Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Suppressio Veri, Suggestio Falsi

The Daily Mail, in its mission to find something that the lower-middle classes can get angry about has discovered a shock-horror scandal that prisoners are working on the railway, no less. (As an aside, has anyone used the word 'convict' in this sense in the last fifty years?)
Various people huff and puff about this, but let's have a think for a moment. Prisoners who have a low security classification and who are nearing the end of long sentences are routinely found work outside the prison. The employers know their background. The idea is to help men who have been out of circulation for years to get back into the world of work with the self-respect and self-discipline that involves. In addition they can put some money by to help them on release. I am not ashamed to think that this is a good, practical, and sensible idea. The nudge-nudge implication, complete with pictures of derailed trains, is that these men are so wicked and/or feckless that they are bound either to do sloppy work or, in their incorrigible malice, somehow commit sabotage. Mock-horror from the union too, but hang on a minute:- if a worker does a bad job he can be fired. If a licenced prisoner does a bad job he can be fired and then returned to a closed prison, so he has even more to lose.
Some journalists will never be happy until all offences result in prison and all prisons go back to bread and water and breaking rocks.

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