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Don’t be proud of the ‘best prison in world’ tag

letters 1

I refer to the article from Alper Ali Riza KC bragging about Cyprus having the “Best prison regime in the world” (Sunday Mail, October 16).

It was of interest to me, an ex-police officer (the Met) of over 33 years particularly where he compared the poor standards of HM Winson Green prison to those of Cyprus, where the food is good, there are Bingo sessions, various classes and the freedom to wear your own clothes, no prison uniform required. In fact, the whole place sounds rather like a holiday camp, with the exception that you can’t leave. Well, why would you want to? Three meals a day, no worries about utility bills, a gym and evening classes. Wouldn’t we be better off putting our old people in there and letting the criminal fraternity out to fend for themselves in the real world?

He appears to have forgotten, as many of the Legal Eagles do, the reality that prison was often a place where convicts were kept pending execution or deportation. With the demise of both, prison itself became the means of punishment. There is still a belief in many that locking a person in a small cell in questionable conditions somehow makes them a better person and reforms their behaviour? Really?

Being on the other side I’ve seen the misery and heartache caused by these individuals where they’ve stolen what to them are trinkets to pawn and sell-on for pennies, the wedding and engagement rings, the items that held memories and the damage they’ve done to property and the individual’s sense of wellbeing, the fear that they’ve left behind. Let’s not pretend that this lad in Winson Green was a minor offender, you need to really be a recidivist to get real time there.

As for the conditions, I ask why do we have prison visitors checking on the conditions of our inmates, whilst we ignore the condition of our elderly. Who checks on them? Who even cares? The UK figures showed that over 17,000 pensioners died from hypothermia in their homes in last year’s winter, choosing eating over eating. How many inmates have frozen to death?

Seeing the picture of the sporting event that illustrated the article, I ask is this a form of punishment, a sporting event in a prison yard?

The legal system appears to have lost sight of punishment and the needs of the victim for retribution. Is this what our taxes should be used for? As for the comment about “civilised punishment” it left me confused.

 

Peter G Davis, Drousia

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