Monday, February 21, 2011
Ombudsman Misses the Point
The ultimate arbitrator in disputes between prisoners and the prison service is the Prisons Ombudsman. I recommend his regular publications for those wanting a greater insight into the petty, malign and just plain stupid carceral machine.
In a recent judgement, the Ombudsman had to consider the case of a dying man. The Lifer Governor, quite decently, began the paperwork to apply for compassionate release. Alas, another manager decided not to complete the process. The paperwork was finally completed the day before the prisoner died - still in prison.
The lesson the Ombudsman drew from this was a procedural one, regarding the time from prospective death within which such procedures should be began.
This follows an established pattern of thinking by the Ombudsman’s office. It focuses overwhelmingly upon procedures and processes. This is to overlook the human element - staff make up the procedures and processes, they are not some robotic bureaucracy that powers itself.
Where is the calling to account of staff in this - and other -complaints? Why is it that, no matter how wrong, stupid or illegal the matter at hand, I am unable to find a single recommendation by the Ombudsman that staff should face disciplinary action. Ever.