Tag Archive | Ben Gunn

Legal Aid Cuts: The Positives

One month on from the introduction of the latest cuts to legal aid, I must be the only prisoner in the system that actually thinks it might be good for prisoners.

For years prison law solicitors have been divided into two camps. Those who are genuinely in the profession because they want to make a difference, and those who only seem to care about the money, and avoid doing any actual work at all costs. The trouble is, prisoners have no way of knowing which are which until it’s too late.

For years I’ve thought that the only real solution is for prisoners to learn how to represent themselves. Prison conditions didn’t improve through the nineties because of solicitors, it was because a large number of prisoners (predominantly convicted IRA members) learnt how to use the system to change the system, and set to work making the world around them that little bit more bearable. Continue reading

Common Sense Alert! 2

When I sent the first posts for this blog to my mum to put up, I had the letter returned to me by the prison censors who said that they couldn’t let me send it because “prisoners aren’t allowed to blog.” I’m sure the likes of Jail House Lawyer, Noel Smith, and (most famously) Ben Gunn who already fought for this right and won, would have something to say about that, but I nevertheless had to go through the normal complaints procedure.

I pointed out that the rules state that prisoners are not allowed access to social networks such as Facebook, but the Prison Service Instructions themselves state that prisoners may publish their writing online as long as they do not receive payment, talk about their own offences or those of others, or identify individual prisoners or members of staff. In their response, the prison service requested the website address so that they could check the site and ensure that I had not posted anything I should not have. Of course, I gave the address immediately, but had to point out that they might have trouble checking the content since it was them who had stopped me sending any content!

Even more strangely, whilst I was still trying to resolve this, my mum sent a few printouts of the site in its construction phase, with “Adam Mac: blogging behind bars” written right across the top of every page. Since, at that point, they were still saying I couldn’t blog, you’d think they’d have stopped this letter from getting to me. But no, I was given it without any argument!

Still, after a second stage complaint and an in depth check of the site (minus any actual content) the prison service relented. They said I could blog after all!

Maybe common sense does prevail sometimes.