May 2015

16th – 31st May 2015

Hello friend,

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances;
If there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
(Carl Gustav Jung)

Hey, what do you know – a statement by a psychologist I actually agree with? Of course, this was in the days when it hadn’t become the cult of personality it is nowadays. Although, given their obsessions in here, I suspect they are more Freudian’s than Jungists.

So, I’ve been ill again. Another chest cold ( not ‘flu’ – it’s ever flu, it’s always the common cold ). Have I been pushing myself too hard?

Prison Journals

The High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative has made the following order on my Judicial Review ( JR ) application:

“1. Permission to apply for judicial review is refused.
2. No order as to costs.”

The reasons given are that:

“[ … ] the journals have been returned to HMP Wakefield and he is able,
upon application, to have them placed in his possession. In those
circumstances, the claim for judicial review is academic [ … ]”

Okay, fine no problem. However, the judge gave no reasons why no costs were awarded. He does have discretion to order costs if the defendant ( Secretary of State for Justice ) has not followed the pre-action protocol ( which they didn’t – I received no reply to my letter before claim ( LBC ) or any reply from the MoJ to my LBC in the other 2 current cases for that matter ). In fact, I’ve never known the MoJ or the SoS to be penalised in costs for not following the pre-action protocol. Had they replied to my LBC informing me that they were conceding the case I wouldn’t have spent 40 hours and £28.01 ( photocopying and postage – 2 weeks wages ) preparing the application and the 120 page court bundle; just to secure my property which Security at HMP Frankland had unlawfully withheld for over 3 years. I’ve filed an application to the court requesting costs in the case.

Music Files

The MoJ didn’t reply to my pre- action letter of claim so I filed my claim with the court. Just to remind you, HMP Frankland destroyed 6 years of work ( 5000 hours ) worth of original songs which I had recorded. This case is all about interpretation of a section in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Specifically, the definition of producer at S.178 of the 1988 Act:

“In relation to a sound recording [ … ] the person by whom the arrangements
necessary for the making of the sound recording [… ] are undertaken.”

Previously, the MoJ’s position has been that they made the arrangements by providing the computers, session and supervision for the session. It remains to be seen whether or not this flimsy point will end up in their defence.

Blog Problems

So, I submitted a complaint which was essentially a repeat of the two unanswered questions from my application:

“1. which word/s are derogatory; and,
“2. why the word/s are not compliant with PSI 49/2011.”

Security’s reply:

“[ … ] There is one issue/section of your transcript which could be viewed
as defamatory ( highlighted in blue ) and as such should be removed.

Also the section where you claim the Security manager at HMP Frankland
was the boyfriend of the Education Manager. Unless you can support this
claim with evidence, this again could be deemed as defamatory and should
be removed [ … ].”

The 2 section they highlighted were;

“These negative and inaccurate entries could just be a matter of
incompetence or ( in the case of the HMP Frankland issues ) be driven
by more pernicious motives. It’s very easy for a dishonest member of staff
with a grudge to make a false allegation against a prisoner, be automatically
believed because of their position of trust, and be protected from any
legitimate challenge by redacting their allegations. It’s like trying to fight
thin air.”

and,

“I wrote about this issue in my November blog. My intention was to
Judicially Review ( JR ) the decision of HMP Frankland’s security
manager ( the boyfriend of the education manager – see my previous blogs
on this ), and therefore the Secretary of State for Justice, for refusing to
return the 2 journals to my possession.”

You tell me – anything in there that’s ‘derogatory’ or ‘defamatory’? There is certainly nothing in there that breaches PSI 49/2011. I’ll go into more detail on that when I get a reply to the 2nd stage to this complaint, which has already been submitted.

Coincidentally, the security officer who replied to my application was on the wing
( short-staffed again ), so I spoke to her about this issue. She was very evasive when I asked her why she hadn’t highlighted what was ’derogatory’ or explained why any of the content breached PSI 49/2011. Apparently, the reply was what a Governor told her to write. She got very flustered during the conversation and I could see that I wasn’t going to get any open and honest answers.

Then….an unexpected and intriguing turn of events. I got an interim reply to my stage 2 complaint. It had been issued to the Corruption Prevention Department. I can think of only 3 possibilities for their involvement. Either because of HMP Frankland staff or the Security Department here or a combination of both. I’ll keep you posted.

Education Issue

After starting on the Small Business Model course 3 weeks ago, I went down to Education only to find I wasn’t on the register, despite being on the movements list for this class. I feel a sense of déjà vu. Incompetence is systemic in here so it’s just as likely to be that as anything. I was sent back to the wing. We’ll see what happens next week.

Prison Rule 39

“39. Delivery and receipt of legally privileged material ( 1 ) A prisoner may
[ … ] receive from, the prisoner’s legal advisor [ … ] by post [ … ] any
legally privileged material and such material may only be opened , read or
stopped by the governor in accordance with the provisions of this rule [ … ]”

The Rule does go on to give the Governor authority to open legally privileged mail if he suspects there are any “illicit enclosures” or it contains something which “endangers prison security or the safety of others or are otherwise of a criminal nature”. However, this has to be done in front of the prisoner.

Why tell you this? Because, for the umpteenth time since I have been in prison , I have received a Rule 39 letter which had been opened. The prison censors ( who process the mail ) claimed they had received it opened from the Royal Mail. Really? My understanding is that when a letter gets damaged by the Royal Mail they send it in a plastic bag. This letter was not in a plastic bag. Given everything that is going on at the moment, draw your own conclusions.

Category A reports

Well, yet again psychology has submitted a misleading report. Virtually nothing has been amended from the draft report ( nothing of any importance anyway ). I feel the time has come to submit a ‘ fitness to practice concern ‘ to the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC). My own observations of HMP Wakefield’s psychology department are that there is systemic failings in their report writing which is either rooted in laziness, incompetence or malice. On top of this there also appears to be an arrogance about their questionable abilities and a glibness in their manner. Are my criticisms warranted? Well, I’ve been endeavouring to collate relevant data to assess whether or not they are delivering the results which would justify their
( rather large ) salaries. Stay tuned.

Category A reports ( Security )

So what horrendous activities have I been up to Security?

“ Has contact with serving prisoners. “

Strike 1 ! Not true. I did write to some prisoners at HMP Wakefield in connection with my legal proceedings ( most were witnesses, one was my McKenzie friend ).

“ 19/11/14 – submitted a complaint form which contained inappropriate
comments and malicious accusations against staff.”

Strike 2 ! Not true. The complaint was in reference to my withheld journals and submitted to HMP Frankland’s security department. Here’s the relevant extracts:

“[ … ] The report I received from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
(PPO) quote you as saying that ‘the allegations were initially “ sketchy “
[ … ] The Category A Review Board also admit that the allegations were
‘unproven’ [ … ] can you please confirm if this continues to be the case and
what level of investigation you undertook at the time.

At our meeting I alluded to information of relevance, which at the time I
refused to disclose. You may now be aware that I was referring to the
infatuation that a member of staff had for me, which culminated in her
giving me her email address and whispering that she would get in trouble
if anyone found out. Quite recently, I have been informed by a credible
source that she is a very’ manipulative ‘young woman and that the Education
Manager ‘manipulated ‘ the information you received ( which would explain
why the allegations were initially “sketchy” ). Also, they told me that what
was going on was a “witch hunt.” This is an interesting choice of words, as
you yourself said to me “ you probably think this is a witch hunt” [ … ]”

The Security Senior Officer’s reply:

“[ … ] I must express my concerns in the terminology [ sic ] you have
used in your description of staff members at Frankland and unfounded
malicious accusations you also make. I must inform you that I will report
this matter accordingly [ … ]

This should tell you all you need to know about the imbalance of power in prisons. I report information of staff misconduct and instead of investigating ( as is their legal duty ) they not only seek to cover it up they also take retaliatory action against me for having the temerity to expose this misconduct. The message they send out is that if you try to cause us problems we’ll cause you problems.

Incidentally, my wing report included the following comments:

“[… ] has cooperated with staff on the wing, being polite and respectful with
his interactions [ … ]

Psychology ( presentations)

The Psychology department have been doing a series of presentations in the chapel. There has been 3 so far, of which I have attended the last 2.

It has become apparent that the presentations ( stress, personality ) themselves conceal the real purpose of these events. They have been so shoddily put together in terms of the information ( surface level and patronising ), the speakers ( poor presentation skills and very nervous – as they have all continually highlighted ) and the PowerPoint presentation ( full of grammar and punctuation errors ).

Psychology has an ongoing problem engaging prisoners. Most of them refuse to even meet with psychologists. You can work out one possible reason if you have been reading Psychology threads in my blogs. I can imagine the meeting.

“ Let’s do some blue-sky thinking.”
“ I know, why don’t we put a human face on psychologists and do a series of
presentations. Then they’ll trust us and want to engage.”
“Brilliant ! Let’s run with that.”

So is it working? Having spoken to many of the attending prisoners, my own anecdotal evidence tells me “no”. This charm offensive, for that is what it is , is having the opposite effect on prisoners. Spouting their doctrinal dogmatism ( woe betide anyone who disagrees ) whilst highlighting their own character flaws ( in an effort to humanise themselves and bridge the gap with prisoners ) has only entrenched prisoners’ opinions that psychology are woefully out of touch with their wants and needs ( and don’t even get me started on the subject of the nicotine addicted psychologists puffing away outside their building at every opportunity – stressed out, unable to cope?).

As a trust building exercise this has been a monumental failure. What prisoners want is simple – honesty and professionalism. To see how self- congratulatory they are whilst prisoners’ families are made to wait unnecessarily to be reunited is just offensive.

Bedding

I got a new mattress – hurrah ! We sleep on tubular steel beds with mattresses made from ‘memory’ foam. Unfortunately, this can only be described as short term memory leading to early onset Alzheimers. Very quickly all the support goes and you are left with all manner of aches and pains. At least they now use washable vinyl covered mattresses – the ones when I was at Belmarsh were utterly disgusting. I won’t even describe them … use your imagination.

Music

The Improvement through Music rehearsals continue. We’ve been working on 3-part harmonies for ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’. I really love doing vocal harmonies. When you get it right it takes you to another place. We’ve also started work on an original number one of the guys has written. Instinctively it felt like a modern retro sounding tune in the style of Amy Winehouse but he envisaged it as some sort of Bon Jovi-esque ( poodle ) Rock song. I still have concerns about singing the chorus of the Jamiroquai number. We might even have t-shirts printed in the Print Shop to give us an ‘image’. That’ll be interesting.

The conflict has already started regarding the set list for the summer concert. There is 14 songs but only time to do 8-10. That means some song choices will have to be dropped. The political campaigning has already begun in earnest.

Unfortunately, and predictably as it’s not for the first time, I’m the target for those guys who are not playing on many songs. Because I’ve been playing for 36 years I have a reasonable amount of competence on the guitar. This leads to me being asked to play on other guy’s song choices. When I agree to this I make a commitment to them ( and myself ) to do their song justice. I also throw myself into the whole performance aspect. It can be an exhilarating experience. Sadly, this has led to one or two spiteful comments about me having an ego. I don’t think they even know the meaning of the word. If I had this imagined ego I wouldn’t spend so much of my time helping other people in here ( and not just to do with music ).

Well, it all came to a head as we were having a meeting about the set and one guy accused me of having an ‘an out of control ego’. This was someone whose only song was at risk of being dropped and saw me as the reason why. So I challenged him to explain himself. Then all of latent hostility came out of him. He came out with a load of claims which when challenged couldn’t be supported. I said to him, “you were happy to accept my help when you were on the guitar class”. (Long pause) “Well, no, actually I wasn’t”, “then why did you take it?” ( long pause ) “er, just to make you happy”. Utterly ludicrous !

Some of these guys need to take a long hard look at themselves and their own issues before behaving in such a malicious fashion. I’ve never been to a prison quite like this in terms of this type incidious unpleasantness.

I normally try to end on an upbeat note but that’s not always possible. So no matter, be happy, be safe, see you next time.

Graham Coutts, 5th June 2015

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