Monday, January 2, 2012
Being robbed, having one's hard earned shekels removed through threat is always unpleasant. When it is done by government diktat it is even worse.
This government has enacted the Prisoners' Earnings Act, a mechanism by which our paid work is made livelier by having the Minister of Justice hold a knife to our throat whilst menacingly whispering "give us yer money".
Once we reach the position of holding paid work in the community, we are subjected to the various deductions that signify "citizenship". And still no ability to vote... Taxes, National Insurance, the regular leeching of the State. Such is life. But the Prisoners' Earnings Act adds to that burden. They then remove a full 40% of the remainder in our wallets, excepting the last measly 20 quid. And out of this remainder we have to pay for our travelling costs to work.
This is explicitly a "victims tax", the money being allocated to various services for victims of crime. And I don't like it one bit.
Being fined - that is what this is - is a judicial sentence, one of many at the disposal of the Courts. And having politicians inventing and enforcing additional sentences decades after the crime took place just sticks in my craw.
It also risks increasing the number of future victims under that well established principle of prison policy making, "unintended consequences". Our successful resettlement into the community is to the general good. But if we work hard and then have our money taken, what does that tell us about the benefits of honest labour, the work ethic? Perhaps the lesson is that criminal enterprises are tax free and so more likely to help us stand on our feet?
Before this pathetic grab for the tabloid vote, Lifers - myself ! - had a chance of leaving open prison having worked and earned to have a deposit for a home, or being able to support our families. Now we risk being sluing out into society with bugger all, with the added insult to the taxpayer of then being a burden on the social security system. Sentencing is the domain of the Court system, not politicians. Victims have a range of avenues to seek redress, from compensation orders to even suing their assailant. But to have all this disregarded and substituted by a grubby self-defeating political spasm makes me sick.
Labels: prison wages