Sunday, 22 May 2016

Prison Essays (6): Mental Health

Britain is one of those benevolent countries which likes to lock people up who are mentally disturbed. It is estimated in Britain that around eighty percent of the prison population have mental health issues. Nevertheless, this savage incarceration of unwell men, women, and even children should come as no surprise to many of us. It is a nation that is obsessed with locking people up and shouting infantile platitudes such as “justice”. In fact, there is no justice where this matter is concerned. For the authorities presiding over criminal law and over people with mental illnesses, their incarceration should be held in no great esteem. To put the mentally ill in prison is itself a criminal act, but few seem to share this view.

There is a spectre haunting Britain. It is a morbid disease which seeks to lock up a large number of people for long periods - and this - to foolish and unwise people is “justice”, “right” and “fair.” If the “crime” is committed the “offender” must go to prison, so we are told. This person can be a child, suffering from psychosis, no matter what the condition is of the individual, they must go to prison and rejoice in the misery in which they are subject to. The state, that pernicious, nefarious autocratic authority which talks puerile idiocies at every opportunity, ought not to preside over such things. They prefer to rub the sore when they should bring the plaster, thus endangering every woman, man and child in the community. Indeed those that believe in punishment ought not to be taken seriously.

If we were to take Hannah Arendt’s advice and execute all the brutes Britain would be without judges, the House of Commons would be without members of Parliament, police stations would be empty, prisons would be without officers and governors and so on. Let us, for example take a man who has the thinking capacity of an eight-year-old child who has violently attacked a child. If that individual is placed in prison then the state to which he belongs are responsible for putting children in prison, and it is also the case that such a person would fail to grasp the reasons for being incarcerated in the first place. This is not punishment but obscene mental retardation. Because, upon release, there is nothing to stop him from repeating his wild act because he has not been taught that it is wrong. There is little morality in such affairs, and those who refrain from speaking out about such abysmal practices are just as immoral.

I would now like to pose a polemical argument. All punitive institutions ought to be dismantled, and more humanitarian and caring practices ought to be erected. If a “crime” is committed by someone who is considered to be suffering from a mental sickness, first it is important to determine and understand why this person did such a thing. Throwing an individual into jail will be severely detrimental to the individual involved, as well as to others. It is best to cure the illness within their mind, and relinquish their demons. However, evidently, we do not live in a caring society, and such protestations are in vain. If a more sane society was created it would put an end to governments everywhere, but that is impossible.

There appears, quite marginally, to be some concern from people in different parts of this corrosive society, but this gentle empathy does indeed have its limits. This stops short at the prison gates, and those hapless victims suffering a sickness of the mind, are left alone in this dark, dank, cold and devastating world. It is a little peculiar even by the governments’ standards by incarcerating these people because it does little to serve their interests and ventures. Throwing people in prison is not just a matter of barbarian practices by the criminal class; it goes much further than that. Presently Britain houses more prisoners than any other European counterpart. This is because these people languishing in these institutions are acting as financial profit for the state and private power, but those that do not have the ability to work that is something else.

Those that are incapable of working in prison still serve the state’s interest just by being in prison. Many of us are so ridiculous that an abnormally large number of us believe prisons to be places of rehabilitation. This “rehabilitation” is a profiteering practice for the government and the like. Crime does pay but not for the “offender” or “”victim” but to a more insidious throng. Why does the crypto-fascist government take immense pleasure in locking up such people? This is a question which is not too difficult to answer.

A new sort of society has been created before our very eyes, it is, what we may call a dystopian nightmare envisioned by vicious plutocrats. This new society is, in essence, social Darwinism, aimed at benefitting those who are wealthy enough to pay their taxes in millions, as for the rest of society they are marginalised without knowing it. The state gains nothing in helping those with mental health conditions; it does not benefit the government, therefore they are an unnecessary burden and the lower element. That is why they are shoved in prison and offered no help before getting there, and nothing while they are there and even after they leave. Nevertheless, the treatment of people suffering from mental illness is seldom discussed in polite society. Prison works, so said the former Home Secretary, Michael Howard. Prison does not work; it did not work then, it does not work now and it never shall in the future, certainly not in this society. Michael Howard was fond of locking people up with all kinds of mental problems, yet, so it appears, his conscience was never pricked. In fact, mental health is ridiculed in the television system, on reality shows of various sorts they act as entertainment programmes, tormenting and ridiculing people with clear disabilities of the mind, and the viewers laugh as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Contrastingly, those with physical disabilities on these same abominable television programmes are met with sympathy and often admiration. Such polarity is striking.

The same happens in punitive institutions. Those suffering from mental health problems are often met with mockery and brutality, not only from the prisoners but from the prison officers as well. For them it is prison of the very worst kind.

26th January 2014.
For my other prison essays see previous posts. The next essay on prisons will be posted shortly.

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