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Hello, my name is Chris. I am a prisoner who is currently held in a maximum-security facility in Western Australia. I have been locked up since 2001. Four and a half years remain until my release.

Justice Action was made known to me a short time ago. The opportunity to express myself and receive feed back from others from both inside and out was something I have wanted to do for some time now. Other perspectives are always helpful and often lead to a deeper understanding of things.

To give some indication of my method in combating ignorance that has become entrenched in systems such as this one please allow me to refer to the principle of pragmatism.

Every person has full knowledge of ultimate truth contained within their soul and only needs to be spurred to conscious reflection to become aware of it, Socrates believed that in matters of morality, it is best to seek out genuine knowledge by exposing false pretensions, he was later convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens. It is the pattern of ignorance and the reasons of intent that perpetuates it that I will share with you. My intimate knowledge of this and my ability to explain certain phenomena is the very reason for my recent treatment. I understand that a web page is usually represented on a more personal level however I would prefer to share my intimate details for those who I have come to know. I look forward to the possibility of connecting with many of you.

'Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same’.
 - Michel Foucault

This website that the Justice Action team have so graciously helped me to present is in most regards not for my own benefit. If along the way I form friendships with people that develop into a mutual enjoyment then I have gained something of worth. Primarily I maintain a strong desire to serve others. This is where I draw my focus. Most of us don’t like being put on show and much of our history and memories are a private affair. Not anyone I know enjoys digging around in painful memories, it serves no real purpose other than to take us back to a less adopted states. A review of past events can be of benefit it helps us see how and why change has occurred. I think that’s something we all do at times and mostly it is a time of our own choosing.

That now brings me to the motivation behind this website. As prisoners we are required to participate in offender courses ran at various institutions. If for any reason people choose not to do these courses then they are not afforded the privileges that complaint people are granted. Examples being: security rating and access to less secure prisons. Progress to places within the prison such as ‘self care’, that are created so as to reward prisoners for being on good behaviour by providing better conditions such as food, living areas, less hassles from the officers etc. Often when a prisoner declines the offer to participate in courses, their security rating is increased and they are moved to a less friendly environment in the form of one of the less progressive maximum facilities. Most prisoners comply so as to eventually progress to a minimum security facility. Who wouldn’t choose to do easier time? My own situation is that I did comply; only it was because of my participation that placed me in a position where I have had to defend myself.

It is because of the way I defended my own autonomy that ‘professionals’ in the system have create in many regards an impasse for me. Not because of anything I had done but because much of what I did say challenged their held believes pertaining to their fields of knowledge. The core problem with that scenario is the unfortunate situation where people hold on so tenaciously and identify so strongly with the knowledge of their chosen profession that any form of challenge to it is a personal attack. An attack to their identity not only as a person but a potential threat to their livelihoods and to the system they represent as well.

I did not enter the situation with any other intent other than to serve others. At the time of my participation in the course that being the 4th quarter of 2011; I was in the best and relaxed state of my tempestuous life.

Any psychologist of healer worth their salt will tell you that in order to heal you must understand that the person or persons that have caused your suffering did not know you as you are. Did not understand your worth as a human being. Simply because their own lives have lost value to them.

So in that light we cannot take it personally. What we had experienced was the damage that was retained in the offender or offenders. The principle behind that enables us to view the act objectively. It does not lessen the damage to ourselves or the gravity of the offence. What it does do is enable us to move beyond being a victim. We are then eventually able to reach some understanding and begin healing from the effect, regain our dignity and move forward.

If we do not do this we are allowing the offence to maintain its power over our lives. In essence we take back our power. Ignorance fails.

I do not pretend to be a psychologist as such; however knowing what I do is the result of incredible people who taught me how to heal myself. Much of established psychology in our culture is only relative to certain people at certain periods in their lives. Much of it also is someone else’s idea of how things are. Anything that relies on other people’s idea of how things are without little or no insight into ourselves becomes something other than what it should be. It lacks the strength that is needed to move beyond the effects of the damage either imposed or self-imposed with in us.

Much of my discourse will not hold strong relevance to everyone. People understand different things in different ways at different times in their lives. I cannot convince everyone to see things as I do. I am not out to. There are people through our society who are not necessarily regarded as ‘professionals’, and yet have a much deeper understanding of what it is to be human than most.

Those people will take what they need to from my words. That is all I am hopeful of some, creative banter along the way is always an opportunity for an increased awareness to occur.

So as to keep everything in context, allow me to say this: I am very aware that there are people such as psychologists, psychiatrists, councillors, etc. who are very dedicated to the service of their fellow man, that are not primarily interested in income, reward or status. People who do possess a lot of intuitive knowledge and are insightful, kind and as such very effective in easing and at times healing the pain that so many of us have endured. Those are the dedicated and humble. For those people I hold a lot of respect. Unfortunately they are few and far between.

Allow me also to apologise up front for my inadequacies. I am working on them. Initially our wonderful language. Something I would love to master. Unfortunately I am a late starter in that regard. I understand the power inherent within the syllables and syntax of language I have felt it and at times been able to emanate it in some regards. So far those who share my love of words please forgive my ignorance. I am happy to be corrected and will take on board any relevant and constructive advice. That principle pertains to everything I do. There are times when the combination of words emanate the power to have a desirable effect. Sometimes enough to change a held perspective of the reader. At times just a slight shift.

If I can move someone’s perspective in some way then I will achieved what I have set out to do. Some will understand things on a deeper level, for those it will be a series of confirmations. Even that can be enough to remind people what it’s all about and maybe prompt them in to action, at least in their own lives.

There is however a language that exists that bridges all civilisations and culture, transcends all knowledge, that is within every human being on the planet. It is known as the language of love. From here all wisdom and truth flow. Nothing holds more power, nothing is as illuminating, no phenomena is greater. Its reality is the nectar, and I have found, we do not have a privileged access to that reality, intrinsic as it is.

Words of love coming from an offender a criminal, a pariah, my seem out of keeping. But consider this - some of us through adversity that would have long ago crushed an average person have worked it out.

For those of use who have had to become a fighter, a solider, a warrior in the battle against adversity, against those inner demons and the providing ignorance around us have had to overcome our fear, have had to strengthen our spirit, and face the gnashing teeth of the enemy. Only a true warrior has overcome his fear of death. It is only at that time does a man truly start to live.

We have lived for what seems forever without love in our lives. So much so that when it did come our way we rejected it. We did not feel worthy of such kindness. Then once the long journey of gaining your self worth, as a man is complete and the taste of love is on offer, you drink its warm nectar deep and long. Then you protect its worth with every ounce of your strength, with all the knowledge you have gained all the depths of your passion.

Self autonomy was one of the gifts of that battle and the defence of that never ends.

In order to change things we at first need to identify the problem that exists. The reasons why the problem exists in the first place will be brought to light as we go.

You know what men are like, we have to fix things. It won’t take that much. Remove a few of those heavy old cogs. Put some lightweight running gear under her and then push her out into the wind.

The problem was that those old cogs were cast with the wrong metal. Slow to respond and too thick.

As Socrates believed, in order to seek out genuine knowledge you expose the false pretentions. We must discover the reasons and the pretence behind them in order to prevent them happening ever again. You may discover that the problem has been eating away at you for some time.

Although I am a prisoner you will also discover that everything I demonstrate is happening around and to you as well. Everything I say holds relevance in your life as much as mine.

A situation developed early 2012. By the time March arrived the plan for my punishment had been formalised. It just took a bit of corruption to kick it off. I have a A4 lever arch file filled to capacity with letters I have written and received. Obviously I will not waste your time by putting them all on the site, most of them say the same things anyway. I have exhausted all departmental avenues. The situation started heating up when I asked the people that were running a course I was participating in to please not recommend any more courses for me. I had observed how other prisoners had been pencilled in to do more courses that they had not been aware of previously. Very often these courses are pencilled in after their parole date. So once that happens the programs operator, (or whatever they are called), has decided that there is no parole for that person. Or at the very least it gives the parole board another valid reason to refuse parole, that being - uncompleted programs. Another aspect to that punishment is that the next courses could be held at some other facility. Whether that be a maximum, medium or minimum is part of the equation and even that can vary. Sometimes they are run in one prison, then a year later the same course is being run somewhere else. Sometimes when you finally get confirmation about where and when, they will send you a letter saying either the course was full or it is now held in another prison and you won’t be going there until next year. So prisoners who have family’s that visit them and whom they love just as much as free people do are constantly worried and under pressure as to whether they will see their wife and children, if they have to do the programs.

Please remember we are not at a dinner party with some friends and colleagues. We are mostly in a maximum or medium security facility. Shit happens, and just so happens to be served up regularly. Many of these men a suffering from the whole spectrum of social disorders. Many as well are medicated. Others find drugs and that just adds to their problems. Throw in some staved egos and it becomes quite the circus.

A bloke was attacked in my yard a couple of weeks ago. 10-15 attackers – one bloke/ if the officer hadn’t arrived he would be dead right now. That guy went in knowing that he was going to be mobbed.

In saying that, the prison I am currently in is one of the better ones. Although maximum security it is set in a coastal/country town and many of the officers are – well let’s say –more human than those in other facilities. The system adds all these pressures to a man, his family share those pressures. My point is these courses are being used as punishment tools.

Three days after I requested that no more courses be stimulated. I was called for a ‘case conference’. They changed everything. I was to placed back to a higher security rated prison and I was required to do two more courses that were pencilled in for after my parole date. At that time my parole date was 4 years away. So it was: no parole for you sunshine and we have a nice little torment and misery program lined up for you.

The two courses I was pencilled in for were cog skills and moving away from dependency. I wrote a letter asking to be assessed as to whether those courses were necessary for me. As the experience that I had so far was more in the realm of cognitive dissonance. Drug use was associated with my offence at the time however I have not used drugs for over a decade. It is not because they are not at times, readily available. I have never provided the authorities with a urine sample that came back ‘dirty’. I have been in a whole new reality for a long time now.

The reply that I received was opaque at best. No assessment.

That was the first indication that I was no longer viewed as a compliant prisoner even though I have not refused to do any of their courses.

There is certainly problems that are systematic. When people are treated this way, it open the door for corruption to occur. And it inevitably does. Part of the pattern that ignorance demonstrates is that logic and very often reason take a back seat. If your primary objective is intrinsic in the punishment of people then common sense need not apply. 

‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
                                                               - Dan Brown

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17 July 2014

Extract from a letter sent to Justice Action 

I rang a friend the other day and he pulled up my webpage. He has not long been out after completing a six-year sentence. His aunty was with him at the time. She is what we refer to as 'straight' or 'sqaurehead'. That may sound a bit derogatory, but it just simply means that they have never been to prison or “strayed” outside the law. ‘Squarehead’ basically means conditioned, rarely think outside the square so to speak. Like most, they skate along the veneer or illusions of life and are generally happy to do so. Ignoring the realities because it is easier and more comfortable.

So anyway, she read what you guys had put up on the site and started asking questions and began taking interest in what was spoken about.

That to me is what it is all about. Getting people curious enough to take an interest. Maybe change a perspective. That is how unity is created. That is also how the social consciousness changes.

I am not saying that we are all good people – treat us nicely. There are people I have met in here that I have thought, ‘I hope you don’t get out any time soon’. Some people are just bloody dangerous and full of anger and violence. But within that is my whole point. Prisons are not geared to help in a way that is socially productive. What happens here not only enhances the likelihood of people reoffending – it increases the severity of the offence. Their own psychologists say it. Hurt people – hurt people. Even a lot of the attitude and psychology being used in courses and in the treatment of people is very counter productive to what is coined as ‘resocialization’. Most prisoners in regard to the courses etc just say what the people running it want to hear. Reports are written, judgements are made. In some courses, cameras are set up.

Is this an environment for the helping and the healing of mostly angry, damaged people? I remember the first three months of the course that I was to do. Three months of banging on about the crime, taking people back going over and over – then asked to write from that state of regression. For some of us it was like living a car crash over and over. If those people believe that is the way to heal a person, then this is indeed a very dark period we are now in. Regressing people back to former, less advanced states is a violent act within itself. Then when people respond to the treatment with emotion and anger, it is brushed over and moved along to the next module or agenda on the white board. Rope learning at its best.

Things are not dealt with, things are compounded. These people for one – are not qualified to deal with that they themselves create in the classroom setting.

Why create it?

That is how people become morally or ethically conscious. A kick in the guts, and when someone says “this hurts, stop!” the pain is ignored by the impact of another kick.

But anyway – I filled in about three journals in those three months. I created a thesis and conducted a working hypothesis before I even knew what those words meant. Not because I was trying to be half smart, it was because over time I have healed much of myself and remain knowledgeable enough to know how things are in respect to being a human being.

When you do that – face real truths and overcome – through knowledge and kindness, your not ducking and weaving anymore. The blanks are filled with the light of awareness.

So in that course I was no longer a student in that area – I had mastered it. As such, I was an observer looking for ways to improve things.

It was my duty as a human being to help and serve others. I had, out of curiosity observed participants involved in previous courses. Watched reactions, read some of the structure and spent a lot of time trying to negate the damage I saw occurring in people, by simply telling them – demonstrating to them, some basic truths. Anyway, I thought I could help, the facilitators saw me as a threat and here I am writing in pencil being subjugated nearly two years after I was extracted from the said class.

You might say that I shot myself in the foot, and you would probably be right. In my journals I documented the potential danger to myself and my situation. I was not unaware of the inevitable backlash. As I wrote in one of the journals, “what sort of person would my daughters think I was if I had observed people suffering and did nothing to change the situation”. I would be a coward for one. Over the years it has been the thought of my beautiful daughters that gave me the strength to keep fighting, and I will never stop thinking of them. 

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19 July 2014

'If you treat me like a dog, keep me locked up in a cage, I am not relaxed or comfortable, I am aggravation and rage.'

- Powderfinger

Imprisonment is an injury no matter what your perspective of it is. There are constant humiliation tactics and psychological domination methods woven through regimes that prison authorities implement to make even the most passive person contemplate thoughts of agression and fill his heart with pain and hate. If you are not a strong person to begin with, your spirit will be crushed in a very short period of time. You will be shown as much disrespect as prison authorities are permitted to get away with.

Of course this treatment is not constant. The only thing that is constant is the pervading undercurrent of resentment and distrust that both officers and prisoners feel towards each other. We, as prisoners, know that there are genuine and kind prison officers and people in this system - right up until the time that they are ordered to perform some act of subjugation to a prisoner. Whether physical or psychological. These days unless you are a very angry violent person, it is mostly psychological, which eventually will make you into the latter; in time.

Then after a period of time - up come the courses - enter the psychologists and facilitators. It would be all good if in fact they were there to help. Only; they are not. Please allow me to explain in just a few words: these people choose to mistake submission as a sign of change, compliance as healing. You may as well be in a Government run goulag in China.

For those who are unaware of what a goulag is (by the way they are still very functional aspects of China); it is where any form of dissent towards the Government is systematically removed from the psyche of the said offender. Dissent is seen as a challenge to the control of the ruling faction. If you spoke of being an autonomous recalcitrant in China you may get some unwanted attention.

But we are not in China, we are in prison, and why should you be concerned about treatment that you have been conditionally trained to believe is what we all deserve? This is why: Because one day, possibly today, some of us will be released into your community. If you are able, please check out the stats of reciditive offending in W.A. alone. I would hazzit a guess that they will be notably higher in the numbers than other states in Australia. So even statistically prisons are getting it wrong. Unless of course politicians are well aware of this, and it need not be adressed because it suits a developing agenda. This system either crushes your spirit, humanity, and individualism or it fills the hearts of its prisoners with pain and hate. Absolute compliance vs. absolute resentment. Or a mixture of both, the latter being repressed, covered and masked.

However, there is something else that can happen. It is very rare. It is not because of a situation; not because of anticedent events; it is in spite of them. A person can develop the strength and awareness to become more than adversity dictates him to be. There are 3 things required for that to take place: awareness, experience, and knowledge. Knowledge being central to it all.

The problem/challenge with the last situation is that knowledge can be seen as the biggest threat to the existing status quo. These past 2 years of my imprisonment have demonstrated that. Even as I write to you today I am on a 23 hour lockdown regime and have been for 19 days now. I have been informed that this will continue until I comply. It has little to do with the current situation that was created as an excuse to fetter me. It is because of the course I participated in. I mentioned this in my last discourse. They will keep doing it no matter if I comply to their recent demands of me or not. The authorities can mask the reasoning with as many situations as they choose to create. However, it will never change the fact that this system of imprisonment increases the likelyhood of offending and compounds the severity.

A few things I discussed on a course were deemed such a hreat to the system that I have had cause to take my concerns and evidence of systematic abuse into the Supreme Court in an attempt to have it stopped. The abuse being my treatment from authorities after being removed from the course. That is the amzing thing about the truth; it resonates.

'Most psychologists consider it a personal insult to have philosophical thoughts.'

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24 November 2014

We announce it at darkness that we will not be diminished by the gravity of our lives. That we will not thereby be made less.

'In modern justice and on the part of those who dispense it there is a shame in punishing, which does not always preclude zeal. This sense of shame is constantly growing: the psychologists and minor civil servants of moral orthopaedics proliferate on the wound it leaves.'

- Foucault: The Body of the Condemned

Foucault uses the word 'proliferate', and undoubtedly the industry of the confined intellect is spreading. However, I wuld suggest to the budding young psychologists that a career path based on current Freudian type psychoanalysis will not flower into a fruitfull life for them. If your career takes you down the path to a government-run facility such as the prison industry, then you will be used as their instrument of punishment.

Foucault moves into a deeper reality by saying: 'If the penalty in its most severe forms no longer addresses itself to the body, on what does it lay hold?' The answer of the theoreticians - those who around 1760 opened up a new period that is not yet at an end - is simple, almost obvious. It seems to be contained in the question itself: since it is no longer the body, it must be the soul. The expiation that once rained down upon the body must be replaced by a punishment that acts in depth on the heart, the thoughts, the will, the inclinations. Mably formulated the principle once and for all: 'Punishment, if I may so put it, should strike the soul rather than the body' (Mably, 326).

It was an important movement. The old partners of the spectacle of punishment, the body and the blood, gave way. A new character came on the scene, masked. It was the end of a certain kind of tragedy; comedy began, with shadow play, faceless voices, impalpable entities. The apparatus of punitive justice must now bite into this bodiless reality.

Foucault was derided and disregarded by many of his contemporaries. Now, however, he is regarded as probably the most influential thinker of the Twentieth Century - his work is studied across the humanities and social sciences, amongst other disciplines.

The reason that I take interest in people such as Michel Foucault and many of the philosophers from the past is primarily to validate my discourse. If I were to express myself and try and deliver an opinion based only upon my own experience then it would become very easy for 'professionals' within this current system to perpetuate their opinion that I am a delusional person. Delusional is one of the nicer assessments. It is one however that is their trump card. Within that one word capsulates the cognitive dissonance that is the primary weapon of psychologists and psychiatrists within, as I have termed, 'the industry of the confined intellect'. In short: The current knowledge base being implemented.

To say to a person that they are delusional is intended to create doubt in that person's mind. Particularly if it is said by a professional who is making assessments that have ramifications in the future of that person's life. It causes the person to question everything he thinks, says and does. It also causes the person, more often than not, to defend themselves. If you are passionate in your defence, that will be interpreted as anger. So then you are now an angry, delusional, and possibly violent offender. 

That is through the use of one word within the repertoire that is psychoanalysis. I am sure that the descriptions used are often correct in the world of mental illness. That is not my argument. My argument is that the knowledge base is being used to punish, discredit and harm the individual. This application of knowledge is thereby a form of torture. As Mably (326) puts it: 'Punishment, if I may so put it, should strike the soul rather than the body.'

Once these descriptions are placed on file within the prison system it sticks. Everyone who has influence and an opinion amongst the 'authorities' thereafter perpetuates the reference and very often adds to it. Thereafter everything you do or say, however innocuous, is seen for something other than it is. This is the mechanism that is used to validate the inhumane treatment of a prisoner.

How do I know these things and why do I come against them so strongly?

Because I am that prisoner.

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Letters from Chris

Letters from Chris Bentley and Letter to Commissioner Murray

 

 
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