The United Kingdom's “Soft Touch” Prison System
It is not difficult to see why the United Kingdom’s prison system is often viewed as being too “soft”. The prisoners often have a better life than many of the deprived in this country, as the prisoners are getting three square meals a day, able to watch television and have access to a gym; which for many of us law abiding citizens would cost us hundreds of pounds. Also, does prison really rehabilitate or punish? I don’t think so! As you have probably gathered my opinion is that UK prisons are more like holiday camps than places of punishment. I believe that prisoners should feel that their punishment fits the crime they committed and where there is an instance of murder or any abhorrent acts, the sentence should reflect the verdict and like the United States a life sentence means life. It is an absolute disgrace to think that UK prisoners have or gain access to ‘luxury items’ that some members of this country cannot afford. So, basically while serving a sentence that our judicial system has felt fit to hand down, we have some thug or murderer living a better life in prison than that of an innocent law- abiding citizen living in poverty. On the inside an inmate’s every need is addressed, on the outside we have people waiting up to 6 weeks to hear about Universal Credit, housing issues and even terminal illness. Even prison officers, who are the ones that have a real insight into the UK prison system, responded to a survey on the reality of prison responded ‘life is too easy for prisoners’ one guard said ‘in no way is this punishment’ and I find this amusing as the literal meaning of prison is a building in which people are legally held as ‘punishment’ for the crimes they’ve committed or while awaiting trial.
I also think that it is absolutely pathetic that prisoners find the means to take to social media and boast about their stay in prison. I have found through research that some prisoners almost think they’re rating their stay on Trivago, one man referred to his as a long weekend away, He wrote: ‘Stayed here on a bargain (free) long weekend break. ‘No chance of getting a beer though. ‘Staff were a bit surly – one reminded me of Mr Mackay from Porridge. ‘Most other guests seemed a bit grumpy for some reason, ‘Maybe they didn’t use the discount booking code or something. ‘Food OK if you require just basic sustenance over taste and nutritional value.’ Another prisoner totally backs up my argument from the first paragraph Prisoner Paul Robbo Robinson wrote online: ‘Absolute luxury. I mean it’s easy to break out of but why would I want to? Free food, pool tables, central heating and TV’. This statement just mocks the prison system as not only does he say that all the facilities are great but also that it would have been easy to break out of this particular prison. It makes me angry that there are people using prison as holiday homes and for certain the government are partly to blame for this mayhem. This brings me to my next point. The government is wasting far too much time and money on prisoner welfare and not addressing the real problem of adequate sentencing and moral of the officers within the prisons. For a start it costs somewhere around £40,000 to imprison someone for a year (This is clearly shown by prison watch UK’s stats), which is more than a prison guard’s salary and double that of the average working man’s yearly wage, also you need to remember that each prison holds thousands of prisoners.
This is a lot of wasted money that the government would be far better of spending on readdressing the social and economic burden it places on the tax payer and the country in general. It is clear the that our prison system has not adequately adapted to the level or type of prisoners currently being incarcerated giving credence to the argument ‘Are the numbers issued by government the truth’? We see on the news that crime figures are falling and then we’re told that prison figures are on the rise, this mask’s the real problem seen across the country and that is that our sentencing parole and reoffending statistics do not add up, figures show ‘46% of all prisoners will re-offend within a year of release. 60% of short-sentenced prisoners will reoffend within the same period.” This shows that even the new key feature of prison which is to rehabilitate the inmates is definitely not working. As the idea behind rehabilitating prisoners is to stop them from committing more acts of crime and yet so many come out of jail and go right back because their life is better in jail. We have also seen over the past year an increase in Prison crime, with crimes being committed against guards and other inmates. Prisons have been transformed from places of discipline and punishment, to places of ‘luxury’ and ill -discipline as newly built prisons have ‘rooms’ not cells and in these rooms, there’s a landline telephone, a computer ‘so inmates can study’ and they also have en-suite showers.
Also, inmates in these new prisons are not referred to as prisoners but ‘men’. These prisons also have all the usual leisure facilities and offer education / work experience. The thinking behind HMP Berwyn which is the particular prison I’m referring to has been influenced by none other than Nelson Mandela who after spending many years in prison wrote ‘ that ‘normality’ in prison is extremely important’ and so the idea behind this prison is “The more normal you make it on the inside, the easier it is to transition when they get out’, However I believe this will make it harder for prisoners to readjust as when they are released they will get used to all the luxuries of prison so when released they will find it hard to fend for them self and cope with the challenges of ‘real life’. The one good thing about prison is that they keep the dangerous criminals away from the public for some time, however in some cases not for long enough as some are released before their sentences are over or released under license. After in depth research, my opinion that prison is like a hotel has not changed. I believe that something has to be done about this country’s ‘soft touch’ approach to the prison system or else there is going to be no point of having these places of so called punishment and rehabilitation and I also feel that because they are making prisons more and more luxurious that this could actually increase crime rates as those who cannot afford life on the outside will offend to get a worry-free life inside one the UKs ‘prisons’.
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