I’m sitting on a sofa in what could be my Grandmothers house from many years ago. I study the dated decor but notice the infinite cleanliness of the house which is the product of 50 years marriage. I am sitting next to a very elderly lady with a perfectly formed perm. She has pools of tears welling from warm but sad eyes which have seen 80 years of emotion. Eyes which have witnessed love, happiness and tragedy. Her dignity and pride is trying to keep back her tears because her late husbands memory has been taken from her in the night. His war medals were lovingly polished and kept as the only memory she had of him, and they have now been snatched from her whilst she lay sleeping. Each piece of metal he had proudly worn on remembrance days reminded them both of how he had put his life forward to defend his young soldier friends and his country, those young men who died in front of him, those memories he would try to forget and could certainly never utter a word of.
I look across to her, and I can offer nothing. She is frightened as her home has been violated to an extent that her vulnerabilities she never thought she even had have come rushing to the surface. She will never feel the same, and her husbands medals have been sold for less than a ten pounds to buy a hit of heroin. That’s what his memory has been turned to now.
Time after time there is an accusation of light sentencing for serious crimes. Speak to a lawyer and a human rights one especially, there will be a host of reasons why we should give people a 2nd, 3rd and more chances. I have met people who have done things so terrible to vulnerable defenseless people you may want worse than prison for them, but then there is the grey area, and life gets a little complicated.
Some prisoners prefer prison and cannot support themselves out of prison. They like the camaraderie of prison, they hold a status in prison. They get fed well and have clean sheets. The courts had previously told these people they are bailed to re appear in court for sentencing, but expect a custodial, so what do they do? They do as much crime in the mean time to create a nest egg knowing they are going down. They have nothing to lose. Why is our system so naive? They have no intention of going straight, police are warned when they are due for release and we know the crime statistics will soar until we manage to catch them following all the rules when they follow none. Quite clearly, they are better off inside to save the rest of us. Some say prison doesn’t work because they re-offend when they are out of prison, I don’t care. You won’t change many, and they will continue with the only career they know when they are out, so don’t let them out. Or at least keep them in for longer so there will be less crime, and less crime means less misery to those that so clearly deserve our protection, yet the politically correct so ignore.
I believe there should definitely be more prisons, but there will be no more prisons because to build more is to admit a political defeat. Too many people who have not been victims will side with the poor offender who had no choices in their abused lives, and so the prisons remain the same in number, the population sours and so the spaces available reduce in number, and in the mean time, your family and mine are left to be guinea pigs to establish how long it will be before they re offend again. We live in a society of no blame, a society that teaches children to challenge authority, which is excellent in places, but misguided in others. In fact the first time some young people find their challenges are ignored is when a drunk and abusive 18 year old spills out of a club telling the police officer he cannot tell him to go home, or leave the area. A little knowledge is dangerous.
And then there is the monumental issue of mental health, or mental ill health as it should correctly be described as. We are told it will be given the same importance as physical ill health, and the treatment will be there, but I know it won’t without trebling the size of the NHS budget which cannot happen. I blame no government for braking their promises as the numbers and problems are too exhaustive to solve with the current NHS pot. There is no quick fix, and in my view there is very rarely a fix at all with mental ill health, especially those that have fried their brain with drugs for many years living in a permanent drug induced psychosis. And mental ill health often leads to crime, and some serious crimes. So people who act irrationally, or see things in their own minds and react to it thus resulting in a crime will eventually end up in prison. Caught up in their own lonely prison cell with a system that has no way of dealing with them. A system that releases some to live on the streets in their own filth waiting for an institution to look after them and waiting for a system that also protects their victims of the future.