Sunday, February 26, 2006

No More Prisons!

One letter that caught my eye in the latest issue of Socialist Worker was a letter from Pauline Campbell on behalf of the organisation No More Prisons (LINK), an organisation committed to alternative forms of justice. The issue of how we treat people who have committed criminal offenes is not an issue that th left typically agitate on. This, in a way stands to reason: 'progressive' positions on justice are difficult to make popular given the potential of crime to genuinely destroy the lives of masses of ordinary people . Yet is becoming clearer and clearer that prison ruins lives and doesnt work. In America, the conservative lock 'em up mentality that has prevailed over the last two decades has simply seen the prison population mushroom to the extent that it now exceeds 2 million (There is a great System of a Down track - Prison Song - which deals with the American prison system). Meanwhile enormous rates of reoffending in britain demonstrate the actual effect of prison on people, and their ability to relate to society at large. The best thing about theno more prisons site is that it is not dominated by 'do-gooders' - people who have little direct experience of either crime or criminal justice but want to improve the lot of the wretched. Instead if you go to the forum you will find extremely illuminating reports from people whose voices are rarely heard - the mothers, fathers and partners of people who end up inside. To be sure their idea of abolishing prison altogether raises a great number of questions. Yet now more than ever is a time when we can forgive them for bending the stick in the other direction. check out waht they have to say


1 comment:

Salman Shaheen said...

It's certainly been a difficult issue for me in the past. I remember in my Hardcore Hippy days being fundamentally opposed to prisons as a form of corrective justice. In a sense I still am. The statistics speak for themselves - prisons as institutions for reforming the individual are ineffective. But I wouldn't say that makes prisons useless. Some people simply have to be locked up, and I'm certainly not expecting serial killers to swap their knives for flowers. Prisons should not be used as instruments to reform the individual, or punish them for crimes they've committed, but they should be used to keep dangerous people away from society when no other option is available.