Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Prisoner Ben

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Prisoner Ben‘s post about how he came to be sentenced for murder rather than manslaughter is thoroughly depressing- although his account is somewhat matter of fact. I wonder if things would be different now- would the defending solicitor be better? Would the police take a slightly less draconian view? Would he be treated more humanely by the prison service by keeping him a YOI for longer rather than an adult prison? The difference between the experience in the secure home and the prison was stark and illuminating- I wonder why there is no political will to introduce more individualised and constructive systems in the penal system (I know it’s expensive but I think that’s a poor excuse).

Ben’s account of how he has ended up serving twenty years over tariff is also interesting- if things are as he says, then the parole board has a lot of questions to answer. I wouldn’t expect anything less of a Home Secretary (especially Jack Straw) but the parole board should be fair and consistent. Lord Ramsbotham has joined in the debate about whether Ben should be released although with a more pragmatic reason: that the increasing number of prisoners kept in jail past their tariff date was contributing to the prisons overcrowding crisis.

There have also been some good articles on John Hirst’s blog, as well as something in the Guardian- all great stuff, well worth a read.

I was thinking about my previous post on prisoners and the internet- in particular about the Open University. Over the last few years the OU has changed all of its courses to online courses. This means prisoners can no longer access them- luckily for Ben he seems to have avoided the OU route but I’m sure others are now left in a position where they cannot do the course they want because the OU is now an online university and they aren’t allowed access to the internet. Another reason for a need to have another look at the policy on internet access for prisoners to make it more relevant to the ‘information age’.


Written by criminologyandstuff

October 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Posted in criminal justice

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