The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue August 2010
I often read your Mailbag section, with its many letters of complaint – education, or lack of it, problems generally with the criminal justice and prison system – and my point is I’ve been in prison for nearly 7 months, and I’ve heard numerous people making comments such as “I only got such a big sentence because of Judge so-and-so” for example. But people are only in prison because they choose to commit crime, with the exception of the mentally ill. I’m all for an American style system – longer sentences, less privileges, no television, no pool or snooker tables, nothing. Now I know that many of your readers will disagree with my view, I would expect no less, but instead of moaning that the prisons are almost full we should be building more. Let’s not continue to allow prisons to be holiday camps. I’m sick to death of hearing people talking about their crimes as though they were a badge of honour.
One thing David Cameron could do straight away is scrap the Human Rights Act. If a burglar breaks into your home you should be allowed to shoot him dead. A burglar leaves his human rights on the doorstep the moment he commits burglary. I’m sick of hearing prisoners bleating about their human rights when they never thought about the human rights of their victims. I would like to see more use of IPP sentences, and increase the minimum recommendations. Life should mean life, 90 years minimum for crimes like murder, and longer sentences to act as a deterrent for crimes of violence – 20 years +. Only when we get tough on sentencing will we see a decrease in people returning to prison. Prison should not be comfortable and it certainly shouldn’t be easy. It should be loathed and tough. Though I doubt Mr Cameron has the guts to carry out the radical changes needed.
Comments about this letter
6/8/2010 Steven BattramYou never give away your human rights, if it wasn't for European law, British prisons would still be in the dark ages. The wall is the punishment all the rest is abuse and wickedness. I have been on mass hunger-strikes and sit-downs in the old days fighting for better conditions. Be thankful you can sit in front of a tv all day, instead of looking at four walls. But don't worry the pendulum will swing again and one day a screw will gladly walk into your cell take your TV and throw it in the bin.
6/8/2010 LisaI read this article with much interest, as I also believe that prison is too soft especially on prolific offenders. I do believe that prisoners should be entitled to their Human Rights, but hey you can be spoken to with respect while working 8 hours a day on a chain gang. There isn't always abuse and wickedness, and let's be honest most of this is from prisoner to prisoner, not from officer to prisoner. The prison officer is there doing a job, the judge sends the person found guilty down, but it is the responsibility of that person's actions that led them to a custodial sentence, and if that person thought about the affect on their own family they may think twice next time. Just for the record I served 2 1/2 years in some of the most miserable, suicidal women's prisons this country has to offer.
7/8/2010 Steven BattramExtract from Elizabeth Fry, Prison Visiting, 4 March 1817.
7/8/2010 Karen Mellor - - www.prisonersfamiliesvoices.blogspot.comI'm not sure whether the writer of this letter has children or not, but if he thinks scrapping the human rights act is fine and dandy, maybe he should consider how this would affect the thousands of children already affected by imprisonment? Children who know no different and do not see criminals on visits. All they see is their mums and dads. If the prisoner chooses to commit a crime, then that's his or hers problem in my view. But as Lisa quite rightly states above, what affect does imprisonment have on families? I'll tell you from experience shall I - It's one of the worse situations to be in that's for sure. If a prisoner stood at the school gates and watched his son or daughter being bullied and excluded from playing with other children, then maybe a TV inside is irrelevant?
9/8/2010 IanI'm not sure this isn't a bit of a wind up,B. Burns?
19/9/2010 rita lister -i agree human rights for all its not only prisoners doing the time but the families too.espcially families of ipp prisoners its torture not knowing when your going to have your loved ones home and when.having tv and games etc are all youve got to stop you going mad or self harm.
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