Comments: Prisons

Having spent some time in prison chaplaincy, I must agree with Bishop James Jones, that too many people are sent to prison to get them out of the way. This is neither redemptive nor without other costs - to the families of the imprisoned, and to the society against which they have offended.

The real problem would seem to be that it is very difficult to convince society of the advantages of community sentencing. One real incentive might be the realisation that, in prison, the prisoner has no way of providing monetary compensation for the people she/he has wronged. Community-based sentencing, with proper supervision at home and in the work-place, could help the offender to regain some of the self-esteem he/she has lost - thus rendering them less of a threat to their family's survival and to the community.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 12 January 2012 at 2:32am GMT

In fact, you do not have to be in the UK to listen to radio programmes on BBC i-player. Through the magic of the interwebs, BBC radio is available in at least some other countries (I can't confidently say that it can be heard everywhere). But shhhh! Don't tell anyone! If the Daily Mail finds out, they'll launch a crusade to stop foreigners benefitting from our licence fee...

Posted by rjb at Thursday, 12 January 2012 at 3:26am GMT

While the focus is on prisons, I would hope the good bishop's remit would include developing greater chaplaincy involvement on behalf of those held in the immigration detention centres throughout the UK. This would be consistent with Archbishop of Canterbury's admirable advocacy on this matter.

In particular, he should lead calls for an official public enquiry into the appalling conditions that lead to inordinately high levels of mental and physical illness, suicide and grave self-harm. There are several instances of asphyxiation sustained by deportees through negligent the use of potentially lethal restraint methods.

I know the cost of an enquiry, vetting the over-regulated private sector and implementing greater safeguards on detainee treatment would be yet another blow to the already beleaguered UK economy, but it may still fall short of the amount that we spend on fireworks in this year's Olympic festival. The moral cost of turning a blind eye is even greater.

Perhaps, as with the Appropriate Adult Voluntary Scheme, these detention centres should involve a team of trained volunteer observers, from all walks of life, working in co-ordination with each diocese to run 'spot checks' in conjunction with chaplaincy arrangements.

May God bestow upon his church the 'gift of tongues' afresh, enabling many of us to understand, translate and vocalise the foreigner's plight in our country with empathy in plain English.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 14 January 2012 at 11:46am GMT
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