Paperchase – Coventry City FC – Labour MPs

24 May

On your last day here, you do what’s called  a paperchase. It’s all the sign off formalities to clear you for release. Only the guys leaving on tag take it real serious, being released early is deemed a privilege and not a right. Kick up a fuss over this and you could wind up staying for a little longer. For those who are leaving at their halfway point, they can use the paper as bog roll and still walk out the next morning. I imagine a fair number of people enjoy doing the paperchase as it’s that sense of last day excitement you have seen so many others go through.

I’d walk around with a bit of paper if it meant I was going home tomorrow.

The summertime seems to have ended, it’s proper damp here.

It’s making it that bit harder to clean our clothes. The heating isn’t on and the rain prevents drying clothes outside. Struggling to improvise here, in order to simply wear clean underwear – just like a holiday camp eh? The prison has now run out of ‘clean’ towels. So this 5 star resort is now a little shabby, unhygienic charade of a prison. The screws and management can’t sort out the simple matter of laundry; what good are they doing to the minds of young criminals?

At lunch one inmate is put on report after refusing to attend his afternoon work shift. He demands fresh clothes or access to cleaning and drying facilities. His work place is the gardens, so his only pair of prison greens (We are only allowed one pair of work/cargo trousers) are sodden. I don’t think asking for access to clean clothes warrants being put on report and being threatened with extraction to a closed prison.

While the public would wish us to break rocks for the rest of our days, with no opportunity for reform that sees us with the potential to live better lives* – being able to wear clean underwear and workwear is surely no mean stretch of requests; particularly given we are the (relative speaking) well-behaved bunch at Category D establishments.

*I mention this little barb after listening to a Radio 5 Report on an ex footballer being allowed on day release to train with Swindon Town FC. Ex Coventry City footballer Lee McCormick.

The inmate in question has served the good part of a 7 and half year sentence for death by dangerous driving. The tragedy took away two young lives after a professional footballer had been drinking before getting behind the wheel. It is awful and a man with no previous criminal history will be haunted for the rest of his days by this. Some call him a murderer, not a fair tag and not truly realistic but it is an additional punishment our society puts upon such people. I have met a handful of men inside for similar sometimes less culpable offences and often wonder to myself what is an appropriate sentence?

Coppers, Bus Drivers all sorts of perfectly sane, tax paying individuals you would happily have a conversation with and invite into your home. How would you sentence them?

In writing this, I do not seek to undermine the pain and suffering Phil and Amanda Peake have gone through, the parents. Nor would I wish to ignore the tremendous work they have done since the deaths of their two young children to highlight the dangers of drink driving.

Radio 5 gets me going – a separate story on the workings of prison wages, brings a lady on the phones with zero experience of the workings of the justice system yet heavily armed with critical information that has no foundation in truth.  This lady with no exposure or grounding in life this side of the parapet begins:

“Old people don’t get what they have…” Unsure of what that has to do with the prison debate…What do 80 year olds need with free weights or Methadone?

With many of us wearing dirty underwear, using filthy, pubic lice infested towels NOT WATCHING Sky, we are criticised for the lack of productive hours we put in – a prison management issue not ours. Then the very same people who spout this rhetoric demanding longer sentences are the farthest back in the list of people prepared to offer an olive branch at the end of it, to let us earn a second chance.

These holier than thou types seem to brand any person inside, a violent thug or dangerous predator. It is for this reason primarily that the Blue Collar inmates here LOVE seeing a ‘Well to do’ type fall from grace. Do I blame them?

Put it this way, hearing an ex Labour MP has today been charged with £60k worth of expenses fraud puts a smile on my face.

 

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