2019 – 65 – politics

Politics (Trump 2.0)

Hello friend,

Boris bloomin’ Johnson… well, he wouldn’t be my choice – not if you want to save the human race. However, I want to talk about one thing only – longer prison sentences. Let’s put to one side Johnson’s obvious ‘tough on crime’ electioneering and look at what it means to society.

I have been inside for a long time (16 1/2 years) with a long time left (9 1/2 years). I’ve crossed path many guys who haved served 20+ years, even 30+ years. I’ve seen first hand the impact this has on the human mind. Many of these guys are like ghosts. They are still being held in the high-security estate with little hope of life after prison – if they are even alive at the point of release.Mental health problems are rife in this type of environment.

The longer you spend in prison, the smaller your your outside support nework becomes – people die, people draw away and move on with their lives. An outside support network is what they call a ‘protective factor’ for recidivism. Longer sentences promote mental health problems, fewer ‘protective factors’ and result in higher recidivism. How does this have any worth for the prisoner or for a civilised society?

Longer sentences also create more overcrowding and the warehousing of prisoners. This country cannot cope with the current levels. Overcrowding then leads to prisoner on prisoner and prisoner on staff violence. This can only end with more prisons having to deal with rioting. Violence will end up with prisoners being further dehumanised, which will lead to more violence… and the cycle continues.

Longer sentences also destroy family units and destabilises entire communities. These are the communities most at risk. Without the family unit, that type of environment preys on vulnerable children and draws them into criminal activities. Crime will not go down – it will increase massively. You only have to look at the USA to see the result of longer sentencing. Does it work there? No. So, why will it work here? It won’t.

The new Prisons Minister, Robert Buckland QC, proposes a raft of improvements. He says: “I have seen the trends. I have seen what works. I’ve also seen what doesn’t work.” Platitudes. There one thing that doesn’t work – prison. I know, that’s a controversial statement to make but after hundreds of years of prison and hundreds of different failed experiments, is it not about time we came up with a different model? I’m not purporting to have the solution but why keep going down the same roads – on virtually every level, prison doesn’t work.

Ernest Drucher likens mass incarceration to a plague – I agree.

Be happy, be safe and kind.
Graham Coutts, 27th October 2019

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