If turning out genuinely rehabilitated prisoners who do not go on to commit serious offences once released is the stated aim of the British prison system – and why wouldn't it be? – then HMP Grendon has been a success for 48 years.And this chap should know. He’s a former inmate.
For this reason, the death of Robert Coello, a 44-year-old convicted paedophile, at the prison in Buckinghamshire, could be just what HM Prison Service has been waiting for. The institution is very expensive to run, costing between £45,000 to £50,000 per prisoner a year, as opposed to £38,000 in other male category-B prisons. This doesn't please the bean-counters at the Ministry of Justice, nor does Grendon's success show the rest of the prison system in a good light.That difference in cost seems to me to be minor, if it effects a real change.
Surely a recidivist costs society far, far more than the £7000 to £12000 difference in the long run?
All inmates at Grendon are volunteers and before entering the therapeutic regime they used to be vetted by probation and psychology staff to ascertain their genuine desire to change, and given an IQ test to ensure they were intelligent enough for the daily cognitive group therapy sessions.Ah, I see. So they are selecting those most likely to benefit. Surely, that’s sensible? Even the late, unlamented government has to have seen the benefit in th...
Before this murder there had never been a serious violent incident at Grendon. That it has happened now is, sadly, no surprise. Until 2002 Grendon had a waiting list of approximately 200 prisoners. And then HMP Dovegate, a privatised prison in Staffordshire, opened its own therapy unit and took those prisoners who had been waiting for Grendon. Unfortunately, the opening of Dovegate, and other smaller therapy units throughout the prison system, had the effect of forcing Grendon to compete for "customers" in a market where it was once the sole provider. This meant Grendon had to significantly lower its once strict acceptance criteria.Hmmm, 2002. Remind me, who was running the Home Office when that decision was taken?
Other jails were now doing Grendon's job a lot cheaper, albeit with nowhere near its success rate. So some things had to change.Oh oh…
The first thing to be quietly phased out was the "drug-free" rule. Previously, in order to even get on to the induction wing at Grendon, an inmate had to prove – via mandatory drug testing – that he was at least six months clear of any drug use, including psychotropic prescription drugs.
It was still against the constitution to take drugs at Grendon, but now exceptions were being made for some prescription medication, and men were getting off the prison transports still under the influence of heroin./facepalm
Gone was the battery of interviews, and even the IQ test was dropped./doublefacepalm
By the time I left Grendon, getting there was as simple as expressing mild interest to a probation officer or psychologist.Oh, FFS..!
So, let's look at what happened here. The Home Office, under a Labour government, had a system that worked, that rehabilitated prisoners (something they claim is the main purpose of prison, as far as I can see) and they weren't content with that, oh no.
They just had to tinker, to meddle, to attempt to have that same success elsewhere, with no understanding, it seems, of exactly why they were getting that success here...
A prison-based therapy unit can only function effectively if the inmate volunteers have a genuine desire to change, and without safeguards at the induction stage there is no way of weeding out the wasters.Well, we certainly weeded out some of our wasters, at the General Election.
Can we hope the new lot of wasters we elected instead will reverse this disastrous decision?