Christians can play a vital role in prisons

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My book, A LIFE OF SENTENCES has been and is being promoted as a book about prisons and crime which is understandable given the publicity and promotional material the publishers have put out. In way am I criticising that but really that is not what the book is about.
Far more importantly it is a book about Christianity and how faith saw me serve those sentences leading to an eventual recommitting myself to the Lord and in passing anyone who reads the book will realise just what an important role the chaplaincy teams have and how much the system can be improved by the adoption of Christian principles.
Some wonderful work is already being done by the chaplaincy teams and by organisations like Prison Fellowship but there is always room for more.
As a starting point we must look at ourselves and accept right at the outset that as god Christians we can’t be judgmental, we must treat everyone, prisoner or not, as an individual and show through our actions that we love them in a real Christian sense. It isn’t easy sometimes. I remember when I was a Listener in Lincoln Prison I was sometimes called upon to help guys who had committed bad offences and ineitably was asked by others how I found it possible to do so.
The answer is really quite simple, I am not in a position to judge any man and I can honestly say that I treated everyone as an individual no matter what.
If we are to be good Christians it isn’t part of our remit to go about judging others, we must love everyone equally no matter what or who they are.
Once we can genuinely and sincerely cross that barrier life will be so much easier. We will be misunderstood, of that there is no doubt but we must be encouraged know ing that what we are doing is right.

My book A LIFE OF SENTENCES out now in paperback from amazon.co.uk or from the publishers olympiapublishers.com

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LINCOLN OVERCROWDING

A new open report by Peter Wright, Governor of Lincoln Prison will next week be presented to Lincolnshire County Council’s Public safety Committee. In it Mr Wright will say that his prison is understaffed by 42%. He cites a number of very positive developments over the last twelve months in parts of the prison, details of which I will post later but the point once again is just how long can the public sector go on being squeezed before it breaks?

ANOTHER PRISON SUICIDE

Yet another suicide at Elmley Prison and so it goes on and on. When is MoJ going to admit they are not fit for purpose and are totally responsible for what is happening.
I have worked for a long period of time as a Listener in prison, Lincoln actually and I know that we will NEVER stop suicide totally but does that mean we have to constantly see levels rising when they should be falling.
Things can be done and especially with planning for the future prison estate and changing this stupid tory plan for giant prison warehouse factories.
Get real, just for once think about people not profit.
Wake up and use the next six months positively because you can be sure you won’t be able to do anything after next May, people may be apathetic but they are not stupid and slowly, very slowly those who have a vote to cast are getting used to Tory lies.
The truth about prison suicides, read my book A LIFE OF SENTENCES available now from amazon.co.uk or the publisher olympiapublishers.com

FAILING GRAYLING AND HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

What a damp squib! Not one really searching question throughout the whole proceedings and answers from Failing which belong in a comic book and certainly not in a Parliamentary Committee. When and where is this farce which is MoJ going to end. Let’s hope that after the election next year Labour appoint a Justice Minister who doesn’t wander around in rose coloured glasses.
I’m getting really tired of constantly banging on about all the problems in the prison system but what else can we do when nothing is being done where it should be (MoJ) not only to put things right but even to acknowledge what is happening in the first place.
In all areas of rehabilitation we are told that the first step is to acknowledge that we have a problem, MoJ and its cronies won’t even do that.
Grayling states there is no problem with suicides in prison and they can all be easily explained away. Try telling that to the families who have lost loved ones in such tragic circulatances, and sure as night follows day the incidence of such tragedies will increase drastically if something doesn’t happen to stop MoJ/Grayling/Selous in their tracks.
Giant superprisons don’t work, have never worked and will never work and said centre for children and young people even more so.
As I’ve said so many times, prisoners are people, individuals who need treating as such and until we learn to care for everyone no matter who they are or what they’ve done nothing will change.
People must be put before profits in all aspects of social care.

SUPERSIZE PRISON FOR BOYS AT GLEN PARVA

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

PROBLEMS WITH PRISONS

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!!!!!!!!!!

PRISON REFORMS, LESS TALKING, MORE ACTION NEEDED

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!!