Prisoner, heal thyself

July 1, 2010 at 9:21 am | Posted in Prison Reform | 4 Comments

As the convergence of Labour and the Tory right on prison reform continues, David Green writes:

Above all, the Coalition does not accept the fundamental liberal precept that we should be seen as free individuals, each responsible for our own actions. Criminals are not patients being treated by the ‘therapeutic state’, they are free people who made the wrong choice. Ironically the Lib-Dems are the main obstacle to a genuinely liberal approach based on personal responsibility, an approach that should be the heart of policy on crime as well as the renewal of civil society implied by the Big-Society agenda. The big danger for the Coalition Government is that adopting Lib-Dem policies will lead to an increase in crime when we already have enough problems to cope with.

First off, quit whingeing about the Liberal Democrats and spinning this as a regrettable consequence of coalition politics. Penal reform is a Conservative policy, written in Conservative pre-election policy documents by Conservative policymakers and espoused by Conservative politicians. If the ‘prison works’ coalition really wishes to shake off the stench of progress, they should go and join UKIP. Or Labour.

Next, it’s a feat of heroic myopia to contend that criminals are just ‘free people who made the wrong choice’, as if they entered the criminal justice system unemcumbered by any disabling influences on their lives.

Around 50% of prisoners ran away from home as a child and 27% were taken into care. 30% truanted from school, 49% of men were excluded and 52% left without any qualifications. 65% of prisoners have the numeracy levels of 11-year olds, 48% have the reading age of 11-year-olds and 67% were unemployed before imprisonment. 32% of prisoners were homeless, over 70% suffer from two or more mental disorders and around 60% had abused drugs in the past year (Bromley Briefings, p20).

The people entering our prison systems did make bad choices; they failed themselves, their families and their communities. Most people in our prisons are deserving of a period of incarceration. But they were also failed themselves. They were failed by their own families, by their communities, by their schools and by their state, and now find themselves caught up in a cycle of offending and incarceration which is difficult to break even with the help & support that’s currently on offer.

To suggest that it’s possible for these people to simply rehabilitate themselves without assistance from the state which locked them up suggests either complete ignorance of the problems in society or a stubborn refusal to see prison as anything more than a warehouse for human waste. In that sense, the ‘prison works’ coalition is one of the more craven and nasty groups in modern mainstream politics.



RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Word perfect. Bravo.

    • High praise indeed, Graham. Thanks.

    • And of course, I meant ‘Graeme’.

      I’ll put it down to blogging rustiness!

  2. If some one wishes expert view on the topic of blogging after that i suggest him/her to pay
    a quick visit this weblog, Keep up the nice job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: