There is a Clint Eastwood film called Escape from Alcatraz that many prisoners can relate to. A few scenes stand out to me…
The Warden, not liking the artwork from a prisoner, gives the order that his painting privileges be removed. The Deputy Warden, who receives the order, questions what he should tell the prisoner is the reason for this and is told he is the Deputy Warden so make something up.
As the prisoner has his paintings and materials removed from his cell, he says in a very hurt tone ‘but paintings are all I have’. The prisoner is then unable to cope and chops off his fingers at the first opportunity.
The film, which was made in 1979, is a prime illustration of the detrimental impact of the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme. Prisoners throughout England are subjected to this level of control, but none more so than those in the Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) which are this country’s Supermaxs. In the CSCs most privileges are removed and human rights along with them. Apparently it is a privilege to do such things as shower in privacy or out of the sight of female staff, or to receive confidential medical treatment, which CSC prisoners are no longer entitled to.
The new restrictions I face are a ban on my mother’s phone number and home number and the need to book all phone calls in advance and have every call subject to line monitoring, including legal calls. The reason the ‘Deputy Warden’ gave me is that I ‘may’ have contravened the regulations around the use of the telephone. Upon complaint, I am told a bit more – prisoners are not permitted to use the telephone for the disclosure of information intended for publication which may identify staff.
So now on top of the fact that I have hardly any time out of my cell I now struggle to maintain ties with family and legal advisers. With all this spare time do you think I will expose more or less corruption?
Also, thank you to anyone who has written to me. It has been greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, the Deputy Warden has been returning my mail to sender, claiming I am no longer located here or just failing to post my response. So if you haven’t heard back from me, please write again. I do respond to all my mail.