Rilke’s Mirrors

Rilke combo

I’ve written before about how Rilke is my favourite poet and his Duino Elegies are massively powerful pieces of work which I find captivating every time I read them. This picture was directly inspired by the elegies and the writing that makes up the contours of the face is taken directly from them. The elegies themselves have a very reflective tone and even their subject matter echoes this. What better way to express them then than as a depiction of Rilke’s own face? His words are his light and his shade. They are the manifestation and the shape of his expression. His words are his mirrors. He poured out his words, but his face gathers them back to himself.

To view a high resolution version of this image, click here or you can access it through my gallery page.

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One Nation, Two Laws

You may have seen that publicly publishing explicit photographs of someone without their consent has now been made illegal under laws to combat revenge porn. What you might not have considered is how this will effect those publications that print explicit photographs of celebrities taken by paparazzi.

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Looking Back on July

Back in April I wrote about the fact that, after years of denying me access to offending behaviour courses, I finally seem to have been brought in from the cold and had been told I can do the courses I need to.

Well, since then I’ve had further conversations with the psychologist concerned and although I was meant to have been able to start the course this month, I didn’t.

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Prisoner Number Six

“I’m not a number, I’m a free man!”

In the sixties TV series The Prisoner, Prisoner Number Six said these words during the title sequence. They are words which resonate with almost every prisoner around the world and they inspired me to write this poem, quoting the line in every couplet but turning it around into a positive affirmation of identity.

It’s a poem I like to read back to myself every so often (when I remember) to remind myself that nothing and no one can take away the freedom of my imagination and creative drive.

You can read the full poem here.

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Criminalising Mental Illness

Prisoners-with-mental-disI’ve never been able to get over how many people with serious mental illnesses are locked up in British prisons and even the most basic of treatment can be hard to get access to at the best of times. I myself have approached mental health services at various times during my sentence in anticipation of a declining mood, rising depression, and occasionally even in thoughts of self harm and suicide. The help that is given is extremely limited unless and until you are actively self harming, and even then it is often no more than a tick box process.

However, recently I was sent a very interesting graphic illustrating how bad this situation is in the United States. If its possible, I think it may be even worse over there than it is here. Mentally ill prisoners now amount to nearly 20% of the prison population and there are more than ten times as many mentally ill people in prison than in mental hospitals.

The graphic is truly shocking and I strongly recommend that if you take a look at it, try and see past the statistics and imagine what life is like for each of the 365,000 mentally ill people stuck in American prisons.

The full graphic can be viewed here.

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Incentives and Earned Privileges (Part Three)

Having looked at the differences between the different regime levels and how a prisoner can be moved between them, today I’ll focus on how you can appeal against an unfavourable decision, what that means for the prisoner, and how the whole scheme can affect a prisoner who maintains their innocence.

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Incentives and Earned Privileges (Part Two)

After taking a look at the differences between the different regime levels yesterday, today I’ll be focusing on how prisoners rise and fall from one level to another.

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Incentives and Earned Privileges (Part One)

The incentives and earned privileges scheme was introduced in Britain in 1995 to encourage prisoners to demonstrate good behaviour and full engagement with the prison regime. It has been revised many times, to a greater or lesser extent, over the years and, most recently, there was a major overhaul of the scheme in 2013 which led to wide scale complaints and the now famous legal challenge to the prohibition against prisoners having books sent in from friends and family. That campaign was successful and the prison service instruction has been amended, but the intricacies of the system are still largely unknown to most of the population. Over the next few days I will try to break down the rules in this PSI focusing today on what the differences between the various levels are.

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