In my book A LIFE OF SENTENCES publsihed recently by Olympia Publishers I cite many examples of financial waste by Pison Industries.
Foremost amongst these occurred when I was serving a sentence at Ashwell. The powers that be decided to set up a storekeeping course. Having spent £50,000 on a high tech fork lift they then appointed two men to run the course.
At this stage for whatever reason those same powers that be decided to pull the plug on the course. Howeverthe two men who were supposed to be running it were on contract and couldn’t be removed.
The result was that for just over two years both men attended the prison daily and simply sat around doing nothing other than making tea and for that onerous task hey were paid full time top level salaries. The above is a statement of fact. This and many more similar wastages are amongst the strange facts about the prison system detailed in the book which is available from all good book shops or online from the publishers at olympiapublishers.com price 8.99. It is also available from Amazon.
A remarkable article intodays Guardian quoting the outgoing Chairman of the Prison Governors Association commenting on the dangerously low staff levels in our prisons.
Sadly very little coverage elsewhere. As usual risons and prisoners right at the bottom of the agenda. When will society wake up and realise that prisoners are people who for one reason or another have come into conflict with the law but they are still people and deserve to be treated as such.
I know, as I say in my book A Life of Sentences which is out now and available from Amazon or the publishers Olympiapublishers.com or in all od book shops, all my adult life I was in conflict with the law not because of what I was doing but because once convicted aged 16 years no one saw fit to forgive or try and understand. I desperately sought help on so many occasions simply to be ignored. It wasn’t until above thirty years later that a prison chaplain, to whom I shall be forever indebted, looked beyond the paperwork and treated me as a person that things turned around for me.
We, as a caring society have to change our perceptions and look at prisoners as a person, not just a number or a case.
There are some truly wonderful organisations trying to break down the barriers and we really need to help and encourage where we can but all their efforts will come to nought if we don’t start and look at offenders differently. I am not making light of offences, there are some truly horrendous crimes comitted but even those crimes are committed by a person not a virtual being. If we are ever to make any positive changes we must treat all prisoners as individuals not just one of a generic group pigeon holed as a prisoner.
I know that will never happen, prisoners don’t equal votes so it is easier for the politicians to ignore them indeed use them to create profits but without a fundamental change in attitudes nothing will change!!
Over the past few days headlines have been circulated on the net accrediting me with saying that prison isn’t as terrible as we are led to believe. That is very much an over simplification and I’d like to take this opportunity to set the records straight.
What I actually said was that the negative experience of prison can be turned into a positive experience with the right level of positive thinking and action.
From a purely physical point of view of course prison is terrible, to be cooped up in a small cell for up to 23 hours a day cannot be justified at all and a great number of our older prisons could acureatly be described as very unpleasant as can the routines in many of them but as with so many things in life things are what you make them. You don’t have to live in a dirty cell, you can clean what is around you. You can take part in activities of various kinds to improve you own situation. You can keep yourself clean and tidy. It might seem obvious but there are ways of self improving despite Chris Grayling stopping books in prison and all his other wonderful non practical restrictions.
Those in the community who have no experience of what it’s like in prison form their opinions based on what they see on tv. That would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that most prisons we see are from the US and there is no similarity whatsoever (although if Grayling and his profit motivated chronies have their way things could move in that direction very quickly).
The very first step must be one of attitude by those in charge, they have to move away from profit motivated to people motivated. I have over the years spoken to, and more importantly listened to men in prison who have committed the whole range of crimes, from murder through to child sex offences to burglary and fraud and everything in between and without exception lurking behind those offences is a sad and confused man, not a monster as some would have us believe. I am not condoning their offending nor am I critcising their sentences judgments like that are for other people to make what I am suggesting is that before we can have any hope of helping the man we must strip away the decoration. Hard as it might seem we must not allow the offences to cloud our approach. As a caring society we must take a holistic approach to dealing with the man and we cannot allow weak prejudices to influence our actions.
When oh when are society going to wake up and see what is happening not only in the prison system but in all the social services. At the Tory conference this week yet again the Chancellor is stating his intentions to destroy our onceworld envied welfare state. I don’t see anywhere where he plans to tax all these private contractors who are gradually taking over all our public services with one motive and one motive alone, increased profits.
Wlfare services, any welfare services mustalways put people before profits which is why privatisation doesn’t work and never will.
Andjust one other point, I see from the papers that White Dee from Channel $ Benefits Street has been speaking at the Tory conference and calling for benefits to be lowered. Have you ever seen or heard anything more hypocritical? This woman is doing more harm to the country which carried her for so long before she became famous it defies belief. Then again, it is the Tory conference, I dont suppose we can expect anything else.