September 2014

Hello Friend,
Following on from my comment last month on the violence at HMP Wakefield-there was yet another serious assault. This time it was on the exercise yard with at least 6 assailants attacking one prisoner. The fact that this prisoner is one of the biggest guys in here was of little consequence. It appears no one is safe from this gang problem.
I’ve been attempting to find out how much public money is spent on prison psychology and their Offending Behaviour Programms (OBPs)/ My own anecdotal evidence tells me that it has been a financial white elephant. In other words, the results don’t justify the costs. I’ve made 2 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the budget allocated by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to provide prison based psychology services for each year from 2003 and to date. The MOJ responded by saying that this information is not held centrally and they would have to contact 104 prisons. Consequently, it would cost them over £600 to comply with my request. Due to the prohibitative costs, they use Section 12 (1) of the FOIA to exempt them from providing me with the requested information.
So what they appear to be saying is that non one in the MOJ knows from year to year how much public money is spent on these expensive services. Consequently, the MOJ would not be able to commission a cost/result analysis to determine the effectiveness (or otherwise) of prison psychology. Or, maybe they just don’t want anyone to have budget information.
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I will be writing about the inadequacies and failings of prison psychology, particularly for those of us that have been wrongfully convicted. For now, check out the new PRISON PSYCHOLOGY page in the PRISON LIFE section.

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On a more positive note, there’s a music course here (Improvement Through Music) which allows prisoners to learn about playing and performing in a group situation. At the end of the course they put on a concert. This time over 70 prisoners and staff attended. It was really enjoyable to be in the audience, who made their equally positive feelings known. There was some great original material which was of a very high standard.
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Finally, I’ve posted some song lyrics I wrote in early 2004. Putting to one side my then typically doom-laden themes, there is a couplet that resonates greatly in my life:
“Just for a while a ray of light appears
She has a smile that evanesce his fears”

This sums up how powerful the right smile from the right person can be and how this small gesture can replace pain and doubt with joy and hope. So keep smiling…………….

Be happy, be safe, see you next time. Graham Coutts, 21st October 2014

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