Why then had I taken the view that they should no longer work together on the same wing? In the end, the core problem was simply that they refused to see that there was any issue here to be discussed or any dilemma to be managed. More than that, they had behaved as if there were a problem in that they had reached the point of living together before they brought the matter to my attention. In other words, they had got themselves into an oppositional frame of mind in which they assumed that authority (in the form of the governor and myself) would disapprove of their relationship, and then by denying that there was any problem, had managed to bring about the disapproval they had presumed would be there. It seemed to me an unhelpful model of decision making for prisoners who were being asked to solve problems collaboratively, and to welcome and learn from the challenges of others.
If they had approached the issue differently, by sharing the issue when they started to have feelings for each other and by exploring possible consequences of their relationship for the life of the wing, might I have taken a different view? I suppose the answer would have to be ‘yes’, but in truth I still don’t know. Like many issues of human emotions and relationships, it does seem right to be suspicious of definite answers. A good decision in these circumstances would have been a collaborative one that acknowledged uncertainties, whatever the outcome.