Wednesday, April 18, 2012
When people have no stake in society, there is no future, Angiolini proposes prison reform, don’t go far enough, closing Cornton Vale not an option
You may have caught the Newsnight Scotland interview on female prisoners and subsequent reforms proposed by the Angiolini Commission.
Clive Fairweather, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland says that the appointment of Elish Angiolini was a ‘stroke of genius’ by what he describes as the normally embattled justice minister, Kenny MacAskill.
Is it a stroke of genius to be able to recognise a problem that everyone else has blogged on for years?
Patently no, but when it is a member of the ‘establishment’ it appears ‘wonder’ is magically attached to it!
A proposal has been made by Angiolini to close Cornton Vale prison.
We have a prison population is which far too big and needs addressed.
The crux of the matter in prisons is breaking the cycle of crime of repeat offenders which effectively log jam the system in both male and female prisons.
Short sentences which I have blogged on before, don’t work; it is a warehousing experience but on occasion is necessary.
We need prison for certain types of people and we always will.
Sending people to prison isn’t a success; it is a failure of society, all of society, particularly of the political class.
Some people appear to rack up more time in courts than some lawyers.
I have blogged over the years that when people have no stake in society they have nothing to lose, you can google me on my thoughts on prison, crime and punishment.
Clive Fairweather hails Angiolini has having a much broader understanding of the entire judicial system and ‘knows where to point the finger’.
One place the finger isn’t being pointed is the Scottish Government; we don’t live in a fair society, until measures are enacted to remove restrictions to education, social opportunities and employment to people who are imprisoned in places like Cornton Vale, we will get nowhere.
The Angiolini Commission proposals are doomed to limited success. This isn't the big pciture, but a part of the big picture, let us not mistake it for anything else.
Close Cornton Vale is not a serious proposal, getting rid of people who shouldn’t be there is a serious proposal however.
One of my ideas for offender rehab when I stood as a prospective SNP Council Candidate was radical, it was to allow offenders to be part of selected council departments and suitable organisations that offered them skills training while they pay back their debt to society.
Both society and offender would benefit from my idea.
People would be screened and personal development plans introduced, to effectively introduce them to an alternative lifestyle.
But more than that, there must be opportunities available to get there, genuine opportunities, not just talk.
Clive Fairweather argues that there is a case for treating women differently than men because backgrounds are often related to abuse from men and bound up with addictions.
Try flying that kite at a murder trial; it won’t get you very far. Currently community payback is to get a group of offenders to work in a chain gang mentality doing menial work, so they are seen to be punished.
Allowing politicians in government to run with the line that they are tough on crime!
In part that ethos is reason why there has been so much failure in the criminal justice system of repeat offenders returning to crime. Politicians left people to rot, the prison service just did the warehousing.
Angiolini has a plan, but it is a plan doomed to limited success, it isn’t genius as Clive Fairweather says or anything like it, its piecemeal, it addresses some problems but doesn’t address others.
Closing Cornton Vale isn’t a serious option.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University