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Prison Tech Update

I’ve previously written about the rules concerning such things as visits and letters to prisoners. These posts were quite widely read but there have been a number of important changes over the past couple of years so I thought I should post a short update.

It used to be the case that you could only visit a convicted prisoner if they sent you a Visiting Order. This is no longer the case. Most prisons (including HMP Wakefield from last year) have introduced a new booking procedure where the prisoner adds someone to their approved visitors list and the visitor can then book a visit online via prisonvisits.service.gov.uk whenever they want. It is no longer necessary for the prisoner to send a visiting order at all. In addition, when this system was introduced, everyone who had previously visited a prisoner at their current establishment was added to the approved visitors list automatically so that prisoners don’t have to add a person to their list if they have already had visits with them.

Secondly, a new system for sending money to prisoners has also been introduced. Using gov.uk/send-prisoner-money you can make a wire transfer of money to a prisoner. The advantage of this over previous methods, is that it is free (as opposed to Postal Orders which tend to cost around 10% extra), it is instant (as opposed to cheques which still take around a month to be cleared into a prisoner’s account for them to use), and it is secure (as opposed to cash which has a habit of going missing somewhere between being posted and being received by the prisoner).

It seems that the prison service is finally accepting that it cannot resist the twenty-first century. Hope that info helps, folks.

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Prison Canteen: Every Little Helps

The recent news that Tesco is to merge with the nations biggest wholesaler, Booker, wouldn’t usually spring out as a story that is relevant to prisons, but it could well have far reaching implications within Britain’s jails. Not least because Booker has an exclusive contract to supply the weekly canteen order of all prisoners in public sector prisons.

 

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After the Storm (Part One)

In my first post back in the new year I mentioned that I had taken the decision to do something that turned out to be quite inadvisable, but that I couldn’t yet go into detail about because it was still a pending issue. Since writing that the situation has been resolved and I think that I should probably share what happened. Here’s what went down.

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The Butlins Riots

birmingham-final

I want to preface this by saying that I would never encourage a riot and I hope that I am never at a prison where one breaks out, forcing me to choose whether to take part or to take the consequences of not doing so from those who are.

However, I do think that the increase in the number and seriousness of prison disturbances over the past couple of years could actually be a good thing. Of course I don’t want anyone to get hurt, whether they are a prisoner or an officer, but physical violence does not necessarily have to be a core element of rioting. Criminal damage? Usually. Mutiny and insubordination? Definitely. But physical assault? It’s simply not necessary. What you won’t read in the mainstream media though, is what long term benefits may come from these riots for people on all sides.

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Discrimination: Unnoticed, Unchallenged, and Unresolved

Most prisoners, myself included, are guilty of thinking about institutional discrimination mainly from the point of view of race and religion, but there are a lot of other examples that are far less obvious and more deeply ingrained in the system, almost taken entirely for granted.

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