Print

Are prisons back in the news because those in control are suddenly troubled by a conscience, the very virtue which optimists hope that stone walls and iron bars will stir in their hapless victims?

Could it be through some feeling of guilt - another aspiration the government seemingly hopes for from the locked-away – only guilt of the government’s over the stupendous cost to those on the outside, the taxpayer, for this Anglo-American excuse for lockin ‘em up and throwing away the key.

... He has served his 18 years. He’s asked the prison, his MP, the Justice minister, the Pakistan Embassy, when he will be sent home. No-one seems to be able to tell him. Well, for whatever reason, no-one is telling him.
Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Prison term done .... But no-one can say when Abs' costly captivity will end. Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash, with many thanks to the artist and the excellent website.

Whatever the cause, there it was in the BBC’s radio news this morning.

Only, this spot of penal reform was not aired in the name of humanity but instead over the fortune squandered through locking up short-termers.

Critics say its massively expensive and totally useless.

No mention of a much more unjust and vastly more expensive other side.

Readers may remember the case of the good fellow we’re calling Abs.

£1.2 million

Abs has served the sentence for murder – even though it is hard to imagine a less likely killer.

The prosecution must have thought so, too, for they kept reminding the jury of Abs’ Moslem faith, and somehow linking the faith and the crime and Abs to the 9/11 horror.

In the article, Abs revealed the cost of keeping him locked up as a Category A prisoner - £1.2 million. Abs said ...

‘It’s a fortune … it is being wasted on a foreigner who didn’t want to be here and could have been deported a long time ago.

‘When he was Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke promulgated the legislation to deport foreign prisoners on completion of their minimum compulsory terms of imprisonment. …

‘In spite of it, countless foreigners who want to be deported remain in British jails. Consequentially, governments have to spend additional hundreds of millions to build new prisons.

‘If releasing British prisoners is acceptable, in spite of their 50% re-offending rate, why are foreign prisoners kept locked up here?

'After all, British prisoners will re-offend, harming fellow citizens and returning to jail, whereas the latter will probably never see Britain nor a British soul again.

Done the time

‘Could there be a simpler way to cut the waste of such colossal sums of taxpayers’ money? Probably not. Would you not prefer your government to spend these millions of pounds on the elderly, the homeless, and your children?’

Now Abs has served his 18 years. He’s asked the prison, his MP, the Justice minister, the Pakistan Embassy, when he will be sent home. No-one seems to be able to tell him. Well, for whatever reason, no-one is telling him.

So the colossal cost of keeping this one man in an English prison, this non-Briton who will never be able to visit UK again, continues, even though he has served every minute of the 18-year sentence.

He remains a Category A fellow, kept here at a cost of … well, divide £1.2 million by 18.

Thanks for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

Links:
Abs' story