Thursday, April 18, 2013

Me Voici Encore

I am sorry that it has been a bit quiet around here recently, but a bug acquired in France got the better of any urge to write, or even to whistle up another team member to fill in. I was due to sit in court at the beginning of the week, but I was relieved to find that the office had cancelled me because another case had overrun. The tablets that I was given by a pharmacist had a distinctly soporific effect and I have no wish to embarrass myself and the court by nodding off on the bench.

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, and I shall try to catch up with some key points in the next few days. In the meantime, can I recommend the excellent The Prisoners that was broadcast last Monday on BBC1 (so it should still be available on iPlayer). There have been a number of interesting factual programmes about prisons in recent months, and they serve as a useful antidote to the usual 'they're all just holiday camps aren't they?' rants. Prison Dads, broadcast on March 27th, focused on the many young men who sit in jail while their wife or girlfriend struggles to bring up one or more small children.

I shall return to the theme.


  1. Bowstreetrunner.18 April 2013 at 13:39

    I have never thought that prison was a holiday camp, but rather a hopefully humane way of keeping people who have lost the right to be in society for the timebeing.

    I do think short term prisoners should find it maybe more spartan inside as the sentences are short(ish) and we want to put them off coming back.So minimum perks and home coforts. A bit like the first 13 weeks in the forces- though I know that has changed a bit these days!

    Long term prisioner who are going to be there for years and years a differnent approach has to be adopted, otherwise the management of the prisions will go to pot. TV, own clothes, visits etc are all tools that help. So its odd that the powers that be are going to withdraw these perks or at least make them more difficult to gain.

    I don't believe in the bread and water approach or that prison should be a living hell. The punishment is being behind the walls , cut off from normal society and not having freedom.

    Most sane and sensible people would never want to go behind bars, but most of our customers are not sane or sensible!

  2. This will be a very absorbing series. The first episode gave the impression prisons were full of characters who couldn't understand any words with more than three syllables. Let's see if future programmes show those in jail for more than just petty or violent crimes.

    1. You need to get out more.... or it was a typo. Two syllables would have been nearer the mark. Never underestimate how thick Jo Public is. Most could not multiply 8 by 6 in their head, or write a sentence without spelling mistakes. Why should the prison population be any different? The programme just flags up quite how bad our education system is.

  3. It's a great programme.

    And great timing as well, since of course the Government is about to privatise the Probation Service, so a programme made in a few years' time could be be showing G4S uniforms in charge.

    Those of us who have lived through the debacle that is Applied Language Solutions will know how well privatisation can work in the government sphere. So if there is anyone who cares about this issue, and wants to stop it happening, they can usefully (??) sign this petition here -

  4. Thank you for mentioning the program (I must have missed any advertisements and didn't notice it in the TV Paper that we buy each week); I shall watch it with interest.

    I do not understand the idea of prisons being thought of as "holiday camps". Perhaps this shows my complete ignorance in how everything works, but despite how wonderful a time people supposedly have in there (which I very much doubt anyway)...personally, even if my every whim was to be catered for with 5* hotel style room service, luxury accommodation, gorgeous food and every personal entertainment system known to man at my disposal to play with; I STILL would not want to go to prison. The idea of being locked away, unable to leave or even to go outside into an area lined with bars and fences unless someone said I could... I'll take freedom, thanks.

    Thank you for your Blog. I enjoy reading it immensely and it helps me to understand a bit better how the law and court systems really work.

    Also, I am glad you are feeling better. Rest up (if you can) to make sure it is completely out of your system.


  5. Soigne-toi bien, mon vieux!

  6. The Number One Governor of the country's largest prison, while showing me around, waved his hand across the landings and said
    "never forget, they are all volunteers".

  7. I caught the Tuesday episode following your recommendation. It made for interesting viewing, although I was expecting the picture painted of prison life to be much harsher.

    Granted, the episode focussed on Holloway (which may be different to a men's prison?) but the image presented was of a pleasant institution, very unlike the spartan cell blocks I was expecting, with reasonably fitted out rooms covered in all the usual items you might expect to find in a bedroom outside the walls.

    The staff seemed to be extremely patient with misbehaviour and there was a lot of informality with the wardens. There were also repeated references throughout the show to how the girls "loved" prison and wanted to return there with various references made to the stability, standard of food, programmes offered etc.

    Clearly they're comparing it to a low yardstick given their individual circumstances, but I started watching expecting to see the grim picture of prison as presented on this blog but finished with the opposite impression.


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