August 2015

16th – 31st March 2015

Hello friend

I want to start this blog by thanking my Mother and Father, and my friend Gordon, for posting messages of their support on this site. It does sometimes feel like I’m on my own in all this, so this has reminded me that I’m not. I know there are many others of you out there that feel the same way (yes , news does get back to me). So, if you want to make a really positive contribution and difference to any possible outcome for my case, all you have to do is write a paragraph or two and post to the site.

What is the cost of a wrongful conviction?

Here’s an interesting fact – for the years 2013 – 2014 the cost per prisoners held in an adult male dispersal prison (as I am) , based on overall resource expenditure, was £59,484 (source: National Offender Management Service).

The Bromley Briefings:

“The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is the single largest
area of Ministry of Justice spending. In 2012-13 it’s budget was £4bn,
representing two-fifths of the total departmental budget”.
(Whitehead, S. (2014) Justice for sale – the privatisation of offender
Management services, London: TUC.

“The average annual overall cost of a prison place for the 2012-13 financial
year was £36,808. This includes prison related costs met by the National
Offender Management Service, but excludes expenditure met by other
government departments such as health and education.”
(Table 1, Ministry of Justice (2013) Costs per place and costs per prisoner
by individual prison, National Offender Management Service Annual Report
and Accounts 2012-13: Management Information Addendum, London:
Ministry of Justice ).

So, does that mean the figure of £59,484 is in fact considerably higher with the addition of health and education and other government departmental expenditure?

I’ve been wrongfully convicted. I’ve, so far, spent 12 needless years in prison. You do the math. Don’t forget to include the cost of 2 trials, 2 appeals, and 2 CCRC applications, plus the rest of the 14 years plus should all fail. You as a taxpayer, are paying every day for this injustice and every other wrongful conviction. So what are you going to do?

Psychology (Category a Report)

(See my previous blogs). I got a response to my application from the trainee psychologist. The 2 most relevant parts to this issue:

“[…]
5. The comments I have made that you reference ‘The concerns highlighted
in Mr Coutts’ previous category A review about his identified risk to staff
within the ‘High Secure Estate’ is mainly in relation to the concerns
highlighted from your behaviour at HMP Frankland. I am aware that you
strongly dispute these issues taking place, however it is important that the
evidence is referenced, and considered, when assessing your risk.

[…]

7. In relation to the information you have asked to be confirmed.

a. The risk to staff is concerning your goal orientated behaviour.
There has not been any evidence of you presenting a physical risk
to staff.

[…]

Overall it was a typically evasive response. There were a number of questions she failed to answer. The only positive was her admission (finally) that the word ‘risk’, that she has arbitrarily and liberally bandied about, is not an implication of physical risk (hallelujah). However, as she does not clarify this in her Cat. A report on me, she is misleading the Local Area Panel (LAP) and the Category A Review Team (CART). This will only have negative consequences for me as I will remain a Category A prisoner for yet another year.

I submitted another application to her:

“5. Firstly, regarding ‘risk to staff’ you use the phrase “mainly in relation”.
This implies something other than the issues from HMP Frankland. What are
you not disclosing here, Ms […]

Secondly, exactly what behaviour are you referring to whilst I was at HMP
Frankland and, even if true and 4 years later, why are staff here ’risk’ from
me? ’Risk’ of what exactly?

Thirdly, as you say, it is important that the evidence is referenced and
considered when assessing ’risk’. However, this is not what you have done.
I see no reference to the several witness statements which were made on my
behalf supporting my account. I see no reference to my witness statement
made under oath to the High Court (which notably no member of staff did).
I see no reference to the fact that I received no adjudication or reduction in
IEP level, despite this alleged behaviour. I could go on.

Finally, these are issues from 2011. Your reporting period is the 12 months
prior to your report, not 4 years prior to your report. Not only have you a
procedural error, you have made no reference to the fact that there has been no
reoccurence of this alleged behaviour since I have been at HMP Wakefield.
Is it not important that you reference and consider contradictory and positive
evidence when assessing ‘risk’? Two words, Ms […] – confirmation bias.
[ … ]

7. a. Ms [ … ] , why do you insist on using terminology with no explanation
of what it means or any elaboration on how and why you are applying it to me.

( i ) What exactly do you mean by ‘goal orientated behaviour’?
( ii ) What evidence are you basing your opinion on?
( iii ) Why, in my case, would this alleged behaviour be a negative?
( iv ) Why would this alleged behaviour put staff at ‘risk’ from me?
( v ) Exactly what ’risk’ are staff at from my alleged ’goal orientated behaviour’?

In an effort to shed some light on this issue, I did speak to several wing staff.
They were all highly bemused with your terminology of ’goal orientated
behaviour ‘ and perplexed as to what ‘risk’ they are at from me. Given your
remit of rehabilitation, I would expect you to answer the above question in full,
to assist in my understanding.

[ … ]

Y’know, it’s now been 4 years since the false allegations from HMP Frankland were made against me. It is not an exaggeration to say that this has poisoned every aspect of my quality of prison life and possibility of progression. It’s been a bit like chickweed, which you may know has pretty little flowers, so look benign, but is in reality an insidious weed which, once taken root, becomes near impossible to eradicate. If left unchecked, it wiill consume your entire life.

I’ll let you know just how evasive her next response is.

Scrabble club

( See my previous blogs ). I got the reply to my application back from Security:

“[ … ] I have looked into this matter for you and Security authorise for you to
attend Scrabble club on a Friday morning.”

However, a couple of days later I got a reply to the unanswered application I had submitted to Security over a month ago. This reply was from the department called Reducing Reoffending. In reply to my request to “confirm what security reasons prohibits my attendance at the Scrabble club and your rationale behind this”, they state.

“I have spoken to Security who advised issues related to when you [were] at
your previous establishment but could not divulge to me why. However,
Security and Library have no issues here you attending Scrabble. Your name
will be placed on Activity Board to approve next week”.

Well, firstly they reference the reason for my first application for Scrabble club being rejected as ‘issues’ from my previous establishment ( HMP Frankland ) – a prison I left more than 3 years ago ( you get less for housebreaking ). Secondly, what has this got to do with Scrabble? Thirdly, if these were legitimate security reasons for declining my application, why are these reasons no longer legitimate? Finally, and most farcial, Security cleared me for Scrabble club in 2012, when these ‘issues’ were far more current. Yet, 3 years later Security use it as a reason to stop me having a game of Scrabble.

There is a pattern of behaviour emerging here ( see my previous blogs ). I can’t help but smile at what some people may see as an arbitrary, oppressive and unlawful use of power.

Heart Attack

( See my previous blogs ). Wow, I actually got a written apology from the Deputy Governor ( although, the PPO recommendation was for the No1 Governor to mke the apology – oh well, I’ll take it nonetheless ):

“ I recognise that your move to Pinderfields General Hospital (PGH)
should have been done in a more timely manner and offer my apologies
for the delay in changing you into sterile prison clothing prior to your move
to hospital.”

There is an ingrained culture of denial within the prisom service ( as the response from Oscar 1 to tho PPO demonstrates ). So this is a rarity but welcomed nonetheless.

Print Shop

The prison want to turn all of the workshops into small businessess. So, we had a meeting to discuss this and throw around a few ideas. The reason we had the time to spend all morning having this meeting was that all of the computers weren’t working. So that’s another shut down.

I’ve no idea how long this will last as there has been 3 broken computers in there for months that have not been fixed. I imagine it will be for several more weeks. Being locked in a cell all day is not a barrel of laughs but it’s even worse during the hot periods we’re coming up to.

I’m not sure how they can run a competitive business when it takes so long to sort IT problems. I’m really not sure why it takes so long.

Epidemic

I picked up another cold. That’s 2 in 2 months. It’s gotten so out of control in here that they are actually ‘quarantining’ risoners behind their doors! Oh, the humanity.

Eclipse – really?

So what did you think about the partial eclipse? There I was, with a home-made ‘eclipse viewer’ ( which was nothing more than a pinhole in a piece of paper ) blinding myself every 5 minutes or so.

Like the 1999 one, which I remember so clearly watching from home. It was a little bit of an anti-climax. Boy, it takes sooo long! I was getting impatient with the moon. I suspect the full eclipse is the only one worth spending time on.

“JOURNALIST: Mr Gandhi, what do think of modern civilisation?
GANDHI: That would be a good idea [ boom, boom]”
You should hear his mother-in-law jokes.

Gandhi

I see a statue of Mahatma Gandhi is being erected in London. What an incredible human being he was. He freed an entire sub-continent from years of imperial rule through non-violent means ( or non-cooperation as he called it ). The courage of the man is inspiring. He is a bit of a hero of mine and a bit of a comedian.

Visit

I had a visit from my Mother. Despite being in her seventies ( sorry Mum )., she still makes the 13 hour round trip every other month, just for about 1 ½ hours of visiting time. My Father is just too ill to make that trip any more and hasn’t seen me for about 3 years. I want to bookend this blog with how I started it – thank you my wonderful parents for your love and support all my life and in particular the past 12 years. You are both heroes to me.

Be happy, be safe, see you next time.

Graham Coutts, 5th April 2015

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