Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Prisons: UK Degenerating to US Levels

A cheap vote winner with moronic citizens is being tough on crime and harsh on criminals, it’s a gimmie that gets all the hardliners salivating and the person in the street feeling safer.

It is of course, a load of old tosh.

Locking people up is not the answer, never has been, prison’s were invented to hold those deemed unredeemable rather than everyone from murderers through to blackmailers, thieves and those unable to pay their debts. But throwing people away and into gaol makes for easy political fodder and all that camp, fervent, tough on crime nonsense while no effort is made on the extenuating circumstances that prompt people to commit crime; mainly poverty, which is not so headline friendly and a lot harder to crack.

The obsession with criminalising behaviour by UK legislators means that the prison service is set to implode, with no cells for new convicts and no holding cells in courts and police stations (as they are full of convicts) so that new offenders have no where to be held and those on bail and who can’t meet it, will have to walk free as the inn is quite clearly full. As I type, the liminal point in cell allocation is being reached with the balance being only 400 or so in the black.

The UK prison service is now reaching breaking point as the number of prisoners in England and Wales reached an all time high of 80,846 and all to feed the political machine and the worrisome electorate with the crime and punishment biscuit. Which right now must taste pretty crappy.
This is the consequence of the drive to throw people away and not deal with the foundations of crime or effective rehabilitation techniques. It seems that as each days goes on we draw closer to our allies in America, both in military aims and social policy.

What next? Making everyone pay for health treatment and the death penalty?



  1. Oh dear. The bleeding heart liberal comes through again. Of course UK prison isn't the solution to crime because our prisons are like a Butlins or Pontins compared to their US counterparts. The whole point of a prison is a psychological deterrent. It goes like this: if I do something bad, I am going to a place that's even badder - so I am going to avoid doing something bad because I don't want bad things to happen to me.

    However, we have a prison system which is hung up on human rights and giving the scrotes access to PlayStations and pornography. So I agree: prison isn't the answer. However, a return to prison being the system that initiates the removal of certain rights that come with being a productive member of soceity and then we might see a change. Even though I am a leftie, I am one of those people who believes that crime and punishment should be linked. I would welcome enforced labour as a way of reducing a prisoners sentence and then imagine the swelling of pride you would feel in your middle-class heart as you saw a team of prisoners cleaning up your community, or helping run a day centre for pensioners or even fixing the roads? Imagine that - prisoners being productive. But that won't happen because we all know that prisoners have human rights - and they have more rights than you do, dear boy.

    But we live in a society where younger generations have no fear of the consequences of their actions. We live in a shallow, self-obsessed, "I'll do what I like" society and unfortunately the prison system cannot cope with it. The law has to deal with the constant cry of "I know my rights" and concede before Strasbourg gets involved.

    As for the foundations of crime, the experts often cite poverty as a cause, but I don't believe it anymore - because if poverty was the cause of crime we'd see more street urchins nicking loaves of bread, rather than ram-raiders trying to smash their way through Currys shop window for the latest 42" Plasma TV. Criminal behaviour very often begins at home with mum and dad "breaking the rules" (claiming dole or benefits when they shouldn't, etc) and trickles down from there. And then there's interesting effect street culture has on our young and the obsession with material wealth feeding into that general shallowness that pervades our land.

    In my eyes, once a criminal always a criminal. Rehabilitation is just another way of wasting tax money. The only way you can rehabilitate is to push the offender so far down until they hit the bottom, and then let them find their own way back up to the top.

    People forget that we are all put on this earth to make decisions. We either make the right decision or the wrong decisions and whatever decisions we make, they are our own and we have to be adult enough to live with them and their consequences.

  2. I work in probation hostels Dan and it's amazing how many offenders are sent back to prison for the minor(est) of reasons - for example, coming back a few mins late, having an alcoholic drink etc etc. The terms of many offenders' licences are quite ridiculous at times. I agree, our prison system stinks..I read an interesting article about an experiment in Norway whereby prisoners were sent to live on an island, just off Oslo and made to become self sufficient, responsible for livestock and each other, albeit with few rules and regulations. The reoffending rates were only 3%, once the prisoners had been rereleased into the community - that's what you call a progressive, sucessful system..

  3. prisoners charged 25 quid a night, payable once your earning.
    If we make our students pay we should make our criminals pay.

    Of course, it will only work if our prisons reform rather than punish. but money has always been a great insentive....

  4. Eat them? Oh sorry, that was Swift's idea for Ireland.

    Are UK prisons as racially problematic as they are in the US? L.A. ships prisoners to other states, though that's being challenged in the courts. When you figure out a solution, please let me know.

  5. The UK prison service is now reaching breaking point a

    It has to get that way before the government will outsource it to some prison company. They will then lobby for longer sentences and a "crime crackdown" to keep the new jails filled and running at maximum efficiency.


  6. Darren my dear, sweet boy you really are so wide of the mark! So entrenched and bitter based on your own personal experiences that your own awareness of prisons, what it means to be in one and the living conditions are based more on The Daily Mail than the reality of the situation, which I and other friends of mine are fully aware of.

    The Butlins cliche is just that, spend some time in a prison, do some work there and then you'll see that is not the case. Your wild statements are based on bad facts, discover the truth rather than parroting the party line. I find it rather sad that you think people in prison are animals and need to be mistreated.

    YOur view of young people is equally as backward and prejudiced, again you have no knowledge, no professional experience; only your own upbringing and your own path by which to judge others.

    The fact that you can't see a corrolation between poverty and crime makes me doubt your grip on the basic tenents of economics and years of social science done by people far cleverer than us. Your Daily Mail style leanings are also reflected in your comment on dole cheats, which not only make up a tiny part of benefit fraud but is also not reflective of the majority of those making claims for benefit.

    As for not being able to reform criminals, as a reformed criminal and someone who has work extensively with reformed criminals or those wishing to reform your comment once again expose your lack of knowledge and experience on the matter.

    You're taking potshots with a chip on your shoulder.

    Sara: nice to have a voice of experience, reason and knowledge!

    Bud: I fear the selling out of prison services, their is no profit to be made in the punishment of criminals.

  7. Professional experience beats life experience... Damn! I lose again. Anyway, you keep saving the world, mate. I'm far too stupid for that... ;-)

  8. You know it's not as simple as that but you're projecting your own personal convictions, via your personal experience, onto all these other humans when you don't work in that field or experience what you're riffing on.

  9. But it is the old get-out that appears on almost every internet forum: "You are not xyz, so you can't have any opinion of 123".

    For example, I've written some equally bad things about musicians on music websites and the old comeback is "How can you say that? You aren't a professional musician!" True, but neither am I a Brussel Sprout and I don't like those either. So anyone can be dismissive of anyone else's argument by that simple get out: "You don't know, because you have no experience of it".

    So there's really no point courting opinions if you are going pull that old ruse, is there? It's boring! And to be honest, what I've written about criminals and criminality is no worse than you taking the piss out of someone whose grasp of the English language isn't as good as yours. Stop being such a hypocrite and get some perspective.

  10. I'm not asking you to not to have an opinion, I'm asking you to consider that maybe people with experience of the UK prison service, or working with UK prisoners have a degree of expertise and knowledge that you might lack on the matter. Especially when you views come across as recycled Daily Mail missives.

    Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses but I was asking you to consider that those of us that work in this field may have some more knowledge we can bring to bear on the matter.

    Don't be mardy just because you're following the slide with old age into extreme right-wing thinking.

    PS: the post about the Big Issue seller is not real.

  11. The scary thing is that I have never read a copy of the Daily Mail in my life. But then I only post here to get a reaction from you. ;-)


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