After 14 ½ years in prison, I’m still a Category A prisoner. This is nothing to do with my risk levels, which, bar one, are all “low“. The one that isn’t low is opinion based and a result of the conviction. The reason I’m still a Cat A is purely because of the blind faith the MoJ, prison service and probation have with psychology.
Every Cat A review I get says the same thing (cut and paste mentality). The last knock back said:
“The Cat A Team accepted that denial of guilt and non-participation in any direct offence focused work should not, by themselves, be a bar to a downgrading of security category [this they have to say as, legally, they cannot use this to prevent a prisoner from progressing], however, the Category A Team had to proceed on the basis that you had been lawfully convicted of the present offence and your lack of insight into your offending did not assist in assessing whether the risk of you re-offending in a similar way if unlawfully at large had materially diminished.”
Oh, I have so much to say about this: firstly, one of the lowest risk groups (risk of ‘re-offending’) are prisoners who claim they are innocent of the offence/s that they have been convicted of. These are prisoners who the Cat A Review Team (CART) would claim ’lack insight’ and then use it to support their decision not to downgrade them on the basis that their risk had not diminished. Yet, they will downgrade prisoners who do not deny their guilt; prisoners who have a higher rate of recidivism. So, how have they ended up in such an illogical and, frankly, incompetent position. It’s the blind faith with psychology.
Psychology say that prisoners need to understand why they committed an offence in order to develop strategies to prevent any further offences. Sounds credible, right? Yet, the guys who go through their courses and develop this insight, and strategies to manage risk, do not have markedly lower risk of recidivism; and a higher rate if they’ve been on the SOTP course! Despite these facts, the CART still maintain their position. It is really like the blind leading the blind. How are these people still employed?
The most damaging aspect of this is that they are continuing to hold prisoners who are not a risk purely on the basis that they cannot or will not do offence related courses. Courses that have proven, time and time again, to be ineffective in reducing recidivism. There are thousands of prisoners who could be rebuilding their lives, relationships and contributing positively to society who are not getting this opportunity because of the CART’s refusal to admit they have been getting it wrong for the past 20+ years. They are now so entrenched in their position that to admit their negligence now would lead to dismissals and legal liability. In the meantime, thousands of prisoners and their families continue to suffer as hostages of a system which is failing society.
Also, did you note that the CART only assess “risk of re-offending…if unlawfully at large”? In other words, they are only assessing the risk if the prisoner escapes or absconds. This prison, like other Cat A prisons, is a high-security prison. There has been no escapes from high-security since the 1990s. If prisoners who have financial and criminal resources are unable to escape, how can prisoners who have neither do it? The answer is simple, they can’t. As it would be impossible for me to be unlawfully at large, the whole process is an absurd waste of time and is constructed purely to force prisoners to do psychology courses which have been proven to be of no value to the prisoner, recidivism and society as a whole.
This prison houses not only Cat A prisoners but also Cat B and some Cat C prisoners who are waiting to be transferred. So, it is impossible to be downgraded to a Cat B prisoner but still held in high-security conditions. Plus, there is next to no difference in how a Cat A prisoner is treated when compared to a Cat B prisoner. You have some extra night-time checks, more cell searches and a more secure escort when being transferred. It’s actually just as likely, if not more so, that a Cat B prisoner will be motivated to escape or abscond, or be violent. Their computer-based risk levels may even be higher than a Cat A.
This system is outdated and open to abuse. Human beings are dying in here because of the Cat A system and there blind obedience to prison psychologists; the 21st century version of snake-oil salesmen/women.
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 22nd October 2017