Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Money and Release
So we all thought that the days of having to buy your way out of prison were long gone! Open prisons are more expensive places to live than your average nick, because there are required expenses that just don't pop up in Closed prisons. As we spend much more time in the open then we need to buy suitable clothing. The prison issue tracksuit or jeans and jumper don't really cut it if you’re working day is a long and cold one. Woolly hats, gloves and a good jacket are not so much useful as prerequisites for life.
The essential point about Open prison, for long termers and Lifers at least, is to acclimatise us back into society. To that aim we are allowed to spend increasing amounts of time in the community, working, socialising with family, organising for eventual release...and all of this costs money. The bus fare to Derby is over half a week’s wage, for instance. Lunch has to be bought. And a couple of quid in the pocket to avoid the appearance of forever mooching off friends and family is also handy.
The prison does pay for some of this stuff, some of the time, but we are quickly thrown back onto our own resources - such as they are. This leads to the situation where some people don't take all their allowed time in the community because they just can't afford it on prison wages.
You would think that being in paid employment in the community would ease this financial strain, that a more liberated lifestyle could be within reach. Ha! If a man is in paid work then the nick withdraws all financial support for reintegration. Due to the 40 percent Victims Tax this means that there are men who are permanently broke because they have to pay for everything, including rail journeys home for home leave. On a minimum wage minus 40 percent, you can appreciate that money and the lack of it is a serious problem.
Such, you may say, is life. True, true... except that the purpose of our being here is to resettle us in the community. These activities are not optional. If I don't have sufficient completed town visits or home leaves by the time of my parole hearing, then I don't get released. In such circumstances, having us fund a large portion of our resettlement activities comes perilously close to us having to buy our way out of prison. And those that can't afford it?
I realise that the nation is broke. A part of that is due to you lot being so greedy as to grab any and every bit of credit you could lay your hands on! For once, a disaster has happened and I can honestly say it has bugger all to do with prisoners. It is all the fault of the free society! One consequence of the screwed economy is that the prison system is also poor, leading to situations such as our funding our resettlement. The economy is broke but I'm damned if I can see why prisoners should carry the can.