Another Attempt To Sabotage John Bowden’s Parole By Prison Hired Social Worker March 2012
The changed role of probation officers, and in Scotland social workers, from ‘client centered’ liberal professionals into ‘criminal justice workers’ focused essentially on ‘public protection’ and ‘managing risk’ has in many cases led to serious abuses of power as what were once considered vocations of social conscience have been transformed into little more than the revenge of the middle class.
Nowhere more is this so than in the case of prison-based social workers and criminal justice probational/supervision officers who are little more than appendages of repressive state power and act as a legitimizing and respectable cover for that power.
The collaboration of prison hired social workers in the victimization of prisoners labelled ‘control problems’ was exemplified by Matthew Stillman, a social worker employed by Perth and Kinross Council in Scotland, who in 2007 whilst on placement at Castle Huntley open prison in Dundee wrote a social work report for the Parole Board in which he described the Anarchist Black Cross support group (ABC) as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and my support of it as sufficient reason to deny my release after 30 years in jail. As a direct consequence of Stillman’s report I was removed from Castle Huntley open jail where I was preparing for release and returned to maximum security conditions. Following a public campaign by the ABC and an internal investigation by Perth and Kinross Council, Stillman’s claim was exposed as a deliberate lie and he was quietly moved to another job. Stillman would subsequently claim that senior management as Castle Huntley jail had encouraged him to make the terrorist claim in his report. What the episode actually illustrated was the malleability of ‘criminal justice professionals’ by a vindictive prison management and how willing such ‘professionals’ compromise their integrity in the interests of career and power.
This was again illustrated in February of this year before another scheduled parole hearing to consider my release when the Parole Board asked a community based social worker in Edinburgh, Brendon Barnett, to prepare a post release supervision plan report. Told by the prison authorities that I was refusing to co-operate with an assessment for psychology based behaviour modification programmes, Barnett wrote a report clearly intended to influence the parole board to deny my release indefinitely. Like Stillman, he also wrote lies in his report, but this time the lies really did defy belief.
When claiming to describe my original offence in 1980 and my ‘patterns of behaviour’ at the time of the offence, Barnett wrote in his report: “His victims were individuals easily discriminated against on the basis of race and sexuality”. “There was a pattern of behaviour that allowed for the predatory targeting of vulnerable human beings defined by race or sexuality”. “Individuals were deemed worthy of attack on the basis of ethnic background and deviant sexuality”. “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worth of attack: ethnic background, deviant sexuality?” Incredibly, without any reference to official records, i.e. police reports or trial transcripts, Barnett committed his outrageous lies to a report intended for the Parole Board, a body thoroughly conversant with the facts of my original offence.
The actual facts are these. In November 1980, during a drunken party at a flat in South London, Donald Ryan, a white Caucasian, heterosexual man was killed by 3 other white Caucasian, heterosexual men, one of whom was me. The police who investigated the case, the prosecution authorities and trial judge who tried the case, have never claimed or suggested there was a racist or homophobic dimension to the case, and why would they? Barnett’s claims were a complete invention. In the preamble to his report Barnett claimed that all his information was derived from ‘core documents’ and ‘source material’; this was also a lie. An explanation as to Barnett’s motives in writing such reckless lies is possibly provided by other parts of his report. Under a heading he terms “Compliance” he writes: “Bowden’s time in custody has been characterised as a sustained and deliberate war of attrition with the prison service. It is reported that earlier in his sentence he often began riots, dirty protests and hunger strikes. As his sentence progressed Bowden developed a strategy of intellectual analysis of the system he is subject to. He appears to conceptualize his activities in the light of a particular ideological awareness and as part of a wider struggle”. He then provides the Parole Board with website references for various articles I’ve written criticising the prison system and cites Stillman’s report as a reference source. He concludes this part of his report with – “Bowden questions the whole validity of the prison system and the honesty, professionalism and impartiality of those charged with his assessment and supervision”.
The core motive for Barnett’s lies are clearly revenge for Stillman, and this is made explicit in a paragraph of the report entitled “Professional Boundaries”. Under this he writes: “Bowden is known to have aired grievances on the internet with regard to particular professionals involved in the assessment of his level of risk. He appears to have authored articles that have been forwarded to various websites naming professionals involved in the parole process, suggesting readers contact them directly. He has suggested a named social worker’s “right wing views” (Stillman) influenced his assessment of Bowden”. He then issues a clear threat: “Should he repeat these actions (publicising the names of social workers) this could be deemed a rejection of the conditions of release”. What Barnett is actually saying is that should I dare to expose and publicise his outrageous lies then I risk imprisonment until death.
Brendon Barnett is supposedly a social worker employed by the Criminal Justice Services in Edinburgh who last year was instructed by his employers to prepare a post release supervision plan for me and present it’s features in a report for the Parole Board. Instead he abused his position by collaborating with the prison system to prejudice the parole process and sabotage my release. Rather stupidly, instead of basing his disgusting allegations on historical fact and official record, he obviously regurgitated lies from Micheal Mansfield’s “Memoirs Of A Radical Lawyer”, that Mansfield himself has now publicly admitted were completely untrue. Brendon Barnett should be sacked.
Please write letters of complaint to:Michelle Miller Chief Social Worker Officer Grindlay Court Social Work Centre Criminal Justice Services 2-4 Grindlay Court Edinburgh EH3 9AR Fax: 0131 2298628 Please send letters of support to: John Bowden 6729 HMP Shotts Canthill Road Shotts Lanarkshire Scotland ML7 4LE