I agree with Hurd’s statement above and the Tory Justice Sec. Ken Clarke on prison reform today and: I also agree with the Scottish Justice Minister the SNP’s Ken. McAskill’s decision on short sentencing; there’s a collector’s item for you but; I must explain.
The Tories are so anxious to cut costs that they will hold their noses and give Clarke who is an archetypal one nation Tory and a social liberal free reign to revamp the prison system; had money been washing around they would lock up even more people. Clarke sees his chance by dangling huge cuts in expenditure by saving on prisons – the big risk is that it will fail when massive service cuts and huge rises in unemployment cause rises in crime. The very same applies to the idiot McAskill and the SNP they hide behind a veil of liberal reform because they are desperate to save money; they are acting from expediency. The Scottish Tories are the only ones who can be trusted to tell the truth on this matter; they are the same horde of hangers and floggers as they always were and they don’t give a F**k who knows it. The Libdems as always don’t count; they will go with the biggest backhander.
That brings me to the Labour Party; my own Party, today in Westminster and Holyrood we swapped sides with the Tories and the SNP and became the reactionaries on this topic; Labour and the Scottish Tories chose to run with the hangers and floggers because they think it’s a vote winner despite knowing in our case at least that it is wrong; practically and morally. The English Tories and the SNP lied as well but; for different reasons namely money.
It costs more to keep someone in prison for a year £38,000 than it does to send a boy to Eton; the fact that Eton is a more Spartan regime is little comfort to the tax payer while a cursory glance at the Govt. front bench reveals the harm that Eton and other similar institutions can do to someone. Over the years I have despaired at the behaviour of the likes of Michael Howard; Edwina Curry and the shameful Ann Widdicombe as well as Jack Straw and various Labour home secretaries. All competing to be tougher than each other’s opponents; all dancing to the melody played by the editorials of rags like The Sun and The News of the World.
Prison numbers will rise to approx. 104,000 before the next General Election. 80% of these prisoners suffer from 2 or more mental conditions for which they are not being treated; reoffending rates among the 60,000 prisoners given short sentences has reached 60% and rising. The stats are horrendous and we still stick to the old discredited ways of retribution, giving a delinquent 6 months is only part of it; more often than not the prisoner loses his/her job; house and often their family “welcome to freedom” it’s a sick joke.
David Cameron today claimed it was all the responsibility of the last Labour Govt. a contemptible display of partisan evasion; the Labour Party is approx. 100 years old David; the youngest of the 3 main parties and the prison system is hundreds of years old most of those years ruled by the Tories; Whigs and Liberals; go read Oliver Twist or look at a Hogarth painting to see the society which they ran; that appalling society was changed by the Levellers; the Tolpuddle Martyrs; The Unions and The Labour Party.
I will finish on another massive scandal which is delicate to say the least but it nags incessantly at me. The largest homogeneous group in our prison system consists of ex Army and Navy personnel; by the next General Election they will number approx. 10,000. The reason for the delicacy? These prisoners do not it would seem fit the description of our brave soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan do they? I do not object to people praising any soldier who is injured or killed in the course of their duty but; I am sickened at the brazen duplicity of the establishment and the armed forces who calculatingly sweep this inexcusable situation under the carpet. I will not hold my breath waiting for the politician of any party to say “our personnel fighting abroad are the bravest of the brave; unlike the rabble of low degree from our armed forces who are in jail” they wouldn’t have the guts would they? It would not fit the propaganda machine. Nor will I lose sleep waiting for that politician or indeed the recruiting sergeant to say “Join up and serve your country, make everyone proud of you but remember, you might end up an alcoholic, a druggie; a rough sleeper, a vagrant or doing time in prison” Because that would be facing up to the horrid truth which is that your country, and the armed forces are not actually all that interested in you once they are finished with you.
After the first world war “the armless; the legless; the blind and insane” to borrow from Eric Bogle were left to beg on the streets and we haven’t made all that much progress since have we? How’s that for dishonour; think about it the next time you see one of those big jingoistic parades and think of the hypocrites who dine out on them. I told you this was delicate but; I feel a lot better for saying it; it’s a massive wrong which has to be sorted; stop the lies right? Having been in a few prisons I know what I am talking about; in jail they are not hard to spot they walk upright and they are neat and tidy as a rule with a pride in their appearance and demeanour but, damaged, badly badly damaged.
We can make a start on this by keeping tabs on the ones who leave the forces and by making sure they are coping or does that sound too much like a bleeding heart Socialist?