PRISON BLOG 8
Being in prison has turned out to be a bit of a hassle. It’s frightfully annoying. Yes, detainment in a compound where everyone seems to relish the re-telling of their most violent irresponsible episodes could be seen as a refreshing break from the middle class drudgery of office politics, café brunches and interest rates, but what I would give to see something other than dried mashed potato and cabbage seemingly every night for tea. Whinging fucking Aucklanders! It’s Don Brash’s culinary heaven all right, but I’m missing eggs, pornography, etc.
The point of imprisonment is to frustrate the prisoner – to cause mental anguish. Outwardly this may appear to be putting the prisoner into a small room for many hours and having people to visit only once or twice a week for a couple of hours along with a deliberately boring regime of food, activities and limiting communication to the “outside”. Now that is what society’s all over the world would expect from their prison system. However the mental anguish (putting aside the obvious question of the appropriateness of this to achieve “rehabilitation”, reintegration and reform) is facilitated and aggravated at far more levels than it appears from the outside.
The internal procedures of the prison – the mechanisms used – supposedly to help prisoners are operated to achieve maximum inconvenience. I’m not even sure they are even to make it easier for the staff. The management seem highly suspicious of technology and this probably is due to their lack of education, and accounts for there being only the lowest entry-level computer courses on out-dated machines available to help prisoners.
Everything seems to need forms, in advance, that will then go missing, along with the thing it pertains to. The information to make sense of prison life is never given – it must be extracted by the prisoner over weeks or months bit by bit as each crisis arises. And even when something is stated in black and white on a noticeboard it can be countermanded by management – this, of course, is not explained- the prisoner will not be informed a request has been denied. The staff want to do their own lags as easily as possible. Ringing your own lawyer is almost impossible. Got a painful back problem and currently on medication – “welcome to prison life” says the prison nurse to one prisoner and she withholds his pain relief! On top of all the specific anxiety and frustration is the fact that the prisoner can be moved, without notice, immediately to any other unit or prison – all the social ties over many months (all the deals and credit and debts owing) are all wiped away without any goodbye and without warning.
For example I received a notice from two improbably friendly police officers who issued me with a compulsory DNA sample notice. It was going to happen in a month, “or we could do it now if you want”. Yeah right. Make sure you smear it on some really heinous crime scene, Arthur Allan Thomas style, while you’re at it mate. So I have to ask for a hearing before then based on the fact I can’t find any evidence that I was ever convicted of the crime they say warrants it. The notice says which part of the Act is applicable but not what it actually says – so I’m not even sure the stated crime is applicable. It might just be some cop trying to make his DNA sample quota for the quarter or something more nefarious. The problem is management refuses to let me ring the cop who authorized it to find out whether it’s legit or not. I’m supposed to wait until the police come to take the sample (mouth swab) and then object and it will go to court. I explained that if I leave it till then it becomes an offense (refusal to give a sample is 3 months prison/$2000 fine) and he just shrugs.
Anyway I have contacted my lawyers (they rang me) and hopefully it can be sorted out. The DNA sample is being ordered because of conviction for “Conspiracy to commit criminal damage”. That might be on the Police data base – it isn’t on the Correction Department – because I have since seen the file and I saw the original Warrant of Commitment to Prison, signed by the judge which lists two sedition convictions and no conspiracy criminal damage conviction. I know she was harsh and potentially evil, but I didn’t know she was stupid and negligent. I mean she had the Lyn of Tawa suburban housewife accent from hell but I gave her a bit more credit than to fuck up the conviction that I actually pleaded guilty to.
The systems are totally fucked aren’t they? I received a fines notice from the Justice Ministry too – wanting $2,253 in reparation for “Publish Seditious Material”. Welcome to Singapore. If you are new to this blog I’m in prison for (amongst other things – one of which apparently isn’t conspiracy criminal damage) Sedition. Being the editor of Tumeke! it is, naturally frustrating.
There are so many issues I would like to comment on, such as the Treaty of Waitangi 1992 statute of limitations bill that closed for public submissions last Friday. Why don’t they make all crimes null and void if done before 1992? Why is it that the Crown wants to exempt itself from the scrutiny of its own crimes? They can’t handle the truth – it’s called Sedition.