Friday, August 1, 2014

Open prisons

There are four categories of prisons for men in the UK, A being the most secure and only Bristol on the UK mainland is (or was) categorised as such. Other prisons did have category A wings or blocks too. "B was where most violent prisoners ended up, C was essentially a massive holding type of prison where the vast majority of offenders end up and D is the open prison system where prisoners nearing release are kept along with those deemed no danger to society. Or at least that was the theory...
Four prisoners a week are walking out of the country’s jails, a rise of 10 per cent, according to new figures.
The National Offender Management Service disclosed that the number of prisoners absconding in England and Wales rose to 225 in the year to March, from 204 in 2012/13.
The figures were published on the same day that it emerged that an armed robber Wayne Whitley who was serving a life sentence, had absconded from Kirkham open prison in Lancashire.
Absconding is defined as when a prisoner “absents him or her self from prison custody without lawful authority” and without clearing a wall or breaking any locks.
Most of the abscondees were from male open prisons where security is notoriously lax. The figures come after there has been growing controversy about the number of prisoners going missing from open prisons.
Unfortunately due to a rise in offenders and the governments (of both stripes) reluctance to build more secure prisons, many prisoners are ending up in categories that were never designed or ran to hold them. Hence we have armed robbers ending up in Category D rather than B or C.
Having worked on the Isle of Sheppey where there are three prisons of B, C, and D it's very noticeable that Stamford Hill the category D prison is totally different to the other two, if only because it doesn't have a wall around it and those it holds are dropped off at the gatehouse and actually walk up to the two main buildings housing the inmates. No pressure and a lot of trust... but as most are only there short term, they probably do not want to mess things up at that stage, so it's a calculated risk in a sense, but pretty good odds.
However add someone in there who is dangerous, has nothing to lose, has quite a bit of time left on their sentence then it's a recipe for abscondment.
Open prisons are a good idea, just not for violent lifers, if they were used the way they were meant to be then there would I suspect be few incidents of escape.
As it is, politicians whilst having no problems spending a fortune on themselves and celebrity causes such as minorities and 'green idiocy' are far more reluctant to actually build prisons and needed infrastructure.
They really don't have a normal set of priorities once they go to Westminster...

3 annotations:

Dioclese said...

Did you ever watch 'Escape from New York'? Perhaps we could try the Snake Pliskin method?

All you have to do is implant an explosive device in the prisoner's carotid artery which has to be reset every 24 hours at the prison. Then if you abscond, it goes off and kills you.

Mind you, it might get a bit messy and assumes that these people aren't thick - which they clearly aren't because the keep buggering off...

Mr. Morden said...

If the sold all those old sinking prisons in London alone, the money raised would be able to build new one's. But given the ineptness and the sheer corruptness of government and civil servants, they would just pi$$ it up on some enviro-looney-tune idea, or give it to the EU.

Anonymous said...

My father used to work in an Open Prison in Gloucestershire in the 50's to 90's. His family lived in Staff quarters basically on the same site. If any one went AWOL we always heard about it and it only ever happened about once every 2 years. The inmates new that if they ever did go AWOL and were caught again it was straight off to HMP Bristol with an increased sentence and no retrial or appeal. I believe this is why few of them ever did, and yes the prison did house murderers, rapists and armed robbers back then but these were generally people nearing the end of their sentences.