I was recently asked to be a guest speaker on an American live radio show to talk about the collateral damage of injustice and corruption in US prisons. The show is aired from Colorado Springs, so in order to be able to talk about local issues, as I usually cover correctional facilities in Florida, I set about researching prisons in Colorado – which also led me to Louisiana – and I came across a company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) that changed their name to Core Civic in October 2016 during ongoing scrutiny of the private prison industry in the US.
- Prison – noun – a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial.
- One of the Ministry of Justices’ four strategic priorities is “A prison and probation service that reforms offenders” (Ministry of Justice).
Number one is definitely the case, but what about number two? Well, based on the latest government figures in relation to self-harm, violence, and suicides, I would suggest that the Ministry of Justice is not delivering on one of its key strategic priorities.
A slightly misleading title. It should be RJ and R, but it just didn’t have the same ring.
So, what is RJ and R? Restorative Justice and Rehabilitation.
Why am I taking a closer look at these?
by Adam Edwards
If this is how the Queen treats her prisoners, she doesn’t deserve to have any.
— Oscar Wilde
Every few months the ongoing tit-for-tat between the UK government and the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg develops. Strasbourg will insist that the UK must extend suffrage to the country’s imprisoned populace, and UK politicians will line up to express how nauseating they find the idea. It’s a piece of political theatre that unfolds with the predictable reliability of a soap opera.
It should serve to remind us as to the purpose prisons serve. Episodes like this ought to help us scratch the Ministry of Justice’s PR varnish enough to remember that prisons exist primarily as an expression of the power of the state over the individual; cross the line and we will lock you up. Not only will we take your liberty, but inasmuch as we seek to ‘rehabilitate’ and ‘reform’ you, we will take your identity too. We will arrest your body and your conscience alike; we will isolate you and remove you. While we’ve got the keys, you don’t exist. Just cross the line.