Tag Archive | Crime

Policetamol

According to some, crime rates have been falling for a while now. The validity of these claims is disputed, but even if there has been a decrease in the number of offences committed, what are the reasons for this? Is it tougher laws? Is it increased police numbers or better training? Or could it be down to an increase in the availability of psychiatric medication?

I recently read an American article which claimed that their own decline in crime had paralleled a period of improvement in the treatment of mental health and behavioural problems. Could it be the same on this side of the Atlantic? Could it be that the availability of anti-psychotics (and even such medication as ritalin for ADHD) could be responsible for our crime rates going down? I won’t pretend to know the answer to this but it’s an interesting thought and, according to the article I read, a 10 percent increase in prescription rates could decrease the violent crime rate by up to 0.7 percent, which would prevent as many as 10,000 violent crimes in the United States alone.

Punishment or Rehabilitation?

It’s an age-old debate: What do we want from our justice system? Punishment or Rehabilitation? For the past few Governments, it would seem that the aim has been both, but this may be why neither has been achieved very effectively. Continue reading

What’s The Alternative?

Continuing on from my last post, for some years now I’ve known that sorry just isn’t enough. It doesn’t make up for the past and nothing ever will. But that doesn’t mean that you stop trying. Whether you believe in it or not, the story of the devil being banned for all eternity is highly relevant here. It’s the story of someone who knowingly did wrong and was told that he could never redeem himself. In response, he didn’t even attempt redemption. He embraced his fate to be cast into hell, and decided that he might as well do whatever he wanted and take as many people with him as possible.

Well, I know I’ll never be able to undo what I’ve done, I can never take back the past and I can never make up for it. But I will not give up. Not at least trying to make up for your mistakes is almost as bad as making them in the first place. So I swear, I will spend the rest of my life, futile as it may be, trying to balance the bad I have done with just a little bit of good. I will help who I can. I will do what I can. I will find a way to make a difference.

Why? Well, what’s the alternative?

I’m Sorry

I’d like to apologise for a couple of things relating to my last post. The first is its length. They won’t all be that long, but I thought it was important to explain my sentence so far if I’m going to keep writing about it as time progresses. The second thing is the amount of self-pity that may have come across in it. Honestly, I don’t think I should be in prison any more. I think I should have been given access to the right courses and then released years ago. However, I am in prison because of my own actions and I have no right to feel sorry for myself.

In speaking to certain prisoners who are maintaining their innocence there is one thing I have said repeatedly. I regret what I did to end up in prison whole-heartedly and, if I could take it back, I would do in a second. But I do know one thing. I’d rather be in prison for something I did than for something I didn’t do. If I had to stay in here and I knew I was innocent, I don’t think I’d be able to cope. I’m here because I messed up. It’s those that are in here through no fault of their own that I really feel sorry for.

But there’s an even more important apology that I need to make too. I need to say sorry to everyone I’ve hurt over the years. I need to say sorry to my family and to my friends. I need to say sorry to my ex-fiance too. And of course, I need to say sorry to those that were hurt directly by my crimes. To my victims. To their families. To their friends. Even to the old lady who heard about it on the local news and felt a little less safe, or the teenage boy who was wrongly assumed to be up to no good because a minority of us actually were. And to anyone I ever hurt in any way. And to you.

I’m sorry.

The Duty of Rehabilitation

The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of civilisation of any country – a constant heart searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if only you can find it, in the heart of every person – these are the symbols which in the treatment or crime and criminals mark and measure the stored up strength of a nation and are the sign and proof of living virtue in it.”

-Winston Churchill

I’ve never really bought into the legend of Churchill as an idealised leader who could do no wrong. He did a lot of wrong in ways too numerous to mention here. But he did a lot of right too. The above quote shows a side to Churchill which I do admire. In many ways he was a forward thinker and his ability to stress the importance of punishment whilst also emphasising the duty of every person, including those punishers themselves, to have compassion and to rehabilitate was unrivalled in his time.

He was right: measured compassion is the virtue of civilised nations. But it is a virtue which I fear is close to death. It is true that as criminals we have neglected compassion ourselves but you cannot instil compassion in a person without showing them your compassion too.

Churchill’s belief that there is a treasure in the heart of every person is one I share. But many prisoners cannot see the treasure in even their own hearts. It is up to those of us that can see it to show it to those people and give them a positive sense of self-worth as a foundation to build upon. For those charged with the duty of punishment I would even go so far as to say that finding a prisoner’s inherent treasure, showing it to them, and helping them to cultivate it, is more than just a kindness or good practice; it is their duty.

More Than a Number

I guess I should tell you a bit about who I am. The first thing I should probably make clear is that I’m not a “prison blogger”, I’m a blogger who happens to be in prison. Sure, I’ll probably write a fair bit about prisons, but prisons are not what I’m about.

I started this sentence when I was still a kid. I’ve been inside ever since. I grew up in here. But prison does not define who I am. I am more than just a number.

I’m not going to get into how I ended up in here – that wouldn’t be fair on the people my crimes affected – but I will say that I changed. I grew up. I matured. At times this change was encouraged by the system, and at others I changed in spite of it. But I refuse to be defined by prison. I’m a three dimensional person. I have interests, hobbies, skills. Yes, I’m a prisoner, but I’m so much more too.

I’ve often been told that, being in prison since childhood, I lack the life experience of people my age on the outside. Rubbish. I have twenty-eight years of life experiences. They are just different life experiences. But what use are experiences if you can’t share them? I’ve been writing articles, short stories, and poems for some time now – with varying degrees of success – but even the work I’ve had published has had a limited reach. I guess that’s the nature of prisons. They’re all walls and locked doors. However, that has at least motivated me to start this blog. To break down the doors, scale the walls, and share my experiences with the world beyond. And if you want to reply, if you want to ask any questions or to share back, please do, either through this site or by writing to me direct at the address on the right. It’s always good to know there’s still people on the other side of the wall.