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.

After being told that I could access offending behaviour courses at last I wrote to the Parole Board and agreed to forego my parole in order to complete this work first and then, as soon as I did that, the psychologists returned and said that they can’t let me do the course after all because it clashes with my forthcoming trial. It didn’t matter that I had told her about the date of the trial before she ever offered me a place on the course, they had now changed their minds, and that wasn’t the worst of it. She said that the soonest they can offer me a place on the course is now going to be next May, which means that the post course report may not even be finished in time for my next parole hearing, rendering that one pointless too!

I argued the case with the psychologists, explaining that the whole point of rehabilitation is to help me to identify areas of risk as well as strategies to mitigate that risk and then to test those strategies under controlled conditions prior to release. Whilst it is true that completing in depth psychological treatment at the same time as a trial may be stressful, there is nothing we can do about the fact that, at some point, I will experience stressful situations. And although we could avoid this particular stressful situation, it would be far better for my rehabilitation if we embraced it, put strategies in place to help me get through it in advance, and then monitored both the strategies and myself generally to examine whether those strategies work (indicating that I have addressed a potential area of risk) or not (indicating that I need to do further work in this area). I also argued that they say they have an ethical duty to not put me under undue stress but, having looked at the British Psychological Society’s code of conduct and ethics there is no such ethical duty at all. On the other hand, they do have an ethical duty of giving me the chance of self determination. Since I am aware of their concerns and any taking steps to try to address those, I would have thought that meant that my insistence that I am able to cope with both the course and the trial at the same time would be taken on board. My final argument was that although they were saying I could not do the course in order to avoid undue stress, that decision in itself had left my future uncertain which is actually more stressful, not less.

They considered these arguments and concluded that they were, right in the first place. Surprise, surprise. You know, I have never in my life met a single psychologist who has ever admitted to being wrong about anything. Not ever.

However, I am trying to look on the positive side of all this. I have done everything in my power to get access to the right courses and I have done the most responsible thing I possibly could by foregoing my parole in favour of the opportunity to do a course. When my next parole hearing does take place I will be putting the paperwork I have gathered in front of the panel and I believe I will have a strong argument for a progressive move on the basis that I have undertaken all available work at this prison without being offered a transfer. If they let me do the course here then great, but if not, then I will simply ask the parole board to grant me a move to an open prison on the grounds that I am being offered nothing to address my rehabilitation in closed conditions.

My only lament is that it should not be this hard!

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