a system built on lies and corruption. The decision matters to Anonymous. It matters to Occupy. It matters to a planet whose creative energy is based in the Dance of Life-Death-Life and it is going to matter to all those who have tried to kill, quash or otherwise destroy the uprising of Heart-Spirit within ordinary people of the planet.

If the Court’s decision has gone against Assange, the impact on all those awake to this dynamic is going to be infinite. It will affect every aspect of their being in one way or another. It will impact upon those who are capable of awakening and who have kept hoping, in vain, that some kind of sanity might be present within our collective legal systems. It will impact upon our emerging global consciousness. It will vitalise the Life-Death-Life energy. But here’s the thing…

If the Court’s decision has gone in Assange’s favour, it will have the same impact because it will tell the global consciousness that the awakening can and does succeed if we hold to our Heart-Decisions. It will revitalise the awakening movements as one of their leaders is returned to us and we turn our attention to the next Great Spirit River called Bradley Manning. As the cases of imprisoned Anons reach the courts, the same energy will occur but Assange is the first, the lighting of the blue touch paper of the Life-Death-Life fireworks.

The Life-Death-Life energy is the true power on this planet. It actually doesn’t matter which way the decision goes in collective terms, what matters is the Heart-Spirit. This is the same Heart-Spirit found in the jail-cell reflections of the target who asks “Would I have done any differently?” only to find that their answer is “No”. It is the same Heart-Energy found in Egyptians realising that they so-called system of democracy is, in truth, nothing of the sort. It is the same Heart-Energy found in Syrians who, in the face of the latest national regime specialising in absolute cruelty still find it in themselves to say “No”. It is found in the Heart-Energy of all those peoples who say No to greed, corruption, murder and destruction. In my faith, it is the natural Heart-Energy of the planet Herself, which means that it can only prevail in the longer term. There is no other alternative. In a worst case scenario, if humanity itself were to become extinct, Life would continue to exist here in some form or other. On the other hand, we could ask the Earth’s mothers how they feel about children who are ready to die so that others might live – that Mother-Heart-Energy suggests that there might be a good chance of human survival for such people.

The death-dealers need to realise that the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Julian Assange has little to do with legalities anymore, even if it might appear that way. It is about which path the Heart-Energy takes now. In much the same way as Anonymous is an idea not an individual, so what is occurring around Assange and Manning is an emotion triggered by an absence of honest truth – the instinct to do what is in harmony with the planet. Death-dealers may think they can ‘take out’ these individuals, but you can’t kill the Spirit and every time you try, the Spirit grows stronger and becomes more powerful. She can’t be evaded or avoided because this Spirit resides in everything we are and everything we see around us. If Julian Assange is being judged for his choices so, too, will you be judged and the consequence of all our collective choices is in manifestation now. I don’t know how this will happen but happen it will because the Assange River has just flowed into the Heart-Spirit Ocean and no human thing will be able halt the tides of change.

As a former prisoner, I would hope that the Supreme Court recognises the justice of Assange’s appeal because I would not wish the alternative upon the man who has done so much to contribute to the Spirit of Freedom. Nevertheless, we are in the archetypal dimensions and they have little regard for the desires of the individual ego. Planetary energies are involved and the tsunamis of global change are crashing down upon us all. This is simply the crossroads.

 

So, with all this now said, I think it’s time for me to go and find out which path the Court has decided we, as a people, are taking towards our future.