The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue July 2013

Just what is the point

From Jamie Starbuck - HMP Nottingham

Aside from getting into a yearly fight at school with the same boy I’ve only done one violent act and that got me 30 years in prison. When I become eligible for parole I’ll be 66 years old. I’ll have no money, no contact with anybody on the outside, no house or other material possessions. I’m struggling to see what further purpose I can serve.

I’m not going to want to get out in 2043. If the state pension exists it will barely cover the basics; I’m likely to commit a minor offence just to get the free bed and board HMP service offers.

It costs the government a small fortune to keep me inside these four very tall walls, reading, watching TV and performing menial work for weekly pay that would shame a banana republic. So, I ask again: what is the point? Where is the driving purpose to get me out of bed in the morning? I don’t speak to my family; I didn’t before I killed my wife and it’s difficult to see how and why lines of communication would re-open. It’d be slightly hypocritical on my part and staggeringly magnanimous on theirs considering the grief I’ve given them in the past.

I see Dignitas on the news and can’t help thinking it makes more logical sense than sitting here writing you letters for the next 11,000 days. Put me in a chemical coma – wouldn’t that be cheaper?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suicidal or even unhappy; I’m not even being facetious, it’s a serious question I’m facing and asking ‘What is the point of my being? I could apply to the Open University and get the degree I’ve always dreamed of and then never use it; do education, work and treatment courses that are geared to my release; read another book and watch a film – is that what life now is for me? The search for distracting entertainment while I wait for someone to unlock a door, so they can treat me condescendingly, distrustfully, in a manner that brooks no question or deviation from order.

What’s the point?

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Comments about this letter

3/7/2013 Yorkshire Lee

Maybe this guy should have thought all these questions before he took another life?maybe the wifes family are feeling similar?.

4/7/2013 paul f

the point is jamie, you are paying your debt to society and your wifes family. im sure your wifes family will see the point in you staying there till at least doubt somewhere along the line you will do the tsp course where you will learn to think first before you act.

4/7/2013 Redseptember

As someone who knew Debbie, albeit not well, I cannot imagine the pain you caused the woman you promised to love and to cherish, and the subsequent pain to her family and loved ones.

One of the reasons that we don't have the death penalty is that, as a society, we try to act in a more humanitarian way than those people that choose to murder others.

And there is a lesser part of me that hopes you have a long life - full of regret and pain.

Debbie will be remembered with love and affection. You will probably not even be remembered.

And don't think that is going to be some sort of correspondence...

5/7/2013 Andrew de Berry (Rev) -

Jamie, I've not followed your case and whatever the circumstances by which you came to kill your wife feel pretty damn sad for you having to languish in prison until you're 66. I read about you in today's Times. Of course to the victim's family I'm sure 'you've got everything you had coming to you', or some such. But your letter to Inside Time makes a lot of sense. Just what is the point?

A good few years back I was a prison chaplain 'serving time' in HMP Scrubs amongst other places. Like you and many other inmates I simply cannot for the life of me see what possible good sentences of such a duration do for anyone.

Right now I'm seeing another guy who serving a long sentence for the 'rape' of his girlfriend, a crime which to my mind and in this case needs re-classifying.

Given that I live in the Nottingham area I'll willingly come and pay you a 'pastoral' visit, which may offer you a glimmer of hope or possible direction.

NO religion, I promise unless of course you're curious to know more.

Best wishes, Andrew

5/7/2013 steven battram -

The reason you're in prison until you're of no use to anyone, is a paper exercise and political. Politicians increase prison sentences to obtain a couple of votes from electors: self-serving demagogic politicians will stoop to any level for power. Until crime and punishment is independent of politics and implemented by a symposium of experts, crime will be fair game of the snakes in the House of Commons.

As for pastoral care, I don't think Jamie needs to be introduced to an imaginary friend who lives in the sky. If he wants to find real strength, to dig deep, and find the path that allows him to stand on his own two feet, and be subservient to nobody.

5/7/2013 Relative

I feel for you. You kill one wife - just one - and you're never allowed to forget it! It's really so unfair.

Seriously, your attention-seeking behaviour is just pitiful. I do not detect a scintilla of remorse, it's the usual me-me-me. It's almost as if you're disappointed that your trial didn't make the front pages, so you have to do something else to gain the notoriety you clearly crave. Just shut up, stay in your cell and wait for nature to take its course. No-one wants to hear from you.

5/7/2013 andymc -

steve, he's in prison because he committed a horrendous murder

5/7/2013 Phil Brooks

I would sit tight close your eyes and think long and hard on the round the world trip you enjoyed using the money you stole, a trip like that is out of reach for most of us. Your life ended when you took the life of another, someone who obviously loved you and someone you'd promised to live and care for. Remember your holiday as it'll be the last happy memory you have, honestly I hope you hate every one of those 11000 days then at 66 hopefully they do let you out, to no pension no money nothing, you'll be a frail tired old man, woefully out of touch with the world you are released back into, nothing can bring that lady back, but you deserve utter misery for the rest of your days. You earned your spot, now it time to live it.

5/7/2013 Friend of Debs' family

I followed your blog with fascination not because it was interesting in itself but because I couldn't get over what a self obsessed idiot you were. Friends and I would read out the most moronic ones to each other and screech with laughter. I remember particularly enjoying a letter you wrote to your nephew that positively dripped with smug self pity. I am not laughing now.
The whole point is that there is no point. Don't you get that? You have been removed from society because you are not fit to be a part of it.

8/7/2013 Bill

You deserve everything you got. Stop bleating and get on with serving your time

10/7/2013 Lou

I'm pretty sure your poor wife would have liked the chance to consider the 'point' of her life too?

You took that choice away from her and now you're complaining that choice has been removed from you?

26/8/2013 Simon

Jamie, you ask what is the point of you spending the next 30 years in jail? I can see a few:

1. As punishment for the terrible, terrible thing you did. You took the life of someone who loved and trusted you in a unbelievably callous and calculated way. You have therefore foregone your right to lead a happy, purposeful life.

2. As protection to others. Even if you have only "done one violent act" it was as bad as it gets and now you need to be seperated from everyone else so you can't do anything like that again. Maybe you never would, but why should we take that risk? Do you honestly think society owes you anything now?

3. For the sake of Debbie's family. Haven't they suffered enough without you moaning that your life has no meaning?

Your letter is sad and self-pitying. Do you not have any guilt or shame at all for what you did? You are a truly awful human being and, until you fully come to realise that yourself, you will never, ever be fit for society.

5/11/2013 exnottprisoner

I met you in Nottingham prison and you showed no remorse , and sat in the yard in the sun reading your book as if you were on holiday !

You even got "enhanced" prisoner status faster than most, why I am not sure

Need I say more, do the time and stop whinging

An ex F Wing prisoner

19/12/2013 Concerned

I don't think we can assume this man thinks like the average person. My friend knew Debbie and when she told me about the case I read a lot of the blog and he seems to me to have a very disturbing personality disorder, and is not safe to be around other people. The lack of remorse and focus on self is astounding.

Personally I am concerned that he will be let out at all. My expectation is that no matter how long he is in prison, he will come out the same, and hurt people just the same. I think he needs to be in some kind of secure institution where people don't get out until they can function safely in society, which I think for him would be never. I think it's only luck that he didn't kill more than one person.
Terrible, but I feel it to be true.

Poor gentle, kind, trusting, beautiful Debbie, for being taken in by someone so inhuman and nasty. Not her fault - he would've, I'm sure, been incredibly convincing.

Jamie, if you ever read this I don't want you to take what I've written as compliments. The truly strong, powerful human qualities are to love deeply, connect with people, be kind to people etc even when you don't feel it. These are not weaknesses. It is not a strength to abuse easily. We could all abuse. We often do not, not because we couldn't, but because we choose not to.

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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for July 2013
You should be ashamed of yourself
Stuart Hall wrongly convicted
Victimised by canteen packers
Unlawful Obstruction of Complaints
Putting a price on justice
The death of legal assistance
Without Prejudice
Writing is also a job
When it comes to pay, prison is a Third World Country
Current page: Just what is the point
Medical confidentiality means nothing
Prison slavery
Different standards
Stop your moaning
Criminal and depressing
A message to Priti Patel MP...stop pointing the finger
No rehabilitation without education
Learning phased out by A4e
Mentoring is good news
English literature makes me a better thief
Extremist hypocrites
HMP Long Lartin Ďradicalising extremists
Revamp recall procedures
Changes to IEP
Forgotten IPPs
Kafka lives
Rule 39 mail Ė again
More than an inconvenience
Prisons are too easy
PSIís must be there for a reason
Bullying and descrimination
We agree with Grayling...
Not a game
Mr Grayling, are you listening
Graylingís nonsense...


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