8/11/2007

Time to actually build a fence ?


Four prisoners have absconded from Sudbury Open Prison in the last four days. Okay, they are entitle to a bad run. However, official figures show that more than 660 inmates have walked out of Sudbury in the past 10 years. That's an average of 66 a year, or more than one a week.

I'm not in the "hang'em and flog'em" brigade, but to lose more than one prisoner a week suggests either that the criteria for choosing who goes to an open prison is wrong or their is not enough security.

I accept the need for what an open prison offers, but surely a fence or some locks might be a good idea ?

3 comments:

jailhouselawyer said...

At least you used the term absconded as opposed to the usual mistake "escaped". As I understand it, Sudbury is no longer categorised as an open prison, rather it is now a Resettlement prison. What's the difference? Not a lot. A bit like Long Kesh/Maze, or Windscale/Sellafield.

660 in 10 years is not bad going at all. Some weeks they have no absconds and at other times 3 or 4 a week, or even a night.

It's not as simple as the wrong criteria, as for security in an establishment where the onus is upon the inmates not to breach trust would be absurd.

There is a small fence but it only really marks the boundary. And there are some locks, mainly privy locks on the doors of inmates rooms. But there is a two cell segregation unit with locks for those who are getting shipped out to closed conditions.

Temptation. I absconded from there after I got caught smuggling spirits in. For awhile, it was a lucrative business. A £7 bottle of whisky would sell for £20-25. 6x£7 =£42, 6x£20 = £120. 6 days a week that was £720 per week, plus £200 per week cash in hand for 40 hours work.

Others go walkabout because they get into debt with the drug dealers. Some have domestic problems, other get a knock back from the parole board and disagree with the decision.

It really isn't a big deal, Nich, it's a non-story. Human nature is human nature.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I agree with your view that in the great scheme of things it is a non story. However it plays in to the hands of people who see prison as a soft option. They may well be wrong, and I don't agree with this view. Certainly prison should be more about rehab and less about punishment. But an open doot policy at prisons plays in to the hands of the reactionary right.

I hope my post didn't come across as extreme right wing, but stronger security might not be a bad idea, although your insight is appreciated.

jailhouselawyer said...

You didn't come across as extreme right wing, that's David Davis territory.

The theory is, prisoners in open or resettlement prisons are deemed a minimum risk to the public otherwise they would not be there. Therefore, the Prison Service and the police sit back and wait until they are caught as is often the case. In practice, the criteria has been lowered to ease the overcrowding in closed prisons. Even these would be deemed a low risk Category "C".

The stats would have to show that the abscond rate has gone up, and that it had done so as a result of those who perhaps would not have gone to open jail but for the overcrowding.

There is security there its pretty much hit and miss, cat and mouse. If it's too tight it defeats the object. It has been tightened since the 1960s and 1970s, when prostitutes would be smuggled in, and some would absent themselves for the weekend and sneak back in.

It is riddled with heroin, this I feel is a bigger problem.

When you are dealing with life's failures it is to be expected that some will fail at Sudbury.

There is Kirklevington Grange resettlement prison in Yarm, Cleveland, Cat C/D and has a fence around it. Some still abscond on day releases. Obviously, it's abscond rate is lower. However, its selection criteria is tougher. It also has the lowest rate of re-offending.

If Sudbury went for a fence, it would not be enough on its own. It would also need a regime change.

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