Charge Sheet For Prisoner Ben

There are moments in life, rarely appreciated at the time, which predetermine the future course of our existence. For me, one of those moments crept up on me the other day. 1 thought I had reached a pinnacle, the descent of which would be Open prison and release. In truth, the day transformed into an abyss.

I was lying on my bed, grinding my way through the Hitler biography, when a governor knocked on the door. “When do you want to go to Prescoed?'' he asked. I pointed out that I was busy, but that I could squeeze it in this afternoon. “Done”, he said. A guy was leaving Prescoed and I could take his place. He assured me it wasn't a delayed April Fool's joke, this time I would actually arrive at the other end.
This was the news that 1, the Editor, and those of you who support my release had long been waiting for. I was instantly on the phone to the Editor to tell her the best news we could hope for. Unless you have served 31 years in prison, how can I possibly try to convey what it feels like to be within sight of a new life, to look down the tunnel and see the woman I love, waiting in the sunlight?

Shooting up to the Library and Reception, I went to spread the news and sort out the practicalities. Moving, and at such short notice, isn't an uncomplicated social process. Deciding to get a headstart, I packed some box files and my word-processor and delivered them to Reception, the rest to follow after lunch.

On my way back, I took a sledgehammer the likes of which 1 have never had to experience - I was told that there was a mobile phone hidden inside my word-processor . I was utterly stunned, immobilised, helpless. Sitting out on the yard before lunch, trying to smile at people's congratulations, I was in internal freefall . Never has the gap between my internal state and my external presentation been so large.

All I could do was sit and wait. Would my property be X-Rayed before my move? My mind just couldn't cope with calculations, even thinking, about the consequences that would fall if the mobile was found.

As we were being locked up after lunch, a governor marched down to the corridor, looking serious. He told me that I wasn't going to Prescoed, and that I was nicked. The details would follow later. The call I then made to the Editor broke my heart, and all I could do was leave my presence on her answering machine.
The charge sheet was issued that evening - unauthorised possession of a mobile phone.