See posts here.
Update 9/12/10: In November Ben was recommended for parole by the Parole Board, and it seems the Ministry of Justice (sic) has accepted this. Ben should now move to an ‘open prison’ (an hilarious contradictory term!), and if all goes well, and thats a big IF, he could be granted a release in maybe 2012. Read this article for more info. Sadly Ben has also recently been diagnosed with some sort of cancerous growth. We send our best wishes to Ben.
Bristol ABC is in semi-regular correspondence with Ben Gunn, a prisoner at Shepton Mallet, in Somerset. Occasionally, he has sent us articles he would like the wider public to read, we include one (below) as a PDF. You will need Adobe Reader to view the pdf – the download can be found here: http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/ We have also blogged on occassion about issues that Ben has raised, for example the attempts to relaunch the national Association of Prisoners (AoP).
At some point in early 2009, Ben found himself ‘appointed’ as General secretary of the Association of Prisoners. The AoP is not of course recognised by the British prison authorities, and is in effect a ‘proscribed’ or banned organisation. This of course makes it extremely difficult for prisoners to organise democratically, which is no doubt the British state’s intention! But try some of them do. One of the aims of the AoP is to force the British state to comply with European law and allow British prisoners the vote in general elections, that most basic of what few human rights we are allowed to have, and which prisoners don’t have. Inside Time (see below) has carried updates on this situation.
Since late August 2009, Ben has commenced a ‘blog‘, and is believed to be the only prisoner to have one. Read his blog because it is well worth it, and we wait with interest to see how long the British state will allow this to continue (so far it still continues…).
Ben is also a regular contributor to Inside Time, the only national monthly newspaper for prisoners. If you would like to read more of Ben’s writing, visit the Inside Time website (http://www.insidetime.org/index2.asp) and enter ‘Ben Gunn’ in the search facility – this should bring up most of the articles he has written.
Prisoner Solidarity – January 2009
the word on the landings is that the prisoners union, the AOP, is being revived with ben gunn as general secretary.
Ben Gunn is now the author of Ben’s Blog which is causing an internet stir and being picked up by the mainstream media.
Bens article today of explaining what it is like to be a lifer,is very thought provoking. Being a person who cannot stand being inside a lift I got the feeling loud and clear.I think I would go slowly but surely insane.
Well done to BG. And about time too.
what an indictment of our justice system, and a waste of money keeping in jail a prisoner who should have been released long ago, but most of all the wasted intelligence of a mostly self educated man who could help others and possibly help with the reform of some of the obvious faults with the existing parole system.
I wish him an early release and God bless
I have just read the story about Ben Gunn in the Times, what on earth has happened to our judicical system, a boy goes into prison for what seems to me was a fight that got out of hand, but sadly ended in tragedy, how many storys do we read or hear of grown men fighting and one killing the other, and what happens to the criminal today, a majority of times its dropped to manslaughter, or even thrown out on technicalities. I truely feel so sorry for this man Ben, what sort of life is he to have when he is released, you might as well have put an Iron mask on him and throw the key away. What sort of people are these ministers and do gooders,you should be ashamed of what you have done to this mans life, nothing will ever make up for the lost time you have taken from him. Prisoner Ben has well and truely exceeded his sentence, and by all accounts has been and still is regretfull of what happened. My god, ; if there is one, because storys like this make me very doubtful and sinical.
I would like to know the name of the barrister who let Gunn down so badly. I expect he is now a senior member of the judiciary…? Perhaps on the day of Gunn’s appearance the barrister had something else on his mind? Like, take the fee and bugger off? Let’s hear it for an independent bar. Hip hip….
Nigel – a pertinent point you make.
We don’t know who his barrister was, however a quick look at Ben’s blog post dated 8 December makes the situation pretty clear. Like so many troubled youth from poorer backgrounds, he got shite advice from the legal profession, and has been paying the price ever since. If you haven’t read Ben’s excellent blog here is the link: http://prisonerben.blogspot.com/
We hope Ben gets his parole, and freedom, very soon.