Thursday, May 17, 2012
Prison Work, again
So Ken Clarke wants to increase the amount of work that prisoners do for outside companies. This is a far cry from his last Green Paper which introduced the Rehabilitation Revolution (which I'm still awaiting some distant evidence of).
Employing prisoners is a commercial no-brainer for any company which is happy to use forced labour to increase its profit margins. They pay us what could be the Minimum Wage for a few hours work outside but then receive a 38 hour working week out of us. They don't even have to worry about compelling us to work - the prison management deals with that unpleasant side of the arrangement, allowing these companies to deny that they are in any way responsible.
The latest proposals are an admission of defeat for the Rehab Revolution. This suggested that we be engaged in real work with real pay, which was then clawed back by the nick under various guises. Now, even this idea has died. Instead, outside companies are being encouraged to engage with prisons on the current terms - forced labour for pocket money wages.
Quite how is this an improvement? Forcing a man to work for a pittance is hardly likely to increase his appreciation for the "work ethic"; it is just as likely to nudge him over the line into believing that crime is a far better path to riches.
Yet again a proposal which included some meritorious thinking has been slaughtered and offered as a lump of votive meat to populism. Cutting crime and reintegrating prisoners into the community comes a long way behind pleasing the Tory backbenches.
Look at your political leaders. And look carefully at the proposals which you support or vote for. And then ask yourself if I'm off the mark for suggesting that you have the reoffending rate that you deserve.
Labels: rehabilitation revolution