Friday, April 25, 2008

Cushy UK Prisons: Europe's New "No-Go Zones"?

Breakfast in bed, tv, cash perks for good behavior... the age of Newgate Prison is definitely over. I wonder what Elizabeth Fry would think?

If "life in British prisons is so comfortable that inmates have given up trying to escape", as the British media reports today, then that is scandal enough, but if the prisons are so understaffed that sections of them are now "no-go zones" for police, surely that is the far more troublesome revelation.

Yet, it is passed over like a pebble at the bottom of the Thames.

Was it just hyperbole on Glyn Travis' part, or have the good people of Great Britain become so shell-shocked by their collapsing country that they can only handle one nightmare at a time..?

(Video of the story here):

"We have got no-go areas in certain prisons because prisoners have got complete control. There is not sufficient staff, there is no interaction between staff," [Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association] told BBC radio.

"We have got a serious crisis in our prisons today, but unfortunately prisons are not a vote-winner, so we are a soft target for the government to force its fiscal policy on public servants." Travis said intruders had entered the low-security Everthorpe jail in Yorkshire, northern England, by scaling a wall using ladders and he said cases had been uncovered of prostitutes entering open prison to service inmates.
"These were prisoners who have a history of escaping from lawful custody, and the prisoners did not take the opportunity or plan to escape because, we believe, life is so cushy in the prison system," he said.
Travis blamed the problems in jails on chronic under-staffing. "We have got a massive shortfall of staff. We are 1,000 prison officers short across the country.
"There is a serious recruitment problem," he said.

Sky News adds some details from Mr. Travis' account, suggesting that UK prisons may not be "no-go zones" as far as fellow criminals are concerned:

"Members of the public were climbing over the prison wall to take drugs into prison," he said.

"They had a ladder on the opposite side of the wall and prisoners were so comfortable in the environment they were living in, that none of the prisoners tried to climb up the ladder and escape.

"Now, to me that says there's something wrong in society when people are breaking into prisons to bring drugs and prostitutes, and the prisoners are quite happy to stay in our prisons."


truepeers said...

The welfare state totally rationalized and revealed!

Dag said...

Some years ago I was living with a girlfriend in a camp at the end of the world and she wasn't too happy about it, life having come to a crashing catastrophe for her and damned near everyone else, normalcy going out the window with the glass and the furniture.

I said to her one evening as we bedded down for a night of the rocket's red glare: "We should go to Denmark and become bank robbers." When she asked why I thought that was a good idea I told her that we'd get caught eventually and then we could go to prison. I told her we would get a little cottage and could grow flowers outside, and they'd feed us really well, and that when she was pissed-off at me I could get the prison to bring me a couple of prostitutes. She was getting upset with me for even dreaming up such nonsense, and then she burst into tears when I showed her the newspaper article I was paraphrasing.

How is it that normal and decent people can have their whole lives and nations turned to shit while things go so well for those who are shit to begin with try to further destroy all around them? Alas, there is nothing new under the sun.