The Ministry of Justice under the Coalition has moved to cut the number of luxuries available to prisoners.
Having spent three and a half years in prison and only the last three months in open conditions for a crime I played no part in, I can say that there are no ‘luxuries’ in prison.
The punishment is loss of liberty –not being with your family, not having the freedom of choice to do normal things. It is torturous not to be mentally stimulated.
The prison population is made up of people of all ages and the range of mental capabilities and cultures all having different needs.
I would suggest that those who watch significant television or play on computer games (Xbox which they have to save up for and purchase) cannot find stimulation in other activities, such as reading or writing.
Work offered in prison usually consists of trivial activity, where 5 prisoners are given the work of 1 person in the real world, including: cleaning, kitchens, gardens, workshops, sorting cloth bank, welding, preparing breakfast packs etc.
Education on offer is at such a basic level, which is fine for the uneducated, however most prisoners are either mentally retarded or pretty bright.
Physical exercise is very limited – exercise time of half an hour per day walking around a yard. So to have access to a gym 2 or 3 days per week I would suggest is essential (I used the treadmill and rowing machines).
If inmates are not kept stimulated and busy this is when tempers rise and things ‘kick off’ over the most trivial of things, which makes prison dangerous for staff and inmates.
I can assure you that prison is a miserable and pretty barbaric experience, and certainly no ’holiday camp’.
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