We all know that MoJ just don’t listen to common sense nor to anyone other than the Tory beneficiaries of penal affairs contracts but surely even they must acknowledge the sheer stupidity of this latest fantasy project.
Anyone with an ounce of intelligence must realise that the most vital element of any rehabilitative programme is to get the offender to relate to some form of mentor. Young children in particular need an anchor and this just can’t happen in a giant offender factory.
What is really needed are small localised units whre everyone knows everyone else and where a common trust can develop. Children need to see the same faces everyday to help them feel secure and cared for, this cannot ever happen in giant offender factories.
This proposed new establishment will lead to a very sharp increase in suicides and self harm a legacy which we, as a civilised society should be ashamed of.
Stats from the existing YOI at Glen Parva already show this is the case, why are MoJ so blind and out of touch, Failing Grayling must go, Andrew Selous must go, David Cameron must go, Theresa May must go. Only then maybe some common sense will prevail but we, as a society, have to show our feelings instead of sitting back and letting this happen.
For honest sories from the British prison system read my new book A LIFE OF SENTENCES, out now in paperback from all good book shops or online from Amazon.co.uk or the publisher olympiapublishers.com price £8.99
As we all, apart from Failing Grayling, know,there is a deep crisis with the whole penal system bought about by many factors which have come into play over the years and exacerbated by the total failure of the currect MoJ. Sadly, my own feelings are that the system is so unfit for purpose that there isn’t a one off solution. To make any change will call for radical changes in both approach and practice.
Initially there are two basic questions which must be answered before anything can be done.
Firstly we must define what prison is there for. No one working in the system has any idea what the answer to that question is. Obviously if those running the system have no clear idea of why they are running the system they can make no progress.
Again my opinion is that before we try any kind of reforms we must answer that question.
To do that we have to get rid of any preconceived ideas or theories and start again from the beginning. This will only work if we get away from giant superprisons and return to an era of small local prison communities where progress can be made.
We have to determine, with input from the judiciary, why a particular offender is sent to custody. Is it for punishment, prevention or rehabilitation? It can’t be for all three. Having determined that these small local prisons must be set up to deal exclusively with one of those aspects and not be generic. Only in that way can we hope to make any positive progress.
At the same time we must get rid of the present MoJ dogma and start putting people before profist and look at the bigger picture. Every prisoner is an individual with individual components and must be treated as such. Can you imagine the result if all patients admitted to a hospital were instead of being diagnosed were treated in exactly the same way although each has an individual medical problem? It just defies thinking about and so it is with the individuals who make up the prison population!!!!!!!!!!
Just heard yet another damning repot is due out tomorrow, this time its Hewell Grange in the West Midlands and already the campaigners are spouting about it and how they are doing media interviews about it. That is not what is needed, all the talk and conferences in the world will achieve nothing other than highlight the various campaigning groups. What is needed is for all you individul groups to pay less attention to empire building and your own agendas and start working together to come up with a course of action.
Some hope though, as an ex prisoner back in the early nineties I tried to launch a small group to support prisoners and ex prisoners. This was based on years in custody when I had constantly helped and mentored my fellow inmates and that is a matter of public record.
All I met were obstructions and abuse.
The local probation service at the time (Lincolnshire) went on record in the local newspaper the Lincolnshire Echo stating that I was doing what I was for my own glorification and that there was no need for any support, the probation service could manage quite well thank you.
At the same time I was involved in some civil proceedings, totally unrelated, (which I won) and as part of the case in a statement I was accused by NACRO of stealing one of their best clients, I ask you how can anyone steal a client? And I can obtain documentary proof of all I have just said.
Really just examples of what is wrong with these groups, they want to ‘own’clients rather than doing what is the best for them.
They must get rid of this empire building mentality and work together if they are going to achieve anything.
I am also tired of reading reports of some of the leaders of these groups spouting forth about prisons when the only time they have seen inside a prison is as a visitor and visitors don’t see the reality.
My book A Life of Sentences which is out now and tells the truth about what it is like, really like, in prison. It is available now from the publisher olympiapublishers.com or from Amazon.co.uk price 8.99. Has a 5 star reader review which says he would recommend that every resident in the penal system in the UK should be made to read it and he is a former magistrate!!
Another huge rise in the suicide rates in prisons reported. Sadly this will continue to rise. The report claims that there is only anecdotal evidence that reduction of staffing is responsible in any way.
The crisis in the system is definitely responsible for a large number of these events. Staff are being squeezed to a level where, through no fault of their own they are just not fit for purpose. Given that and the totally outdated procedures for detecting and dealing with those at risk there is an inevitability that incidents are going to continue to be more and more regular.
A radical approach is called for firstly accepting that the problem will never be irradicated. Once that point is reached . new kind of approach must be put into force. There is no longer any provision for dealing with prisoner welfare in our prison system.
Over the years the probation service has become nothing more within the prison as a form filling extension of the court service. It is virtually impossible for a prisoner to see a probation officer on a face to face basis (lack of resources again) and when they do they are made to realise it is not the job of the probation officer to help with welfare problems.
In some prisons the Chaplaincy team become the safety net, and often a very effective one but again that team, in every prison and yoi in the country is woefully under resourced.
The Listener system is also very effective if it is allowed to operate freely and thrive but that is a very bi if in these austere times.
The main area where the addressing of self harm is without doubt in the area of prisoner mentoring but to do that properly needs extensive resources to identify and train mentors, it also needs a sympathetic approach from the staff throughout the establishment. It is highly radical and needs a huge groundswell of change but done properly it would be extremely effective and would become less and less expensive to run as it becomes established.
In my recently published book, A LIFE OF SENTENCES which available in paperback from Amazon or the publishers olympiapublishers.com I talk quite extensively about the Listener scheme as one who has experienced it and mentored many guys through it and I argue without any fear of contradication the the most effective way forward in this very sensitive subject is through using prisoner mentors.
The post below is an extract from my book A LIFE OF SENTENCES out now and available from all good book shops or on line from Amazon.co.uk or Olympia Publishers. This extract appears in the Winter newsletter from Prison Phoenix Trust.
“When I received my last sentence, those two and a half years turned out to be the beginning of something far bigger than I could ever have imagined. Despite having vowed in 1974 that I would never enter a church again , I accepted a job as chapel orderly, as I had a strong personal faith, though I didn’t feel in any way a Christian”
To read the truly inspiring story of what followed read the book.