Tuesday, 26 April 2016

prison essays (2) Rehabilitation of prisoners

Bertrand Russell, in his famous pamphlet, Why I am Not A Christian, asserts he does not believe a person that is humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Many Britons appear to be fond of punishment, more so than most other countries, but bizarrely enough the government also wishes to “cure” prisoners with courses which, in many instances are forced to attend in prisons. This, to me, appears rather farcical, for one reason in particular. The 1974 Rehabilitation Act stipulates that a prisoner sentenced to three or more years is unable to be rehabilitated, that however has been amended, it is now four years. Even so, if a person spends two-years in prison they are unable to be rehabilitated. Yet are still made to go on “rehabilitative courses”. These prisoners or ex-prisoners who are unable to be “rehabilitated” after attending courses to “rehabilitate” themselves are driven out of the job market because they have to disclose their criminal record, and the jobs require Disclosure Barring Checks (DBS), formerly Criminal Record Checks (CRB), the jobs which require a DBS are so excessive that the ex-prisoner departs from normal society, and enter the society with a fascist structure, eliminating them from work, thus after completing a rehabilitative course.

This, of course, is very Orwellian. It is, nevertheless, important to understand from the outset how the process works in regard to courses. For arguments sake allow me to assume the prisoner is remanded in custody, and having been found guilty of a particular offence is due to be sentenced, often before sentencing they are visited by their Offender Manager (Probation Officer). This probation officer asks the condemned man or woman a series of questions, files a report, this is known as a pre-sentence report. This report, on the day he/she is sentenced is handed to the judge and are sentenced based on the report itself, or maybe not as the case maybe. After sentencing they of course are taken back to prison, depending on the sentence received. If it is a custodial sentence and is considerably longer than their remand time then they will be expected to do these courses while they remain in custody. After so long, once again they will see their Offender Manager. If they receive a sentence of over three years they must visit them within sixteen weeks to devise a sentence plan; under sixteen weeks then the period is eight weeks.

During this period the Offender Manager devises a “sentence plan” without consulting the “offender”, and the “sentence plan” is exactly what it says it is. It has aims and objectives to plan the sentence of the convicted prisoner. The most important aspect of this are the courses the prisoner is coerced into doing. I use the word coerce for two reasons. (1), the prisoner serving a determinate sentence must attend courses whilst in custody, if such courses are refused then they are offered when released from their incarceration, and if they refuse it while they are on licence then they must return to custody. Of course this is not always the case, but I must add, often it is; (2), the indeterminate prisoner is a victim of rampant psychological warfare. Unless they agree to do the course(s) they will never be released and inevitably die in prison, but I will speak more of indeterminate sentences shortly.

Domestic and foreign affairs within parliament and elsewhere operate under a propaganda framework, any deviation from it will eliminate you from these elite groups. Under this framework then a word which is often overused is “transparency”. This is an interesting choice of words concerning the present discussion because there is zero transparency. The prisoner has no say whatsoever in what courses they will attend. It is all done behind closed doors, and they are unable to contribute to the development of their own lives. It is quite easy for people in all corners of the world with differing ideologies to use the word rehabilitation but in effect it means nothing. Josef Stalin spoke of rehabilitation but his idea of rehabilitation and the Scandinavian models are quite different, as they are by today’s standards.

Current prisoners in England and Wales who are serving indeterminate sentences are at an unfair disadvantage. In 2005 Mr Deegan was the first person in the country to receive an IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentence, yet few of us know what an IPP is. The people that are subject to it are of various sorts. It was an insidious policy aimed at coercing people to attend courses for those that have the temerity to refuse. This proved a dilemma for those who maintained their innocence, because often people are innocent of the crime(s) they are convicted for. Prisoners are “assessed” before they attend the course itself. Part of this “assessment” is crucial because you are unable to pass the “assessment” unless you are willing to admit guilt, if not and the prisoner is serving an indeterminate sentence they will never be released until they succumb.

With the IPP prisoner or lifer it is psychological torment. With the prisoner serving a determinate sentence it is still torment of a kind. The content of these courses have not been discussed in this short essay, it need not be. It would take another separate essay and a far longer one to discuss the different Kafkaesque courses available in the industrial prison complex. The courses then are dictated to by the general population as rehabilitative, while still holding prisoners to ransom on a number of issues. Much of the job market is restricted after the “rehabilitative” courses have been completed, court orders are in place, even after the completion of such courses, and with this we could go on. The courses, are, in effect, useless.

The cost of these useless courses funded by the taxpayer, cost an outrageous fortune. To me, it seems utterly ridiculous to “punish” the “offender” and then to “rehabilitate” the “ex-offender”, if we are to use official state jargon. This is what I would describe as an oxymoron. If Britain wishes to be a nation based on hatred, on greed, as wretched annihilators of freedom and liberty and so they ought to carry on with their criminal policies. Yet this little hidden misdemeanour is so furtive that not even the educated elite are aware such abuses are taking place.

There is an element to these courses which has not been touched upon in this essay and that they do more harm than good, encourage reoffending and not deter it. This very notion is ignored, predictably. The very idea of rehabilitative courses is very Orwellian and even Kafkaesque, what makes them Kafkaesque is what follows from these infantile courses. After they have been completed, certain “offenders”, we are told, must be monitored until the day they die. This is the sort of society and justice people are content with. It is dangerous and could only happen in a country which is dominated by legal corruption and the extreme form of free market thuggery.

January 7-8th, 2014

See my previous post on my 'prison essays', the next prison essay shall be posted shortly

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