“Hardship has Tempered me and Turned my Mind to Steel” – Letter by radical long-term prisoner John Bowden about his parole process (UK)

The situation with my parole remains bizarrely uncertain, and it has now become obvious that it is not the parole board that is deciding matters but the Justice Ministry itself. Unfortunately my Judicial Review fell at the first hurdle after my initial optimism when the first judge to consider my case decided there did appear to be a breach of proper legal procedure in the way the Justice Ministry refused to refer my case back to the parole board when the board’s supposed dissatisfaction with the length of time the probation service had arranged for me to spend in a parole hostel if released was put to rest when the hostel concerned informed the board that they were prepared to accept me for as long as was considered necessary.

The judge then gave the Justice Ministry 21 days to present a defence as to why I remained in prison still when there was clearly no real public protection justification for my continued imprisonment. 21 days later the Justice Ministry presented a “defence” claiming that it wasn’t just the issue of a long-term hostel place that had influenced the parole board’s decision to deny my release, but also my “aggressive anti-authority authority”, which it was unable to give any specific examples of in terms of breaches of discipline reports, etc. This was a blatant moving of the goalposts and unfortunately the different judge this time to consider the case, and who had obviously been “briefed” about my prison history and politicisation, swallowed the re-manufactured bullshit to justify my continued imprisonment and dismissed my action.

However, he was clearly uncomfortable with providing legal legitimacy for the dodgy reason used to keep me imprisoned, evidenced by him awarding the financial cost of the legal action against the Justice Ministry as well as wringing an agreement from them that my next parole hearing would be expedited and brought forward.

A couple of weeks later, the parole hoard requested all the relevant reports from the prison and probation service in preparation for what I assumed and hoped would be an imminent hearing. Then silence descended. Despite repeated inquiries from my lawyer to the parole board and Justice Ministry the silence prevailed, and then last week they finally broke their silence and claimed they were not prepared to set a date for my next parole hearing until the prison system provided them with a transcript of the judge’s remarks from a prison protest trial in 1984 and my entire prison disciplinary record from 1980, neither of which the prison apparently has.

So now it seems they are digging deep into the past to try and excavate any reason to deny my release, and as I say, I am convinced it is the Justice Ministry that is behind this. So, I am now preparing for another parole knockback probably and then a return to the prison trenches, and trying to retain sufficient inner-strength to cope with that, which I am sure I will.

“Without the cold and desolation of winter, there could not be the warmth and splendour of spring. Hardship has tempered me and turned my mind to steel.” Ho Chi Minh

Take Care, my Friends, and Stay Strong.

In solidarity,

John Bowden

Write to John:

John Bowden,
HMP Warren Hill,
IP12 3BF

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 1:46 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.