Posts Tagged 'Prison'

Is it now too late for Britain? (part 2)

Following on from the previous post, is this quote part of a speech we can expect to see delivered in London some day in decades to come?

Today, this Parliament, on behalf of the people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering.

We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children.

Can we expect to hear and read stories of how some mothers were drugged, while others had their signatures were forged, so the government and its agencies could take children away ‘for their own good and for the good of society’ and give them to childless couples to adopt?

This is what happened between the 1950s and the 1970s in Australia and text above is an edited part of the state apology delivered by Julia Gillard.  The thoroughly evil practice of snatching children from their parents and giving them to strangers was driven by a combination of religious fervour and moral outrage at the existance of single mothers, who were considered to be scandalising society.  I am not a fan of people apologising for the historical actions of others, over which they had no influence or involvement.  But the fact one was considered necessary for those children who were torn away from their mothers and as adults are trying to deal with it even now, speaks volumes.

It was a repugnant policy that was enforced by self regarding, intolerant people who believed they knew what was best for everyone else and abused their power to effect their vision.  That pattern of behaviour should sound eerily familar.

Yet despite that apology being issued in Australia only two months ago, we see in the UK today a Judge advocating exactly that kind of action by the state.

As if this modern day tilt fascist, untrammelled state power wasn’t enough, many of the comments of the brain-dead drones who inhabit the Daily Wail’s comment threads wouldn’t be out of place at a Nazi eugenics conference.  These are the ‘centre right’ people who supposedly rail against an overbearing state intruding into the lives of ordinary Britons.  Yet throw them exactly that kind of proposition, wrapped in the dog-whistle red meat of ‘law and order’, and suddenly the red mist descends, logic evaporates and they believe there aren’t nearly enough jackboots marching along government corridors.

We already have those of ‘the left’ giving endorsement to concept of the state owning the population and doing what it sees fit, when it likes.  This has already resulted in too many children being snatched from families by social services – often without any evidence of a child protection issue or just cause – after secret court hearings that are closed to the public, and with sinister restrictions placed on the families to not even discuss the facts of the case, or risk being imprisoned for ‘contempt’ of court. Some of these children have been pushed through the adoption system, only for their parents to be subsequently exonerated of any wrong doing, but prevented from taking back custody.

Now we have those of ‘the right’ baying for babies to be snatched in exactly the same way from anyone tagged as a criminal, prostitute or drug user.  Clearly they are too stupid to recall just months ago their outrage at children being removed from their foster parents because they were supporters of UKIP and therefore considered by some bureaucrats to be ‘racist’ – and that their approval of snatching children the state has identified as being ‘in the interests of the child’ from other families has the capacity to be extended on a whim beyond ‘criminals’ and used as a broad weapon of coercion to force people who challenge the state into complying with its demands.

This is one of those points where I wonder if the effort of trying to democratise this country is worth it, hence the title of these linked posts.  The spittle flecked outrage of the semi literate morons applauding a disturbing call for a dramatic increase in state power and the ability to steal children in the way described makes me think they deserve to be stuck with the spiteful bastards they are giving succour to.

Perhaps we should let them suffer the inevitable consequences down the line when their willingness to heap power into the hands of unaccountable politicians and bureaucrats who will rig the system still further to suit their own ends, come back to bite them on the arse.  Then they will bloody well have cause to be outraged.  Perhaps it is too late to save this country from itself.

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Is it now too late for Britain? (part 1)

A (thankfully) retiring Judge, Alan Goldsack QC, has made a speech calling for the forced snatching of babies by the state from mothers or families, to stop them from following said parents into crime, prostitution or drug use:

Some people become criminals because they enjoy crime and think it’s a good way of life and if they don’t get caught they think they can have a good lifestyle.

But a frightening thing is the number of people I see who are the grandchildren of the people I have prosecuted and defended 40 years ago – because crime runs in families in the same way that being a doctor, teacher or lawyer does.

We have to get in on the ground and remove young babies from the families that are going to produce the next generation of criminals, and that is why I did family law right up until the end because I think it is very important work.

I have read so many pre-sentence reports where I said to myself ‘why was this person not adopted at birth? All the signs were there’.

How about the likes of Goldsack stopping and thinking about why known criminals who have gone through the justice system are re-offending?  We have too few prison spaces that allow inmates to go through rehabilitation and be helped to change their behaviour and start building skills they can take into the community after their release.  Many just need to be given a chance to sort their lives out. Yes, some people are plain criminal and will re-offend.  Fine. Leave them locked up for longer where they can do no more harm to society.

It’s not the failed care system that should bear all the blame in the way Goldsack asserts.  It’s the failed penal system that keeps turning out on to the street unreformed offenders who have been coddled with a raft of facilities they probably couldn’t afford on the outside, and allowed to take drugs to ensure prison officers get a quieter time of it.  Goldsack’s vision is one of surrender to the inevitability of repeat offending and shifting blame away from the legal system he is part of.  It’s pathetic.

It is only the suggestion of a retiring Judge, but make no mistake the Common Purpose indoctrinated elements of social services will seize upon it and push it up the agenda.  Give this additional power to the state and there will be injustices and corruption by the bucket load as rights are trampled down and the bonds between many mothers and children up and down the country are severed without good cause or effective checks and balances.

Ford Prison riot underlines government incompetence

News of the riot at Ford Open Prison in Sussex will not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed events there over recent years.

The ‘inmates’ rioted because prison officers had the temerity to attempt to administer breath tests after alcohol was found in the prison. Any attempt by an offender in an open prison to evade such a test should result in automatic return to a higher category prison, but there is no effective sanction. The system at Ford is so lax and lacking in basic resources it has previously experienced problems with burglars going into the prison to steal items. Documents have also been removed by ‘inmates’ due to the lax conditions. For years there have been repeated reports of drugs, alcohol and mobile phones being taken into Ford at will, despite these items being banned as they should be in a prison. But Ford is a prison in name only.

‘Prisoners’ come and go almost at will, irrespective of the terms of their resettlement release, because their rooms are unlocked and it is easy to leave the grounds. Many wander out at night to buy drink and drugs, blatantly flouting the regulations. The place is a government run holiday camp that far from preparing offenders for release back into society practically leaves them to their own devices when they are not working in the vegetable plots or the workshops.

But what else can we expect when over 200 ‘inmates’ are being supervised by only two prison officers and four support staff? Is it any wonder over 70 ‘inmates’ absconded in 2006 alone? Is it any wonder that a soft soap attempt to enforce the no alcohol rules among Ford’s ‘non violent’ offenders resulted in a riot, destruction of facilities and arson?

This is what happens when those in authority are not in charge and are continually starved by the government of the resources and manpower required to ensure the prison is run as it should be. The incompetence of successive governments is inexplicible given the tough talk about criminal justice. But when you understand that the promises are just rhetoric and the politicians have no intention of following through on their campaign pledges it all becomes clear.

Incidents like this give people opportunities to say that prison doesn’t work. Prison does work, but only when the regime is effective and offenders are rehabilitated in a disciplined environment. Ford is anything but a disciplined environment and that is the fault of governments who squander money on vanity projects but starve services essential in a civilised society of what they need.

The Howard League for Penal Eradication

That would be an appropriate name revision for the Howard League for Penal Reform. Over time the Howard League has shown its agenda to be not merely the reform of the penal system, but the eradication of effective and appropriate sentencing of criminals who have broken the law and thereby offended against society.

Note that description – offended against society. Someone who breaks the law is an offender. But to the aptly named Frances Crook, the head of Howard League, the word ‘offender’ is now considered to be an “insulting” term that demeans individuals and hinders their rehabilitation. You could not make this stuff up. She says:

“Someone who commits an offence is not an offender, they are someone who has done something [yes, committed an offence you idiotic dolt]. The action does not define the whole person. They may also do good things and they will certainly fit into other categories that can offer a different definition like parent or friend. By insisting that the offence overcomes all other parts of the person we are condemning them to a sub-human category for whom there is no hope.”

Offenders are not sent to prison for being a parent or a friend. They are sentenced for being an offender which is the only suitable and appropriate definition.  Frances Crook and her fellow travellers will not be content until there are no consequences or sanctions for offenders who commit crimes that mark them as part of a minority in society that refuses to conform to the law and feels entitled to cause harm and distress to other people.

The Howard League has become a parody of itself. Its permanent state of handwringing to minimise the punishment component of a sentence and focus exclusively on rehabilitation – which they believe should preferably be in the very society that needs to be protected from such offenders – demonstrates it has lost touch with reality.

Is there some kind of anarchist conspiracy in this country that is determined to undermine anything and everything?

Rarely does any form of interaction with the State achieve its required aim. There is always some antidote to common sense lurking ready to prevent people from rectifying a problem. There are always ‘rules’ and ‘procedures’ to follow that should take days and end up taking months. Then we have groups like the Howard League determined to stop any offender going to prison. We have groups determined to allow any migrant into this country who feels like pitching up here, regardless of the effect on infrastructure, services and required public spending to support them. We have organisations demanding the handout of every conceivable benefit and grant who don’t stop to think where the money to fund it will come from. We have groups that are determined to drag us back into the Georgian era in order to ‘fight climate change’ whose idea of a solution to this faux problem is to tax everyone to the hilt and if possible prevent the continuation of our species. There’s more besides. There is an insanity attending the bureacucracy that is destined to result in chaos. Is there any way out of it?

Britain caves in to European Court of Human Rights

The idea of general elections in the UK is to select the men and women who will make the laws that apply in this country. If a majority of the population believe something should be illegal, they should be able to elect MPs who will make it so. The judiciary can then apply the law accordingly. It’s a simple, democratic concept of self determination.

Problems start to arise when the judiciary assumes ownership of law making. When men and women, who are not subject to democratic oversight, circumvent the democratic legislative process and interpret law in a mischievous manner or formulate laws themselves in spite of the wishes of the public, democracy has broken down.

Such a scenario can be compounded when politicians export jurisdiction of certain legal matter to an overseas body.  A body that can issue binding judgements and that comprises a judiciary made up not just of experienced judges, but also of academics and activists from a myriad of countries with varying legal traditions. The scenario worsens when that body confers upon itself, without reference to any democratic structure, the right to develop and alter law as it sees fit. This is the space in which we find the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

That is the reason why this week the United Kingdom government, despite the overwhelming opposition of a majority of its citizens, will accept a ruling to allow prison inmates to vote in elections held in this country.

The arguments against giving prison inmates the vote – and explaining why voting is not a human right, rather an entitlement – have been covered on this blog previously here and here. As such there is no need to revisit the argument today, although I readily commend this post by His Grace on the subject which covers many of the points in my posts and subsequent comments from February this year – and importantly along with The Boiling Frog makes the distinction between the ECHR and the unrelated EU.

All that remains to be said is that this is the kind of undemocratic outcome that results from losing our national sovereignty. This is what happens when our political class gives up our political and judicial autonomy and accepts rule from remote and unaccountable structures completely alien to us. This is what happens when our long standing independence is surrendered to suit the interests of the political class.

Voting entitlement for prison inmates

Following recent focus on the ban on prisoners being allowed to vote, which has been covered here before, the government sneaked out a written answer to a question from Don Touhig MP on Thursday.

He asked if the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans to bring forward legislation to change the law which prevents prisoners from voting in general elections.  Michael Wills MP, a Minister of State at the MoJ, wrote:

The Government have recently undertaken the second stage consultation on this issue. We are currently considering the responses. The Government will then consider the next steps towards implementing the judgment in legislation.

Given that a significant majority of people in this country oppose the notion of prison inmates participating in the democratic process after offending against society, it will be interesting to see the consultation responses and the government’s next move.

In all probabaility the government will cave in to the European Court of Human Rights rather than represent the wishes of the voters who sent the MPs to Parliament.  That would show the real nature of what is supposed to be representative democracy in this country.

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Prisoner vote ban is not a human rights issue

The UK is coming under pressure to allow prison inmates to vote in elections, because according to campaign groups and the European Court of Human Rights, the human rights of prisoners denied a vote are being infringed.  Lord Ramsbotham, a former Chief Inspector of prisons is leading the charge, along with the activists from the Prison Reform Trust, Unlock and Barred from Voting.

Ramsbotham is lockstep with bureaucrats and those who are opposed to the concept of prison generally in believing it is a great injustice that the government has not allowed prisoners to vote, especially after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided it was unlawful to deny all sentenced prisoners voting rights in UK elections.  Today he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

‘The Grand Chamber of the European Court, in rejecting the government’s appeal against its ruling, said that there is no place under the convention system for automatic disfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion.’

Ramsbotham and the European Court are wrong.  This is another example of entitlements being wrongly defined as human rights.  Voting is not a human right, it is an entitlement granted to those in society who respect its laws.  People are not born with the right to vote, otherwise we would be carted off the polling station straight from the maternity wing.  So this should not be a matter for the European Court in the first place.  But as is the way with supranational bureacuracy, mission creep is seeing an increasing labelling of entitlements as rights, bringing control of certain matters under legal jurisdiction and the result is a perverse undermining the rule of law and ability of the state to impose appropriate sanctions on offenders.

Men and women who have been handed custodial sentences are not in prision because they have ‘offended public opinion’ as Ramsbotham ludicrously stated on the Today programme.  Such an assertion is idiotic in the extreme.  They are there because they have broken the law of the land by committing criminal offences that have caused harm or loss to other members of society.  After trial by a jury of their peers and being found guilty of a crime, inmates have been subsequently denied their liberty and ability to participate in society in order to protect the public, punish them for their offence and, if prison actually worked properly, rehabilitate them so they do not offend again.

Why should people who have broken the law and are serving a custodial sentence be allowed to vote for those representatives who we ask in principle to make that law?  The removal of voting entitlements from offenders whose crimes were so serious it warranted imprisonment is proportional and entirely appropriate.  Many people rightly argue that rights should never be separated from responsibilities and that society has to be able to impose consequences on those whose actions harm society.  But that argument confuses the matter at hand because as I said above this issue of votes for prisoners is not one of human rights, it is about the removal of an entitlement granted by the law of the land.  Remember, the state cannot grant us rights, they are ours by default.  Don’t be confused by it.  Prisoners should not be entitled to vote.

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