SCREWED – time to end the prison industry

September 2, 2009

There has been a call by The Howard League for Penal Reform for prison officers to be educated to degree level. They suggest…

“The prison officer currently has to help prisoners with everything from housing to finances and from detoxification to anger management, all within a horribly complex framework of legislation. Eight weeks is not enough time to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfil this hugely challenging and complicated role.”

They neglect the fact that degree-educated teachers, social workers, health workers, politicians, civil servants, judiciary, businessmen, police chiefs and journos have ALL helped to exasperate the problem in the first place. Crime and punishment is big business and there is little evidence that this particular industry would like to see a drop in re-offending rates.

Only a legal system based on ‘customary law’ – which is controlled by the people and favours ‘restorative justice‘ – can ever truly help both the victim and the criminal. The best introduction to the differences between ‘customary’ and ‘criminal’ law can be found in Daniel C. Burton’s essay ‘Libertarian Anarchism: Why it is best for Freedom, Law, the Economy and the Environment, And Why Direct Action is the Way to Get It.‘ (we’re too skint to be ‘libertarians’, but we are Anarchists without Adjectives, so we’d be happy to share a planet with them 😉 ). We recommend that you read Burton’s essay as a primer on the problems of the modern legal system, but if you can’t be bothered here’s a few pointers…

Criminal law was created as a way of directing [restorative] payments to royalty instead of to the victims of offenses. Now criminals paid fines to the crown instead of restitution to their victims. This expansion of government power was resisted fiercely by the victims of illegal acts, who had lost their compensation. The royalty had to pass laws against settling out of court with criminals for payments or the return of stolen goods, so that it could collect its fines. In doing so, it removed victims’ incentives to bring criminals to court and see that justice was done. The result was a marked increase in violent, disorderly acts.

Criminal law creates disorder, because it removes the victim from the legal process. It gives them no reason to report crimes in the first place, because they gain no benefit from doing so. Civil law, on the other hand promotes order, because it centers around victims, and encourages them to participate in the process.



4 Responses to “SCREWED – time to end the prison industry”

  1. Marksany said

    Great post, very interesting

  2. If you are interested in reading the original report – which by the way, does not focus on just getting a degree, but actually on the professionalisation of the role – you can download it for free here:

  3. If you want to read the full report (which I would recommend you do), you can download it free, from

  4. Class War - Barnsdale Brigade said

    Sorry Hannah, your comment was redirected to our spam list and we didn’t see it until today (5th). We’re not surprised that your report was misrepresented by the media. Our press, like our prisons, are beyond reform; they need to be completely rebuilt if they are to serve th needs of the people rather than the powerful 😉

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