Monday, November 5, 2012

Prison Staff

To talk about "prison staff" is an invitation to fall into the same trap that catches those who talk of "prisoners". There is no homogeneous group to which particular characteristics can be ascribed, either when talking about staff or prisoners. Each collective comprises a disparate amalgamation of types, personalities, interests, needs and intentions.

That said.....The place of prison officers in the debates around reoffending is that of bystander. I have yet to see any mention of the role or influence of staff in the discussion, they are treated as an irrelevance. And yet wing staff - the archetypal screw - are the authority figures which have the most dealings with prisoners and so could be said have the potential to influence their charges.

Some may recall my brief appearance on the (illegal!) blog run by anonymous prison staff. in good faith I was hoping to generate debate, to tease out any strands of common humanity that may exist between staff and cons. As ever, I was challenging but never abusive, playing the argument and not the man.

This was a dismal failure. I was bombarded by abuse, banned from the site and was followed by some screws who take advantage of my anti-censorship stance to post abuse here on my blog. And even though i failed to create dialogue, the attempt was instructive in the sense of gaining an insight into the outlook and belief systems of some staff. And I stress that caveat, "some staff". Generalising from those posting on their blog is as meaningless as generalising about prisoners from my blog.

There is a mindset amongst some staff that lags somewhat behind the research.....Crime is simply a matter of free choices and crims make such choices deliberately. And it follows from such views that prison staff have no role to play in reducing reoffending; it is nothing to do with them.

Of course, such a view of criminality is far removed from the reality, where crime is committed by the stupid, desperate, addicted, drunk, mentally ill....and the selfish. To suggest that prison staff have no role is to reduce them to being very expensive turnkeys.

The divide between some staff and prisoners may be important in shaping the view that the crim has of society as a whole. As a carrier of societies attitudes, as a barometer of authority, then being dealt with by staff who believe that you are "scum" or "vermin" (as said here and on their blog) inevitably colours your view of society - and then your view of whether it is either possible or sensible to try to live a straight life.

The role of Probation staff, Education staff and Psychology staff within prisons is debated and they are attributed with a place in reducing offending. it is strange that the staff most in contact with prisoners, then, is relegated to a sidenote, a caricature, and that this is allowed to pass unchallenged.

That some staff embrace a view of indifference to any role in reoffending is an abrogation of professional as well as social responsibility. we pay the price for it, both in their healthy terms of employment and in terms of future victims.

Prison staff should be challenged, not only for any wrongful acts they commit (brutality at Dartmoor, Scrubs and Frankland are low-lights of such) but for their deliberate refusal to engage with those they call "vermin". Because they have immense opportunities to change attitudes and to encourage the exploration of new, pro social, paths in life and the neglect of this potential is itself criminal.

37 comments:

  1. You also forgot 'Maggots' Ben.

    Anyone who works in a profession that has in its remit to rehabilitate offenders but only thinks of them as vermin etc. and extols the virtues of being only interested in victims needs to take a long hard look at their contribution to furthering the plight of victims.

    Chuck.

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  2. Here we go again.....
    Lets forget the fact that you appear to have plagiarised chunks of text from " the prison officer" by Alison Liebling, and explore you latest attempt at insightful extemporising ( which, again, is hardly mesmerising)
    Why start your post in a half way positive manner, suggesting that it would be wrong to conglomerate all prison officers into the couldn't care less/ despise prisoners group, and then finish it ( last couple of paragraphs particularly) by separating them out from other prison workers such as psychs, probation officers and ( your favourites) teachers, and then roundly condemning prison officers as couldn't care less/ despise prisoner types??
    As for your comment about us all contributing to their " healthy terms of employment" I trust you're excluding yourself from that "us" given that you haven't paid very much tax or NI in the last three decades?
    And dont forget Ben for every " lowlight" of prison officers behaviour (such as Dartmoor, Scrubs and Frankland) there are plenty of lowlights of prisoner behaviour such as the pan of boiling chip fat in the face of two officers at Long Lartin or the slashed throat at Wakefield or the hostage takings etc, but you didn't see ( or perhaps choose not to acknowledge) any of that did you?

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    1. So, since you are clearly an officer, would you care to put a real name to your comments?

      Personally I like the fact you are here - some of what you are saying is actually sensible, though the level of bile attached doesn't help present your case.

      I am sure that if you came in as "devils advocate" or similar, Ben and others would be happier to debate with you. I would still seek to tear your position apart, but would play the ball, not the man. However, While you remain anonymous, you remain both a target and a coward.

      Officers that gain the respect of their charges are not as few and far between as some would suggest - but it's the bad ones that everyone remembers. I can name a few good from my time, and there are some I would even buy a drink for. Why not gain a name and become one, because I will defend your rights to your opinions if you have the courage and conviction to stand by them.

      Delete
    2. Here you go again.

      I got the feeling that the phrase' some staff' was used by the author to explain that not all staff are a pain in the a**e, (unlike you obviously). This thread in no way tarred all staff with the same brush, but you are doing a sterling job in convincing us otherwise.

      As for your examples of prison officers being assaulted, terrible events that they are, they are insignificant compared to the regular assaults on prisoners by prison officers.

      Chuck.

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    3. @Anon 6.47 (anon officer...)

      If you are going to accuse me of plagiarism then I invite you to substantiate it or withdraw it. I am assuming an apology is beyond your moral compass.

      As a smoker I have coughed up about 80% of every penny earned in taxes, a far higher rate than you and so "us" does include me.

      I separate landing staff out from the other specialist staff groups because they have an overt role in addressing reoffending whereas landing staff do not. Going by the comments on your illegal blog, many staff don't want to have any part in that function of prison.

      And yes, prisoners have done some pretty horrible things. If you had read further back in the blog you would know that I once helped save a female officer from being taken hostage and raped. But this doesn't detract from the point of staff illegality and brutality.

      And again the jibe about my partner....Honestly, I am assuming that the POA is sending along their best and brightest to pitch in here. Sadly, that may be true.....

      And I would be interested in how you see your moral position, running an illegal blog whilst taking hefty chunks of taxpayers money to teach cons how to live a law abiding life?

      Delete
    4. Anon@ 6.47

      I've put Ben's post through Turitin anti plagiarism software and it returns a similarity of 0%. I also have Liebling's book and can find nothing similar in it to Ben's post. So either provide evidence of plagiarism or apologise. Simple!

      Chuck

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  3. It's a good point that the role of prison staff can be overlooked, especially in researching reducing reoffending. Anecdotally I've listened to how these interactions and relationships can be hugely influential in supporting or triggering change.

    It would be interesting to know Ben, what you think about how prison staff can influence reducing reoffending rates.

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    1. That is a broad topic and I promise to return to it!

      Delete
  4. After my release on licence I met two retired prison officers in my area who treated me almost like a colleague. I won't say I met with no bad screws, but most were trustworthy. They tended to be somewhat rulebound, as one might expect, and might not score tops for imagination, but I sometimes look at the scene from their perspective and wonder what working full-time in prisons does to a person's self-esteem. If they feel down, they will probably make hard work for the inmates so, in retrospect, I think I might have tried harder to make them feel better about themselves. Easier to say this from were I am now, perhaps.

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  5. Every con knows there are decent screws roaming the landings, who given the chance, could/would make a positive contribution to their well-being and rehabilitation. But as a result of having to share their lives and duties with the likes of Anon@6.47, suspicion abounds. As a consequence, *all* the rules and lines of engagement become blurred.

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  6. I blame the parents. If your parents never respected your ownership of your stuff, you're unlikely ever to respect anyone else's. If your parents knocked you around and threw things at you, you'll always struggle to avoid seeing that as normal.

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    1. Cirrocumulus,

      If you replace your word 'parents' with the word 'prison officer' you might see the problem with recidivism. Once again, I'm not saying that ALL prison officers do not take on the duty of care responsibility seriously but there are plenty, (see the prison officers blog), who clearly do NOT care about their charges.

      If you think about it in terms of young/ juvenile offenders, (whose re-offending rate is higher than adults), prison staff take on the role of parents/care givers. If they do not care about those in their charge then they contribute to the re-offending rates and ultimately to the plight of further victims.

      It's a pity that they only see crime as a rational choice!

      Chuck

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    2. Chuck - firstly well done for bringing a name to the table. It does make a difference, and it means that we can know you are the person makeing the arguments, and thus respectfully seek to dissuade you.

      My history is simple. I'm a professional con-man, who got caught once (2300 TIC) and never broke the law again. However, I fell in love with someone inappropriate, and ended up sentenced to a little over 5 years as a result. She and I are now engaged, life is good.

      The acquisitive crime, fine, I was doing it because I knew my chances of conviction were negligible. But once convicted, I knew my chances were higher and stopped. 1 night on remand in Belmarsh in 1999 also asssted my decision to go straight.

      When I was released in 2010 from my 5 years, I started a blog. And one of my postings says "Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I was still inside. At least I wouldn't have to face all of this shit!"

      when I came out I had to survive for 6 weeks on £46 and a travel warrant. This was in a self-catering hostel in Cornwall, where my reporting restrictions were so tight that I have to be in the hostel for 16 hours a day, and report back every hour if I went out. The nearest supermarket was 90 minutes away... Once I got moved to my current address, I got no support from Northants Probation at all, not even a visit from my OM to my new flat.

      During my time on licence, I was refused the opportunity to work in any way at all, refused permission to go anywhere other thsn my home, and was beaten up and suffered a fractured skull from a gang of thugs engaged by my ex-wife. Then I got recalled because she lied about me, for which she is currently enjoying the dubious pleasures of HMP Holloway.

      I assume my experience of release and licence is not unusual, as I was not an unusual offender.

      So, given the experience I had, I can see why so many people re-offend. Sometimes it's the only way to get back to a regime that provides certainty and security.

      Now consider how often you see the same (non acquisitive or non-violent) faces back on recall, but then never hear of them again.

      Regrettably, in acquisitive matters, Crime pays. That's why they make the choice. Most thieves don't get custodials in the first place, get out on Tag etc. They don't get recalled, they get re-convicted. The "same old faces" are the recalls...

      Delete
    3. Fenir,

      I think you'll find many a post on the whole blog under the name Chuck. You might be mistaking me for another Anon.

      Chuck

      Delete
  7. STOP trying to apportion blame on Prison Officers & take responsibility for your own actions.It is not Officers who put you in jail,you are there because of your own actions.This has resulted in a Court of law finding you guilty of an offence.You therefore have to pay a price to society & that is deemed as your separation from society because of your reluctance to conform to the rules of society.Officers are NOT carers nor parents nor friends nor do we want to hear of your remorse.We have far more important things to concern ourselves over such as our own families etc. We don't burden you with our issues & you have no right to burden us either!

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    1. Hi anon @ 2.11pm, or should I call you stormtrooper or snowdrop;-)?

      I'm assuming your post was directed at me? If so it is soooo way off the mark as to be comical. You seem to dip in and out of this blog, read want you want to read and then make some ridiculous assumption that everybody who doesn't support your draconian and very outdated point of view must be a con or ex-con or have been found guilty in a court of law.

      I can assure you that I am none of those, non of my family or friends have ever been your 'guests' and I am also not, or ever have been, a prison officer, (although that is not to say I am unfamiliar with the landings of many an establishment in the penal estate of England and Wales).

      Of course you don't care about prisoners or want to hear of prisoners remorse because it is just a job to you. God forbid that prison numbers are reduced because your sphincter will be twitching like hell at the prospect of losing your job. I propose that it is your best interest to treat prisoners like crap so they come back through your door so as to keep you employed.

      The family that you go back to therefore are in great danger from the people you don't care about. After all, 'see you soon' seems to be a phrase used frequently by, I reiterate, 'some' prison officers. In order to see the cons again, there have to be victims. This completely goes against your idea that you are protecting victims.

      Chuck

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    2. If anyone can find a single instance where I've not taken responsibility for my crime, I'd love to see the quote.

      Delete
  8. Chuck @ 3pm,what a rant.You really haven't got a clue like most other lost souls on this blog.You can call me by whatever name you want to as I couldn't care less.Facts remain-those in jail obviously deserve to be there! I'll dip in here as & when I want to-you'll never know for sure.

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  9. Anon, aka snowdrop342 @ 4.14.

    If you think my post was a rant you are seriously paranoid and deluded.

    I will ask the question based on your monotonous assertion, (in the vain hope that you will answer it), 'those in jail obviously deserve to be there'! Please provide some evidence that that is the case?

    Dip in as much as you want, I'm quite sure that you can be recognised everytime. Your lack of spacial awareness is not your only tell. Bet your crap at cards;-)

    Chuck

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  10. What's this snowdrop342 thing? I'll add my name to my posts-Mike-so you'll know it's me. Deserve to be there-as they're sentenced by a Court lf law-is that really difficult to understand or are you really thick? I will 'dip in' whenever I'm bored & you'll know it's me as my spelling is correct-unlike you retards! MIKE

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    1. Now you've proved you can crawl out of your hole at will....why not have a go at answering Bens post from November 6, 2012 11:20 AM?

      Delete
  11. Dear snowdrop, you know who you are.

    From your post @4.50

    'you'll know it's me as my spelling is correct - unlike you retards!'

    'they're sentenced by a Court 'lf' law'

    Need anyone say more?

    Apologies Ben for dragging this down to their level.

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  12. Anon-simple mistake,you never made one so simple? Darby-I've no need to answer it as I never posed the question in the first place.If I did,I would. I'll not lower myself to your insulting level but I would like to. MIKE

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  13. Sorry Ben but,

    Meant to add to my last inflammatory post, that anons answer@ 4.50 'Deserve to be there-as they're sentenced by a Court lf law' is not really evidence. Or are we being told that courts have NEVER got it wrong EVER?!!?!

    Courts finding defendants guilty is NO guarantee that they are 'actually' guilty. The adversarial system is based on anything but a search for the truth. It's just which version is the most believable at the time.

    Chuck.

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  14. There lies the problem with all you sceptics.If the court is not to be believed then we might as well have anarchy on the streets.Unbelievable train of thought. MIKE

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    1. Can you honestly say hand on heart that the courts do not make mistakes Mike?

      Chuck

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    2. There are, of course, innocent people in prison who were wrongly convicted by courts.

      this situation has always interested me, as some are so blatantly innocent that even screws accept it.

      And yet....they need, perhaps, to have a touching faith in the certainty of guilt in order to shield themselves from the morality of doing horrible things to innocent people?

      Delete
  15. Anon aka Mike @ 5.10,

    You are a gem.

    You call the posters 'retards' because you can spell correctly and then make a spelling mistake yourself. Better than that, you attempt to justify it.

    You are a case study for my 'medical buddies' that's for sure.

    Come back soon.

    Chuck.

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  16. The blatant disservice he does his profession, only just outweighs how proudly he wears the badge of the 'Dog Screw'.

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  17. Your post reminds me of something I heard a prison governor say about prison officers having the primary role of rehabilitation, "rehabilitation begins in the way an officer opens the cell door in the morning", or something like that. It's something I am reminded of most days (I work in prisons - not as an officer) in terms of pro-social modelling and so on.

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  18. Prison, Nick, Jail, they have been around for thousands of years, as Dungeons! I look at this from a logical standpoint. If these things have been around so long, isn't it time to realize, that the system was always rotten, through, and through! If you are trying to find Hell, then look no more, you're in it! The system of Hell, is from the Top, to the Bottom, rotten, and secretly evil. Corrupt lords, ladies, politicians, police, judges, doctors, prison staff, lawyers, bankers, arms dealers, military, MI this, MI that, linked masterfully by freemasons! The money is the route of all evil, and this place is operated by money, from Top, to Bottom, making it the "Real Hell"! This is not a halfway place, between the Divine, and Hell, as money is the give away, as to what it truly is! So, let us start by pulling a few plugs out, eh?

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