Tuesday, 8 December 2009

BEN'S PRISON BL0G: Reconstructing Truth

I'm a big fan of Ben's Prison Blog and this post stands out as one of his best. He manages to combine an objective knowledge of the prison system, a subjective appreciation of what actually happens and a nicely cynical attitude towards the media's treatment of offenders. All written in an easy to read and well thought out style:
After several months of working out in the community for 4 days a week (unpaid, argh!), we can apply for home leave. These can last up to five days at a stretch. Don't be deceived by the "home leave" description. Rather than putting our feet up in front of the fire at home, cold beer in one hand and hot woman in the other, the reality is that we are forced to go to probation hostels...

As is standard these days, the Telegraph even found a "victims campaigner" to pitch in. Lyn Costello of Mothers Against Murder And Aggression (as opposed to all those mothers campaigning for butchery and mayhem), complains about these "holidays". She used that exact word. You can see what happened; the Telegraph phoned her, read her a paragraph with the key words - killers, rapists, holidays - and like a defective one armed bandit she spat them a quote straight back...

As one reads deeper into the story it becomes clear what this is really about. The figures for the number of prisoners having these "holidays" were released by the Conservative Party. Their mouthpiece, Dominic Grieve, is arguing that this all stinks of Labour incompetence. Whilst in favour of these temporary releases for long-termers to ease the transition into the community, Grieve is claiming that they are being let out solely to ease the prison overcrowding.

I assume Dominic Grieve is a reasonably bright chap, so I will explain to him why he is wrong. When a man goes on home leave, his cell remains empty. He moves straight back in on his return. It is not the case that an Open prison with 50 men on home leave will ship in 50 prisoners to fill those beds for the 4 days they are empty. It is clear to even the dumbest politico that these home leave releases have absolutely no effect on overcrowding, they are not connected in any way whatever. None. Zilch. Zero. Grieve may know this, but he should know it - he should have checked...
Click here for more: BEN'S PRISON BL0G: Reconstructing Truth

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Thanks for sharing that! Empirical reality confronts political anxieties....very nice.

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