only private prison is once again being derided by the socialists
after a seventeen year-old committed suicide there whilst on remand.
This is the second suicide at the prison since it opened in March
comes on the back of a report on the prison by the chief inspector
of Scottish prisons, Clive Fairweather. In this report, he declares
the prison an "expensive failure" and repeats the leftist
mantra of "profits before people" when he judges the
staffing levels to be below acceptable safety levels. The calls
to close the prison continue to mount by those who say that prisons
simply cannot be run like businesses.
privatised Kilmarnock Prison is but the first step in what is
seen as the road to penal privatisation by Tony Cameron, the chief
executive of the Scottish Prisons Services (SPS), who has spoken
of taking one-third of Scotland’s prisons out of the public sector.
The reason for this move in principle would seem to be as much
financial as free market since £13 million has been axed from
the prisons budget to fund the new Scottish Drugs Enforcement
man is not popular with prison staff who, no doubt, would wish
to see him locked up instead. This is especially true in the wake
of a one-day strike recently by Scottish prison officers. This
was in protest of the imposition of 13-hour shifts without a meal
break in all of Scotland’s 22 prisons. Even though the strike
was illegal, the SPS backed down and the union had a rare victory.
I welcome as much privatisation as possible out of the State sector,
I have long held an ambivalence towards the concept of the prison
system. These are the facts:
is only one customer – the State.
is only one choice of service – penal detention.
goods (i.e. the criminals) are of an extremely volatile nature.
far, the entrepreneurs offering competitive services are limited.
This all adds up to something of a monopolistic, niche market.
But consider the participants in this sordid and fringe business.
the government being the sole wielder of civil sanctions in society,
this cannot help but be a monopoly of a unique kind. A distinct
lack of customers to put new ideas and innovations to the test
in this market place guarantees slow progress towards optimal
choice of service offered is all but hamstrung by the latest conventions
on human rights from the United Nations downwards. Serious crimes
only have one consequence and that is a prison sentence which
can be a fate worse than death.
example, consider the man who is sentenced to 12 months imprisonment
for a serious assault. He leaves behind a wife and three kids
who cannot make ends meet and the mother has to fall on the tender
mercies of the Welfare State. Immediately, the State (i.e. the
taxpayer) incurs the cost of incarcerating this felon at one of
Her Majesty’s zero star hotels whilst the wife draws income support
for one year.
her errant husband enters a world of hurt which is almost guaranteed
to send him back out into the world worse than he came out. In
this world, he mixes with those who can school him better in the
art of criminality and anti-social behaviour.
is a world where drugs and pornography are easily obtained to
break the boredom of a caged life; where felons congregate into
cliques and extort and rape those who come under their dark grip.
this backdrop, we can understand the decreasing morale of prison
officers. They increasingly face violent attacks from prisoners
whom they cannot touch for fear of litigation and whom management
attempt to appease by overlooking drugs smuggling and so on.
this I have said nothing new. But it is time that the sympathy
of leftist do-gooders began to swing away from the criminal. It
is time that the customer base was extended beyond the State in
this area of penal enterprise, the choice of services increased
and the quality of the goods enhanced. I am talking about the
victims, sanctions and the effects they have on the criminal.
current situation more or less defines the victim as society in
general with its self-appointed incarnation, the State, being
the arm which wields the sword (albeit a rather blunt one). But
the victim is undoubtedly the old man who has been robbed or the
woman who has been raped and not an aggregate of individuals spread
across innumerable square miles. The victim of our imaginary assailant
is left potentially out of work for weeks and months as the State
escorts the felon to the nearest penal colony.
brings us to the topic of restorative justice, but not as current
liberal thinkers conceive it. Their concept of restorative justice
envisages the criminal being involved in "personal change
projects", electronic tagging and community service. These
things do not consider nor compensate the victim in any way except
a pious satisfaction that the husband will continue to see his
words. Noble intentions.
the bills do not get paid due to that broken arm or the permanent
blindness in one eye. Who should pay for the costs of medical
treatment, convalescence and subsistence? The victim, his family,
the taxpayer or his employer? Dare I say none of the above and
suggest the criminal?
one fell swoop, the customer base in the penal free market expands
into the tens of thousands as victims and criminals enter into
compensation negotiations which sets into motions a manifold number
of possible solutions to be provided.
we can guess in such negotiations, the victim will tend towards
the higher levels of compensation whilst the criminal will tend
in the opposite direction. Likewise, we do not wish to see the
wild gyrations we have seen in 100 years of State punishments,
which have ranged from 10 years hard labour for being the first
to stop applauding a State speech to 7 years for torturing and
killing a toddler. Limits have to be set to avoid the victim’s
emotions and indignation extracting compensation which is far
in excess of his own loss and, conversely, a derisory value being
placed on human injury and dignity.
have always liked the rule followed by the ancient Hebrews. If
a thief was caught stealing, he was to restore double what he
had taken. In effect, we have an almost negative application of
the Golden Rule – what the thief wanted for himself, he must now
give to his victim. In other words, the thief’s intended net gain
of one sheep becomes a net gain of one sheep for the victim -
the stolen sheep restored plus another sheep given.
course, after a normal free market transaction, both sides of
the agreement should feel they still have assets of the same worth,
but in different forms. But, in this transaction, the intention
is to introduce an inequality which will turn it into a desirable
monopoly – the victim always wins. To put it more familiarly,
crime does not pay.
compensation need not be equivalent, but may be in kind or tempered
with mercy if the fruits of reform are perceived. In an arena
where there is a diversity of types of compensation we may also
see the option of corporal punishment brought back as the victim
and criminal negotiate the terms of remuneration under the supervision
of a third party arbitrator.
I hear the liberal cry of humiliation and degradation? If I had
the choice of one year in prison, a large percentage of my annual
income or 10 strokes of a birch at the hands of a karate expert,
I think I would pick the third option. That is preferable to a
year away from my family or living in debt for too long - and
the liberal has no right to tell me that I should not subject
myself to such an ordeal if I choose it! Even criminals have a
choice in the dynamic of such a fluid economy.
who is the third party in such a conference? Ask yourself who
sets the limits of retribution, defines what is right and wrong
in society and has the right to delegate it to others.
you have that answer, you are closer to knowing who your god is.
When Josef Stalin consigned our premature applauder to the Gulag,
the god of the Soviets was made painfully apparent. Let us be
careful that the State is not allowed to be such a god unto itself
in these grave matters lest a worse thing come upon us.