In my last post I wrote about a whole heap of trouble I got myself into and and how this came to light. Here’s what happened next.
Whilst waiting for my adjudication to take place I was informed by a prison officer that, no matter what I say in the hearings, the Governor planned to find me guilty, to give me the maximum 21 days in segregation as punishment, and at the end of this they would find an excuse to put me on report again so that I’d have to do another 21 days on top. He also said that I’d be spending Christmas and New Year in segregation. There was (and is) no proof that this is true. He may well have been talking rubbish, but I believed him. It could be that he was telling the truth, it could be that he was just winding me up or trying to make me think about what I’d done and regret it even more than I already did, or it could be that he was misled himself. Who knows? But none of that’s important. The fact that I have previously been assaulted whilst in segregation and then accused of assault myself to cover their tracks meant that I was instantly worried that they might be planning to do the same thing again, and there was nothing I could do about it.
When the adjudication did come around I made a few points about the fact that the correct procedures had not been followed in the case and that this had prejudiced my ability to make representations, but I didn’t pretend for one second to be innocent and nor did I put in a defence against the charge. In response the governor decided to adjourn the adjudication to “look into the points” I had made.
Then, 21 days before new year’s day (which I’m sure was just a coincidence) the adjudication was recalled and, after dismissing all of my points one by one, the governor adjourned for two more days for recordings to be provided before finding me guilty and segregating me with loss of all privileges until (you guessed it) January 1st. However, he also gave me 70 days loss of pay. In all of my sentence I have never heard of anyone ever getting such a length of time with no pay.
It was at this point that one of the officers in the segregation unit told me to appeal. He didn’t go into detail but he emphasised to me that it was really important that I do. I could have been wrong but I inferred from his comment that what the previous officer had said about the plan to stitch me up and find an excuse to place me on report again was true and in the pipeline. The only thing I could possibly do to prevent it would be to get out of segregation as soon as possible. So I took the officer’s advice and wrote out my appeal with all the same points I had put before the governor.
On 23rd December the officers came to my cell and told me I was going back to the wing. I didn’t think my appeal was back yet so I put aside my doubts and believed them when they said that I was being allowed to return to the wing early as a “Christmas present”. However, when I did get back to the wing I was called into the office by the wing S.0. (Senior Officer) and she gave me the news: “I’ve had a call from admin,” she said. “Your appeal has been considered, and your adjudication is quashed.”
I still don’t know if the officer who told me what they were planning in segregation was telling the truth, or what the truth behind my return to the wing was, but I did receive written confirmation that the finding of guilt “will be removed from the record”. Yet, this doesn’t sit particularly well with me. On the one hand I am guilty and never pretended not to be. It feels unjust that the adjudication was quashed on a mere technicality. On the other hand, it was quashed because the prison hadn’t followed the correct procedures. These procedures are in place to ensure that innocent people who find themselves wrongfully accused are able to defend themselves in order to be found not guilty. If the prison is routinely permitted to ignore the correct procedures and prejudice the ability of accused prisoners to defend themselves, innocent people will undoubtedly be found guilty as well as guilty ones. Yes, I broke the rules and am guilty, and the prison broke the rules too which is why the adjudication was quashed. But their breaking of the rules doesn’t negate my breaking of the rules. It is a literal demonstration of two wrongs not making a right. It seems like there is no right answer on this one. Whether the adjudication had stood or been quashed, either way it would feel like an injustice.
However, there is one silver lining here. It doesn’t matter whether the adjudication stood or was quashed. I know I did the wrong thing. I see now that although I only wanted to reduce the cost of my-calls, the system I put in place could have enabled others to say and do anything they wanted via their unmonitored telephone access and this could have had potentially devastating consequences. I also see now that what I did resulted in an investigation where, in all likelihood, the governor of this prison will have had to explain how something like this could have been allowed to happen in a high security prison on his watch. This may well have jeopardised how much support is offered to him in what I believe to be his genuine plans to change this prison for the better. And all of that means that what I did was simply not right and not worth it. True, I should have thought about this earlier, but the result of an adjudication doesn’t change the fact that I have realised this and that I will never repeat the mistake. That’s far more important than the outcome of a single adjudication.