At our last meeting, Canon Keith Pound, former Chaplain General & Archdeacon to the Prison Service spoke on ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ - how those in prison become ‘forgotten’ by society. He listed four reasons for imprisoning people: Punishment, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, and Protection of Society. Whilst we do need prisons, the system often sadly fails to work properly. People who are released regularly re-offend as there is no easy way for them to get back into society. He quoted one firm which regularly employs ‘ex-cons’. This runs surprisingly smoothly. There should be many more such firms.
Members of the current Government, notably the Prime Minister and the Minister for Prisons, are showing a positive attitude to making the prison system work better, for the staff there, the public, AND the prisoners. This is encouraging. Canon Pound quoted the fact that many of those in prison should not be there, for several reasons. It would ease the problems considerably if these people could be dealt with by for example Community Work Orders. Here he mentioned, tongue-in-cheek of course, that stocks used to work well. They were local, cheap to run, immediate and most uncomfortable.
Canon Pound visited every prison in England & Wales. He happened to be at Strangeways during the riots of 1990 when, as a visitor, he was gently shepherded along by the warders just inside the outer perimeter wall. Otherwise unpleasant substances could be poured on his head from galleries above. He witnessed some of the ‘roof demonstrations’ and was saddened to see one prisoner draped in vestments from the chapel.
A lively question-and-answer session followed. An excellent lunch was provided by Nicola and her team at Fairlight Lodge Hotel.
At our next meeting on 6 April our Speaker will be Mireille Schneider, former ballerina, on ‘How I met Rudolph Nureyev’. Details M.Plumbe@BTInternet.com
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