12 Apr 2009

Idle hands leads to lots of ranting.

What a surprise. The BBC fails to address core issues again

"POA national chairman Colin Moses added: "We have been warning of this type of disturbance for many months, but no one wants to listen."

There is little concern for prisoners in this country, we have too many right wing opinions and too few experiences of true rehabilitation to recognise it's worth. It has been widely reported for years that the prison population is rising. (How much of this is due to extent of criminalisation this government perpetuates?).

"He said a lack of investment had led to fewer specialist staff and a failure to address the issue could lead to HMP Ashwell becoming the "first of many disturbances of 2009".

The BBC fails to address the core issue, that the reclassification of prisoners has led to people going into cat C prisons only 1 year to 18 months into a mandatory offense. Yet they then go on to say:

"However, a Prison Service (PS) spokeswoman insisted it was "simply untrue" Ashwell was either holding Category B prisoners or overcrowded."

There is NOTHING in the article prior to this about the categories of prisoners. Yet they seem to assume this is a forgone conclusion of their staccato sentences and IMPACT statements.

"there is not overcrowding"

Bollocks. In short. The population is currently 83,058. This increased by a third in a decade. The lists of publications on penal reform nd overcrowding are limitless on the Internet. It is a well publicised and documented fact we have more prisoners than any other country in Europe, not to mention re offence rates etc etc.

(as a little digression, the prison population costs our government £3,156,204 a year at an average of £38,000 per prisoner. This is more than £10K more than the average wage of the British person. What evidence is there to suggest this is a good investment?)

and assures me that there are not any Category B prisoners, they are all Category C," she said.

To discuss in more detail, this was not the point POA national chairman Colin Moses was making. His point was the excessive bureaucracy of the prison service (as with all civil services) has been used to demote categories of prisoners whom, five years ago, would have been cat B prisoners. This is therefore changing the nature of the inmates in the prisons as they are now interacting with those who have committed more severe offences.

There is also a failure to analyse or research this situation at all. Better not to scare people huh? Let them go on with their Easter weekends and ignore the fact that at least a third, and potentially 70-80% of people in prison are serious drug users and serious offenders. That the Penal System fails to separate people with severe drug problems, mental health or psychotic problems, much less treat them effectively. We are spending £38k a person a year to give them a free b&b, introduce them to more contacts and then pat them on the back and give them a council house.

What we are seeing is the potential for the development of a much nastier and organised gang culture in British Prisons unless SOMETHING is done. And that something is not giving prisoners the vote.

People need to wise up to the fact prisoners are human beings, that the American way of locking them up and throwing away the key is not the way forward. Behaviour is a learned response. We need more investment in rehabilitation and teaching.

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