The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue September 2011

40% Deduction from wages a double jeopardy

From Gautam Majumdar – HMP Springhill

When Kenneth Clarke proposed that all prisoners should do real work in prison, earn a proper wage, and contribute a portion of their earning to a victims’ fund, he made an eminently sensible proposal.

I think he envisaged the following scenario. For a start, he referred to all prisoners. A vast majority (in fact some 95%) of the country’s 86000 prisoners are in closed conditions, who either work in prison jobs earning £10 a week or don’t work at all, spending most of their time banged up. Some are in education, again earning the same pittance.

The Justice Secretary envisaged workshops and small factories being set up within prisons, employing prisoners, where they would earn realistic wages, and contribute a portion of this to a victims fund. Let us do some Maths on this. If prisoners on an averaged earned £200 a week (prisoners working inside are not subject to tax and NI), and contributed 40% or £80 a week, this would work out to around £4000 per year for each prisoner. This would mean an annual contribution in excess of £300 million to the victims fund after the costs of administering the scheme. A sizable and material sum. But setting up the workshops and getting private sponsors on board would take time, and the Government is in a hurry.

Now let us see how this visionary scheme is being corrupted, and implemented in a hurry so that someone can make a statement that the scheme has been implemented, and falsely claim prisoners have started to make big contributions to the victims’ fund.

The scheme is being introduced in September in the Open Estate for Prisoners on full time work away from the prison. The Open Estate with around 4000 prisoners comprises less than 5% of the prison population. Out of these 4000 D Cat prisoners less than 400 are in actual full time work away from prison on day release. Most of these prisoners, under risk assessment guidelines, are nearing the end of their sentences. Most too, earn the minimum wage and very often only mange to get part time work. They have to buy and maintain their car to get to work. The save the prison money because they don’t eat their meals in the prison when away at work but have to buy their meals from their wages.

Since they are on minimum wage they would be earning, on a full time basis, around £20,000 per year/ Since most are unable to get full time work, let us assume average earning for them would be around £10000 per annum. After tax and NI (which they will be subject to unlike closed estate prisoners), their take home would be around £8000. Most of this going towards car expenses and food, and for the especially frugal worker prisoner to save a small sum, usually for their families or for a small nest egg on release which will act as deterrent to re-offending on release.

This group is being asked to pay 40% of their after tax wages from September. Let us assume this is £3000 per prisoner. Based on 400 prisoners this would amount to a total contribution of some £1.2 million a year, before the costs of administering the scheme, which would probably be in the range of a million pounds. So the victims fund would get around £200,000 instead of the £300 million envisaged by the Justice Secretary.

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Comments about this letter

1/9/2011 Simon

Nice letter, but I hope you don't plan on getting a job teaching Maths on your release from prison. Someone earning minimum wage (£5.93ph) working full-time (40 hours per week) will earn £237.20 a week. This equates to £12,300 a year approximately - far short of your £20k estimate.

2/9/2011 Alex Brown

I was in prison. I had no victim. I was a victim of the system. I wouldn't work to pay for victim support. That would mean I would be forced not to work. Also its very sanctimonious for a kidnap underclass abuse system to go on about victims.

22/9/2011 mark briodle

theres no such thing as victimless crime mate

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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for September 2011
Take the moral high ground
Cause of the riots? Let’s ask the rioters
Slopping out revisited
Branston not closing down
Horrendous treatment
Secret PSI?
Kosher meals
Backlash for complaining
Historic sex offence cases a travesty of justice
Drop me out!
Duvet rip off
Isolated prisoners will help raise awareness
For shame!
Missing Post
Return of al-Megrahi
Branded with the brush of denial
No confidence in MoJ
Current page: 40% Deduction from wages a double jeopardy
Tackling canteen price increases
Charity should begin (and stay) at home
‘Mis-management’ of our prisons
Lie detector tests for all PMIs
HMP encouraging prisoners to break the law
How mean is means testing
Well done, son


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