The criminal justice system in Britain often relies upon labels in order to deal with offenders. Individualised rehabilitative treatment is both expensive and time consuming and it is far easier to set a few different standard treatment pathways and then to divide offenders according to easily applied labels in order to determine which pathway would be most appropriate to their treatment needs. However, not only does labelling in this way preclude the delivery of treatment in the most effective way possible (i.e. on an individualised basis), it is also easy to apply the wrong labels.
The problem here is that, just as history is written by the victors, labels ore decided upon and fixed by those in power. An offender is never able to determine their own labels, they are applied externally. Even the term ‘rehabilitation’ itself is a label which (although differently interpreted by each and every individual) is given a fixed, non-negotiable definition by the criminal justice system.
A couple of months ago a prisoner here was granted his parole and yet he wasn’t released until weeks later and everyone who got involved simply said that they had not yet been told to let him go. There was no reasoning, no logic. No explanation whatsoever.
You may have seen that publicly publishing explicit photographs of someone without their consent has now been made illegal under laws to combat revenge porn. What you might not have considered is how this will effect those publications that print explicit photographs of celebrities taken by paparazzi.
For a few years now the probation service has required certain offenders (mostly sex offenders as far as I am aware) to take polygraph or lie detector tests. Recently a number of people have written letters to Inside Time claiming to have voluntarily taken these tests and to have proven that they are being honest when they say they are innocent. However, as much as I hate Jeremy Kyle, I think there are certain lessons we can learn from his show.
The use of wearable body cameras has been rolled out amongst police forces across the world and now the Prison Officers’ Association says they want them too. The only problem is, cameras in prison seem to come with a one hundred percent blind spot.
Prisons are already covered by far more CCTV cameras than your average building in the outside world, and if a prisoner ever does anything wrong against a member of staff the footage is there and ready to use on adjudication the very next day. But if a prisoner enters another person’s cell to wreck it, to steal something, or even to attack them, then we are invariably given the brush off.
I had always thought that MPs were not meant to publicly question judicial decisions made in the courts, but it seems that I got this very very wrong. Just a couple of months ago I saw an MP on The Daily Politics who did exactly that.
Recently I was asked for help by another prisoner who has been downgraded from enhanced regime status to standard regime for very unclear reasons. Now, this prisoner can be a headache at the best of times, but this is not entirely his fault. Some time ago he suffered a severe brain injury and now he is not always aware of it when he is being socially awkward. It is quite possible that he was fairly awkward beforehand too, but now he can struggle to understand even the most basic things and it does take some patience to deal with him.
I was just reading a piece in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine about an NHS whistle-blower and it set me thinking. Why do we see so many whistle-blowers from a wide range of jobs and backgrounds but so very few whistle-blowers in the prison service?
Over the past year I have read apology after apology from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, both in personal letters and in letters sent by them to Inside Time, for the delays that have been seen in them investigating prisoners’ complaints. They do nothing but make excuses about how short-staffed they have been and how many complaints they have had to deal with whilst promising that it will get better. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case at all.