Return of the Virtual Nomad

virtual nomad sticky

Well, now that I am back on the wing and back in the gym, I am also free to continue with my Travels of a Virtual Nomad.  However, there has been a slight change.

As many of you will be aware, my intention was to run, ride and row in the prison gym, following a virtual route around the country and beyond whilst keeping a diary on this site of where I would be if I were free to follow the route in real life.  The sponsorship was intended to go to the absolutely fantastic charity, Not Shut Up who help prisoners all around the country with their involvement in the arts, and who deserve far more recognition for their efforts.  However, due to technical difficulties at my end (and completely beyond the control of Not Shut Up ) it has not been possible to facilitate this.  So instead I have had to change my recipient charity to the equally deserving Koestler Trust.

The Koestler Trust work tirelessly to hold an annual competition in which prisoners are awarded recognition of their work in the form of certificates and prizes.  They also run a scheme in which those prisoners who show a particular commitment to the arts are given the opportunity to work with a Koestler mentor.

This work is priceless to prisoners who might otherwise have no outlet for their talents and I would ask all of you to follow and sponsor my journey for the benefit of The Koestler Trust‘s work and of the artistic interests of prisoners up and down the country.

But I would also like to ask you to visit the site of Not Shut Up, too.  They are hugely deserving of any donation you might feel able to give, and go to great lengths to encourage prisoners (including myself) with our involvement in the arts.  Please give them the recognition they deserve and donate whatever you can.

 

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Alternatives to Violence

I have a bit of good news. After about two months in segregation, they have moved me back to the wings. To a cell on the top floor of the wing in fact. From the dungeon to the penthouse suite!

I don’t know yet whether that whole situation is all over and dealt with, or if there are still things going on behind the scenes. But at least I’m not in solitary any more.

The whole process (witnessing the fight and then everything that followed) has made me think though. I’m fed up of the violence in these places. I’ve been inside for twelve years and I’ve seen everything from handbags at dawn to the decapitation and disembowelment of another prisoner. Sure, I’ve had a few fights myself too. I’m by no means a pacifist and I do believe that everyone has the right to defend themselves – you don’t just curl up and take a kicking. But I never start a fight and will do anything I can to avoid one starting if it’s at all possible. I’m just sick of how easily some people here seem to resort to violence. And that goes as equally for staff as it does for prisoners. I’m sick of witnessing it. I’m sick of having to deal with it myself, and I’m sick of people assuming that, as a prisoner, I must be the same.

So I’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic group who try to combat exactly that.

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State Sanctioned Slavery

I just saw a piece on Channel Four News about the rates of pay awarded to detainees in Immigration Removal Centres.

These are people who are being held either whilst their applications for leave to stay in Britain are considered or whilst they are awaiting deportation. They are not prisoners, but they are held in very similar conditions and circumstances and, whilst held, the only source of income available to them is to work for the establishments holding them for far below the minimum wage.

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Facts from the Hard Drive Part 2

In one of my previous posts I wrote about how reports that are compiled by prison and probation staff regarding prisoners often contain highly misleading and potentially damaging content. Invariably the author claims that content to be factual either because they read it in a previous report on their computer (which must make it true) or simply because they believe that they can say what they like and get away with it. Well, having recently received the latest wave in reports written for my forthcoming parole hearing, I am going to start sharing a few examples of the so called “facts” written about me over the years.

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Progress of a Virtual Nomad – Haworth

I’m now 61 miles into my virtual journey and am in Haworth. Check out my Nomad section to find out why!

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Time for Change

For years Wakefield prison has been home to the phrase: “It’s the Wakefield Way”, uttered by prisoners and staff alike whenever a completely irrational decision is questioned. There has been no effort towards change and no desire or appetite for it either. Until now.

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The Grand Menagerie

For a long time now I have thought that prisoners tend to have massive double standards. The amount of people who own, or have previously owned budgies is truly amazing. But what is even more shocking is the number of prisoners who admit to having caught or kept such things as flies, spiders, or cockroaches as a pet in a small box. Yet simultaneously, the same people will moan endlessly about the brutality of caging a person in such a confined space day after day. It is their boredom and lack of liberty that makes them want a pet in the first place. But aren’t they just doing the same thing to the animal?

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Common Sense Alert! 10

Recently the regime here at Wakefield has changed somewhat. Now each wing is kept off work for one afternoon a week and given association time instead, so that they can be left locked up during the evening. The reason given for this is that the prison, like many others now, is drastically short staffed.

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Prison Dramas

There have been a lot of television dramas about prison over the years, and a fair few comedies too. From Prisoner Cell Block H and its successor Wentworth Prison in Australia, to Oz, Prison Break, and Orange is the New Black in the States, and Bad Girls, Prisoner’s Wives, The Visit, and of course, Porridge here in the UK, it seems like the public can’t get enough of Prison Drama.

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