Friday, 2 November 2012

How the ordinary can be extraordinary

What a fantastic day I have had.

The last blog post I made mentioned Ben Gunn's blog, which I try to read regularly. You can find this at and I would encourage everyone to go and take a look.

Today, I was in Winchester on business, when I got a message - from Ben himself. It appears he occasionally reads this blog (a surprise in itself) and wondered if I cared to meet in a neutral location for coffee.

As Lisa was with me (that's why I was in Winchester, she was appearing this morning) I wrote back asking for a location, and threw the address into the crap-nav.

After a couple of hours drive, I met Ben in a coffee shop not too far from Shepton Mallet prison, and we had a really good discussion. And oh boy, was it good.

Ben Gunn is, in some prisons, a legend. Some think him a fool, some think him a hero, but there are very few prisoners who do not know his name. As a result  I will admit to being a little awestruck that Ben wanted to meet me, and wasn't sure what to do or say. Lisa broke the ice, and then conversation just flowed. There were several frank exchanges of views about our respective offending; Ben is very open about his own past.

In respect for Ben's privacy and anything he might want to say on his own blog or elsewhere I won't discuss our conversations, but a few things became very clear.

1) Ben is not even close to the monster that many have tried (and failed) to paint him.

2) For a man that spend over 30 years in prison on a 10 year tariff, he is an educated, intelligent man who should be listened to by those who claim to be "in power" over prisoners and the Criminal Justice System.

3) There is no way that he should have spent over 30 years in prison for an unplanned killing , where Jon Venables spent 8 for a carefully planned and executed joint enterprise.

It is also clear that while his experiences of custody have shaped him, they have not tainted the man, unlike mine.

Lisa and I both left with a changed view of the man - changed for the better. Having had the genuine privilege of meeting Ben Gunn, I hope that in the future I can consider him to be among the very few real friends I have.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

How hard is it to blog?

I check Ben Gunn's blog almost daily, and try to catch his posts every evening.

Yet despite this, I don't find the time to write my own posts - this is, I think, my fourth this year.

The reason for this is simple - my life is not nearly as complex post-conviction as it was predicted to be. I have a home, a car, a job, a passport. I can travel if I choose, and within reason can do anything I was able to before conviction.

More importantly, my local community do not have an issue with me, my local police are no longer harassing me, and I am simply getting on with my life.

So, dear reader, I need to know - are you interested in the minutiae of that life, or do you only want to know about the "big things" that happen for me?

Please let me know by commenting, and I will look towards a revitalised blog incorporating your thoughts over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Who is sexualising our youth?

I have read a lot recently, about how the youth of today are being sexualised by the media, the internet, Paedophiles (sic) and many other external sources.

Indeed, if you were to believe the Daily Mail, that bastion of truth and decency*, you would think that 99% of Internet users are child molesters out to groom your daughter and rape her before she reaches 10 years of age. But actually, even now, more than 70% of sexual offending against children** is perpetrated by someone known to the victim, such as a friend or family member. How many teenage boys are raping their 15 yr old girlfriends, as a matter of law?

 So lets consider, shall we, where the "sexualisation of the young" claimed by the papers comes from.

Well firstly, as we are talking about newspapers, what about the Sun and the Star, where teenage breasts can be found day in and day out? Let us not forget that the Sun published the first pictured of Sam Fox the day of her 16th birthday - they must therefore have been taken when she was 15.

 To be honest, I think that the hypocrisy of the papers is not unusual, but the media doesn't have as much influence as is claimed. And I'd like to exemplify this by considering my bus journey home from work today. At the Bus Station, a couple got on with two children. The couple must have been in their 50s or 60s, and the children were clearly pre-teen, and apparently not related. Throughout the journey, the older pair were teasing the younger pair about their "relationship" asking if they were boyfriend/girlfriend. A pre-teen boy and girl...?

When I was 13, I was first asked by my father why I didn't have a girlfriend, and was I queer or something. By that time, some of the boys in my year group were claiming, in their indecisively toned voices, to have popped the cherry of girls in the same year, or even in the year below. Not only that but some of the girls in the year were already dating year 11 or higher boys. Indeed, when I was in year 12 and 13 (then called the Sixth Form), I was dating a Year 9/10 (forth form) girl, and no eyebrows were raised by either my or her parents - her father gave me a packet of condoms, this being in the heady days of the early to mid 80's, with "ADIS - Don't Die of Dyslexia" adverts on every billboard.

Lets examine Teen Chatrooms. In these places, teens talk to teens about sex, pretty much exclusively. They swap stories, boasts, images, sometimes videos. "Sexting" is rife. By 13, most teens hormones are boiling over, and they need to find some sexual release, whether that be alone, with another, in chatroom, watching porn, whatever rings their bell. It's a miracle that so many get to sixteen without having had their "first time"

And as a result, the majority of teenagers conversations in private are sexual.

I have therefore come to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that what is causing the sexualisation of our 12-17 year olds is, primarily, our 12-17 year olds; this is how life has been since even before we could speak and conceptualize the phrase "voulez vous couchet avec moi?".

Sleep well.

* This was the Daily Mail's front page, the day that Amanda Knox was freed from Jail.

** For the definition of a child, you need to look at several different pieces of legislation.
The Children  and Young Persons Act 1933 defines a child as a person under 14
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines a child as someone under 16 (for consent purposes)
In the Criminal Justice System you are treated as an adult for sentencing at 17, but not put into an Adult
Prison until 21. 18-21 year old's normally go to YOI, and 17 year old's would be put into secure accommodation.
The Protection of Children Act 1978 defines a child as Under 18.
For Child Benefit you parent can still be in receipt while you are at college until you are 19.

And don't forget, ignorance of the law is no defence...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The licence thou gavest, Lord, is ended

As of midnight I become (or perhaps became by the time I post) a Free Man. Not merely a Prisoner on Licence, but really, truly free.

My last Probation appointment was late last night, and my (fifth) Probation Officer signed me off, reminding me not to breach today as "You can still get recalled" - yeah, no I cant.

So, I am now free, completely square with the house, no longer a Sex Offender but now an Ex Offender. And I await a sentencing hearing at a nearby Crown Court for an Anne Handschue*, who is about to go down for Perverting the Course of Justice, having been found guilty 3 weeks ago.

I am now, therefore appealing, on the basis of her convictions, and relying on Lisa's* comments and new statement as the "new evidence" for the CCRC.

Work goes well, with a payrise at the end of last month, but the Audi failed its MOT on Steering faults, which may cost too much to fix. However, we'll see over the next few days as I try to fix it.

So, the briefest of updates, and I can now officially tell Northants police and Probation to stick their monitoring and MAPPA where the sun shineth not. Enjoy your weekend, I plan to...

*As ever the Blog may be a concatenation of events, and names may be changed to protect both the innocent - and the Guilty.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Done the Crime, done the time

When I was younger, I read "The Green Mile" as a serialized novel. Later I watched the exceptionally good Film adaptation.

One of the things I remember distinctly about both the book and the film is the concept that when the man has been put to death, that's it. He's square with the house, his debt is paid, and he is treated with respect and even reverence.

What a pity that doesn't seem to apply in the UK.

Now, the law in the UK is that you get sentenced according to your offence, and then (except in very specific circumstances) you get automatically released after served 1/2 of your sentence. You then remain "on licence" until your sentence end date, the basis being that controlled release and rehabilitation is more effective than retribution and punishment of the loss of your liberty. Moreover, as occurred to me, you can be recalled if your Offender Manager believes you are a further risk.

So therefore, unless you do something else wrong, when you get released, you've done your time, in terms of prison. Even though you have probation time to do, you are square with the big house.

Yet suddenly, this week, I find that after nearly a year from re-release and within sight of the end of my licence, a company I have had some dealings with wants to try to make my status public to help them win a court case. Apparently Offenders on licence have no rights, and certainly shouldn't expect to be allowed phone lines, internet service, cars, insurance or even housing.

Now, as my gentle reader will know, (sorry Isaac) I am currently appealing in any case, and so anything done by an individual relying on my conviction is on shaky ground. So why then, does this company think it, and only it, is the arbiter of who can tell my neighbours etc about my offending?

And, guess what Northans MAPPA are doing about it? You're right, sweet feck-all.

Ah well, might be time to move.