Saturday, 1 January 2011

Hard Time?

Now I have a bone to pick with our prison system. It is quite a large one, so I shall start off with a little taster of what is to come. An upstanding member of society, one Ashley Burt, a convicted mugger from Bristol, is demanding compensation from HM Government for losing £1000 of property during a cell move.

Now his grievance appears to hold some water - a perusal of his complaint suggests he wasn't allowed to move his belongings when moved by the authorities and when he returned they were gone. He claims he was then told he should not have abandoned them, despite not having an option. This is not my point though - I am sure there is every chance proper procedure was not followed and he is now entitled to some form of compensation. The authorities after all were most likely Government employees, and they aren't all necessarily as sharp as they might be.

My point is, how on earth does he have £1000 worth of personal belongings in prison? An X-Box no doubt, and a nice little flat screen tv? That's £500 I suppose, then what? My point is, if you said I had to go and live in a camp somewhere I might be a little upset, but if you added that I would be allowed £1000 of possessions I would be over the moon. It certainly kicks the one luxury on desert island discs into the long grass.

Prison is meant to serve several purposes: it should keep dangerous people away from the public; it should offer rehabilitation from criminality and substance abuse; but importantly, it should also penalise the prisoner. The last purpose is not inhumane, unfair or counterproductive - it is important - if prison is fun, not only does the offender not mind going and so will probably reoffend, but it serves as no deterrent to any other would-be criminal. This much is obvious to all but the most closed minded tree-huggering liberals. The justice and prison system needs a long hard look, and as with student fees, the Government should not start with how much money they have and therefore decide how many criminals we can afford to imprison and for how long. That is no way to make policy, but you get the idea that's what they're doing...

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