Thursday, December 13, 2012
Very Old Lags
There will be a TV programme tonight (9 pm ITV1, thereafter on ITV Player) about the recent rise in the number of elderly prisoners, a rise that I imagine is driven by a number of factors, but chiefly the number of indefinite IPPs passed in recent years and the authorities' failure to provide these prisoners with the opportunity to undertake the courses that might permit the Parole Board to allow their eventual release. The current efforts being made to identify and bring to trial many hundreds of historic sex offences are bound to lead to the incarceration of (mostly) men in their sixties seventies and beyond. In addition there are a fair number of whole life tariffs that have been passed in the last few years.
I first became aware of this situation when I visited Wandsworth Prison a few years ago. One wing was kept for elderly and disabled inmates, and I was taken aback to see wheelchairs and mobility aids parked outside cell doors. The prison has to provide proper medical and other care for these people, and because they are, for obvious reasons unsuitable for regular prison work some raised flowerbeds have been established th the yard outside to allow prisoners to tend them.
One of the most famous, or should I say infamous, old prisoners is Harry Roberts . who was involved in the murders of three police officers in 1966. The cold blooded nature of the crime, his notoriety, and the fact that he has by no means been a model prisoner means that he may stay inside for some time yet.
The idea of what amounts to an old people's home with bars on the windows is a strange one, but it is a fact and the Prison Service will just have to get on with managing the issues that arise.