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.


  1. Having a flat rate seems strange. If you are paying for the crime, surely this should be adjusted for the nature of the crime? For example, if you were a reckless tithead and smashed into a car injuring numerous people, and your driving regarded sufficiently reckless to warrant prison, your insurance will still cover the damage to the victims, so it is not clear who you are supposed to be repaying.

    Also, murder is not an economic crime. I find it slightly insulting to suggest that a human life can be repaid by a prisoner giving over some money they have earned.

  2. The point is this money doesn't go to the 'victim' of the prisoner who it is being taken from. It goes into some pot which is used to fund victim support organisations, who I suspect have had their Goverment funding reduced. As Ben says a 'tabloid vote' policy nothing more nothing less.

  3. They fuck some people over for more than 50% on the outside. We're all in the same boat.

  4. It is, of course, just political grandstanding. The money will probably go to pay for the so-called 'Victims' Commissioner''s headed stationery.

    If you think that this is galling though, what about the poor bastards who were fitted up and spent years in prison for something they couldn't possibly have done, and then had a huge chunk of their compo stolen from them (by the courts, I might add) for 'bed and board' expenses incurred by the state who put them in prison and refused to release them?

  5. You still think it's just prisoners! (Mimes banging head against wall.) You wait.
    People who work part-time but still qualify for social security are allowed £5 a week for the expenses of going to work. It hasn't gone up since 1988. It won't pay your bus fares nowadays. The rest of your wages comes off your benefits. Incentive to work? Not at all.

  6. Could you put in a claim for the benefit of: "Employment and Support Allowance", ideal for the person if their health is not too good, but can do some work. It might help to pay fares tor going to work.

  7. ESA is a replacement for the disability money, it is not a supplement for the dole.

    The new fitness tests are administered by people who are paid to sign people off as fit for work so tend to do so all the time (one example, guy with no use of arms/legs was declared fit for work as he could work in a call centre!)

    If you actually win an appeal proving you're not in fact fit for work, they can just reassess you after a week or two and claim you're fit again, so you're stuck in a never ending cycle.

    ESA is designed to bring the figures down, nothing more or less. (already there are several times the number of people unemployed at any one time the number of vacancies available so this isn't going to help anyone)

  8. Hey, I know, you can do the lottery. Now there's an idea, it'd solve all your problems and make all your dreams come true if you won, don't forget that you have to be in it to win it after all ... its not a con or a tax on the poor, its not the same as gambling either, everyone does it. Its a great way to solve all your problems; just use money got from other people, yes!

  9. Things have changed since I was at Sudbury. We could get £200 per week cash in hand and pay no tax.

  10. @ Its a Rap: how does the lottery company make its profit then?

  11. Cirrocumulus: by exploiting people's dreams about getting out of poverty.

  12. Hi Ben Its Irish Steve we met in Erlestoke very briefly until the powers that be mainly Governor Knight tried to stitch me up and held me in the block unlawfully. If you can remember i got an IPP for a phone call. Well I got my parole and was released form the Verne on the 05/09/2011 and am back home in Belfast and enjoying it. Although I had a few problems with probation they seem to be leaving me alone. Anyway I'm glad to hear that you got your D-cat and 2012 brings you more good news. All the best!!!!


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