Saturday, 20 September 2014

Zoe Williams Take Out An Onion For … Well, Who Else?

Criminals, of course.
I’m pretty sure it’s a political confection, the visceral hatred of criminals this government exhibits. It doesn’t indicate any serious reflection on who is actually in prison, what happens to them during their sentence, or what it will take for society to reabsorb them when they’re released.
Society seems to lag behind politics in that respect, with so many old lags totally unaffected by a spell in chokey…
It’s there to establish their credentials as men – tough, morally certain and on the side of right.
You have noticed that they aren’t all men? And, speaking as a not-man, I’m pretty hot on crims being punished for their crimes, Zoe..
Ken Clarke made genuine efforts to reduce prison numbers; professionals said at the time that it was the first time in years they’d had a justice secretary who understood the prison estate and what it needed.
It didn’t play too well with the voters, though, did it? And they are the ones politicians need to please, not the liberal bleeding hearts in the Prison Service.
Chris Grayling, his replacement, seems to take a kind of giddy delight in how little he comprehends of a business before “reforming” it . As a direct result of his policies and tough-guy posturing, the number of prisoners increases every week. It even went up in August, which is unheard of because courts are on holiday.
Hurrah! Maybe that’s why crime is said to be down?

And, of course, there are other ways of reducing the prison population…
Suicides have gone up by 64%. Everybody knows what causes suicides in prison. Too many inmates have mental health problems and shouldn’t even be in prison in the first place. Had the sentencing magistrate been better trained, or simply more sensitive, they would have been handed a community sentence and stood a chance of getting the healthcare they needed (though, considering the underfunding of mental health services, not a very strong chance).
I really, really don’t think we need more sensitive magistrates. The ones we have are already as wet as the ocean.
Wandsworth prison four years ago was a huge success story of modern jailcraft – it had a flagship education system, award-winning sex offender rehabilitation programmes and responsive, highly trained prison officers. In 2010 it had 427 officers; this June it had 260, to manage 1,634 prisoners. Four men have killed themselves since the beginning of the year.
Well, fewer crims means fewer staff needed!
One appalling detail is that all deaths have shot up, even deaths from illness. Heart attacks that needn’t be fatal are, because there aren’t the staffing levels to get people to hospital in time. … It would be instructive for Grayling to go into a prison in the days after a suicide, or on the day of the funeral. The staff are destroyed by these events.
Really? Were staff in floods of tears when Fred West topped himself? Frankly, that ought to be a sackable offence!
This is what prisons look like when the political rhetoric is all about the victim, and the criminal is relevant only insofar as he or she is seen to get their just deserts.
Yup, those wretched victims of crime, wanting their pound of flesh, eh, Zoe?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

One reason for the recent sudden increase in prison population is an influx of mainly old men (often needing special facilities) for dubious historic sex cases.

Given that The Guardian has been particularly keen on doing away with the old-fashioned idea that you might need corroborating evidence (or even a coherent, plausible story) rather than just an accusation decades after the "event", it's a bit rich to see them complaining about prison conditions, largely caused by over-population, now.

MTG said...

It is not easy to take a broader view and spurn those savage natural inclinations which lean towards harsh deprivation and corporal punishment. The economic basis alone makes rehabilitation through properly administered community sentences, highly attractive.

The problem to date is the perception of 'community sentencing' as an easy option. And it will remain so until these schemes are properly administered and combined with motivation and training.

staybryte said...

Curse those insensitive magistrates! Thank the Lord this one showed the appropriate mercy, compassion and sensitivity!

I mean, those howling savages who read the tabloids would probably have wanted these two sent to prison.

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/mans-jaw-broken-attack-two-7794197

Anonymous said...

I think criminals should be treated leniently, except lawnmower thieves. What do you think Melvin?
Jaded.

PS crime isn't coming down,it's a big lie and you are all falling for it. Think who benefits from the massaging of figures? The government- who are pretending to be tough on crime and then cutting police numbers to the bone. Just in time for mass privatisation.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Ken Clarke made genuine efforts to reduce prison numbers; XX

Henry and Albert Pierrepoint were EXCELLENT at doing that!

Furor Teutonicus said...

... and Thomas Pierrepoint was not bad, either.

Ian Hills said...

William Marwood showed great "sensitivity" when he invented the variable drop. Before then many crims had their heads torn off, or slowly strangled.

MTG said...

@ WC Jaded

That particular theft obliged me to rethink my gardening schedule, dear.

I put a spade to work on weekends but I could still use a hoe if it interests you.

The Stigler said...

The weird thing is that in my 20s I thought I was a bleeding heart liberal with regards to crime. 20 years later, I'm not without changing my views much.

I still believe that the thing of getting arrested is a massive deterrent. Community service also works for a lot of crime. I wouldn't want to see a burglar locked up for their first crime. I'm soft enough to even think 2nd time. But 3rd time? Well, community service isn't working, is it?

And if we're locking people up, why isn't work being done on their mental health? We spend £47K on imprisoning someone, what the fuck are we spending that on?

andy5759 said...

Just as long as your hoe is not a spade. I'll get me coat.

Flaxen Saxon said...

I hear they are allowed tele's in their en suite apartments these days. Perhaps this is part of the punishment, judging from the usual fare on the goggle box.

Anonymous said...

No clues, Andy. The double entendre should pass over the target's head.

Anonymous said...

Just put them in stocks: they can't pursue their careers while there and it brings the prison numbers down: gives them a chance for care in the community.

Greencoat said...

Let's just cut to the chase: set the criminals free and put their victims in prison.

That OK with you, Zoe dear?

JuliaM said...

"... an influx of mainly old men (often needing special facilities) for dubious historic sex cases."

Surely there hasn't been that many yet?

"The economic basis alone makes rehabilitation through properly administered community sentences, highly attractive."

I hear this a lot, but what happened to the old adage of not throwing good money after bad?

"...would probably have wanted these two sent to prison."

I plead guilty, m'lud!

"PS crime isn't coming down,it's a big lie and you are all falling for it."

I must remember to put the /sarc tag in next time...

JuliaM said...

"Henry and Albert Pierrepoint were EXCELLENT at doing that!"

Heh!

"But 3rd time? Well, community service isn't working, is it?"

No, it isn't. What's that definition of insanity again?

"Perhaps this is part of the punishment, judging from the usual fare on the goggle box."

:D

"Let's just cut to the chase: set the criminals free and put their victims in prison.

That OK with you, Zoe dear?"


I think, frighteningly enough, it just might be...