Monday 30 May 2022

Movies and internet access for prisoners

and the reintroduction of a car race in city streets seem to be on the government's agenda again.

Prison is supposed to be about punishment and rehabilitation. I have no objection to prisoners seeing the occasional film - as a reward for good behaviour. I feel the same way about access to television. Internet access for the purposes of learning approved new skills is fine. These things may well help to keep someone out of trouble later.

Zoom meetings with their family? Maybe. They would need to be monitored and they would need to be instead of and not in addition to face-to-face meetings. They may be less distressing for some children. At the same time if a child does not wish to see a parent who is in prison then they should not be required to do so. I once taught a child whose father was in prison. His father was a brute of a man who had somehow managed to obtain an order that his son visit him. The boy in question was terrified of him. "I don't want to see him - ever!" If there had been Zoom then I doubt it would have been any easier for the child in question.

It is a fine line though between punishment and rehabilitation. There are many other things the money could be spent on. The Senior Cat knew a man who spent many years volunteering in prisons. He taught literacy skills in them after teaching in schools all day. It helped a few but I remember him sitting at our kitchen table in absolute despair as yet another man he thought he had helped was sent back in for another long term. The Senior Cat had ideas about those things but never became involved. He was of the view it was better to keep people out of such places from the start. 

We aren't doing enough about that. We have almost completely cut art and craft from schools. The idea that children might be self-motivated and creative is at odds with the way we supervise and watch over almost every childhood activity.

If we dared to say, "I'm bored" or "I don't know what to do" our mother found something for us to do sharpish. I don't think I said either of those things after around my seventh birthday and my siblings were the same. We knew better. My brother is just as good now as the Senior Cat ever was in his workshop. He is passing the skills on to his grandchildren too. They won't have time to get into too much strife but they will be self motivated people who can entertain themselves as well.

I think this is what bothers me about the prison proposal. It is almost as if they have given up on the prisoners. The authorities seem to think they can pass over a sort of adult-sitting to the internet, to electronic entertainment. Those in their care won't be able to entertain themselves - and that is surely a recipe for recidivism?


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