Prisons Run For Profit & Charity

…& fun? Leftwing Criminologist (over in Bangor boiling his water because privatised Welsh Water are incapable of supplying potable supplies…for the third time in as many years!) posts about a very strange phenomena-

This article in yesterday’s Financial Times reported that charities are forming consortiums with private companies to bid for new prisons in the UK.

Already NACRO has joined forces with Group 4 Securicor (G4S) and Rayner Crime Concern is teaming up with Serco. Apparently this is so that “involvement of the voluntary sector at an early stage in design and management of new jails would help improve conditions and effective resettlement of inmates” according to NACRO’s Paul Cavadino. Previously charaties occasionally subcontracted things like resettlement and drug rehabilitation.

Of course this is presented as far more humane than just letting the private companies run prisons like they already do in 11 across the country. But privately run prisons are on average run worse than public sector ones and are overcrowded so why let the private sector be involved at all, if we assumed that the involvement of charities was a good thing in prisons surely this could be done in the public sector?

The article gives the game away later on when it says “Ministers believe that such building and operational models will make it politically easier to push ahead with the prison-building programme.” Exactly, PFI has become so unpopular because it is a disaster waiting to happen (or alreayd happening in many places), and the involvement of charities is meant to make it seem all cute a cuddly and safe…

[more at Leftwing Criminologist]

I would add this from a while back in The Independent, apparently corporations are wary of running jails, they like the money for building them but they don’t want the problems when their profit driven ways end in horror. To some extent this is good news, while they may be cheeky sods it does hint we are not as far gone as the US prison industrial system-

Most importantly, there is division in the business community over how the prisons should be procured. The much-vilified Private Finance Initiative (PFI), under which the public sector has paid companies to build, maintain and operate hospitals over a period of 25 to 30 years, is thought to be the model favoured by the Government.

However, Chris Booton, a director at construction company Wates and one of the key advisers to Lord Carter when he looked into the idea of Titan prisons last year, believes PFI is flawed in this instance.

He says that a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union last month, which invited builders to express an interest in the Titan projects, “implied it is likely to be PFI”. But he adds: “The public sector should operate these prisons. They’re flagship, so why not use Titans to prove the public sector is the best at operating them?”

He suggests using the existing prisons roster of construction firms to build the Titans. A dozen companies, including Galliford Try and Kier, have worked on around 50 projects for more than 20 prisons across the country. Mr Booton argues that they have built up expertise and the Government could run a quick and simple “mini-competition” to select the construction teams.

While not dismissing PFI as the most effective model for Titans, Mark Fox, chief executive of outsourcing trade body the Business Services Association, agrees to an extent with Mr Booton. “Delivering prisons is unique in the public sector in that it is the imprisonment of human beings,” he says. “We need really good management from the private sector and strong public sector management overseeing that. The public sector mustn’t aggregate responsibility on the private.”

Yes, try and hold back your tears of sympathy. So they want the charities in perhaps because they acknowledged they are incapable of running prisons humanely (perhaps lacking human capacity the business peep hints at, it’s not our fault, we’re profit driven sociopaths mate, we should be locked up!) but as well as the odd spectacle of charities running prisons I think they may also be convenient fall guys when shit hits fans. As LC notes NACRO is called a charity but- NACRO for example gets over 80% of funding from the state– so there is some arms length shenanigans in this. Sort of public run prisons a bit but not really and enough parties involved for them all to to deny responsibility when the Titans, which every independent concerned body has derided but the government insists on pushing through, are an enormous horrific failure.

It’s also a weird ideological mash-up, of course no one would commit heresy against The Church of the Free Market so something that is demonstrably done best by public bodies cannot be seen to happen, the government will not have democratically accountable public projects even in basic law and order so this unwieldy hybrid of PFI, charities (real and arms length) and government is concocted so the disciples don’t get aroused. It is being done in welfare too (also similar as it is proposed that unemployed people are forced to do community service just like convicted criminals, the moral assumption behind it is clear) where charities are being drawn into running proposed workfare programs. And that’s where the ‘not as bad as the US’ wears off, essential services run by charities is a right wing wet dream, it fundamentally implies:- you have a choice about helping some people and if you choose not to, fuck ’em they starve (let them eat cake?), humans have no duty to other humans, there is no such thing as society. Even though we implement a ruthless system relying on a reservoir of unemployment and inequality we have no moral responsibility towards the victims of our policies. The world is for winners and not losers, why trouble our beautiful minds with them.

Hurray For The New Statesman, But A Small Whine

The New Statesman had a readers poll for what they should investigate/campaign on, the options they gave were

  1. Conservative Party Funding.
  2. Lobbying.
  3. Prince Charles.
  4. The State of British Childhood.
  5. Asylum Crisis.

The response as described by Martin Bright (ooh now I feel dirty!) was-

There has already been a phenomenal response to our New Statesman Investigates feature. At the last count more than two-thirds of people were voting for us to look into the scandal of the treatment of asylum seekers in this country. There are still large numbers voting for us to have a dig around the UK’s lobbying industry. But not so much interest in Tory party funding, Prince Charles or the state of British childhood. We will keep the polls open, but so far asylum is the run-away choice. Already the campaign has grabbed the attention of asylum activists at the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns.This has already been an interesting process. I was convinced that Tory Party funding would have been of most interest to NS readers, but I appear to have been completely wrong. Such exercises can be perverse (the fact that so few of you seem to care about the state of British childhood may well be further evidence that we should be looking into the subject). But the vote is so overwhelming that it looks like asylum will almost certainly be our first subject. I was also impressed by the suggestion that we should into the business of human trafficking. I’ll make sure we add that one to our next poll.

Now they have launched an investigation/campaign- No Place for Children -Yes they are looking into the migrant gulag (not that they call it that) but they are making it about children in migrant jails so I guess they subsumed their keenness for a series about childhood into the issue the readers democratically plumped for. So yes it is good they allowed their readers to throw aside their rather rubbish suggestions (they put asylum at number 5, does that mean amongst the staff it had the least votes?). I mean Bright doesn’t seem exactly thrilled at what the readers have very rightly voted for. Perhaps it is because it will entail an examination of New Labour’s abject tyranny against migrants rather than a chance to stick the knife into tories, which hey, who doesn’t enjoy but it’s nowhere near as pressing as the prison camps throughout the country under the guise of a ‘border policy’, as Kyle and Brownfemipopwer say about the US-

I continue to be thankful for an independent new media at the conventions.  It’s where I get all my worthwhile news.  I just got this from brownfemipower:

Cold Snap Legal is staying on top of what is happening to protesters at the RNC. Among some of the latest updates:
#ICE agents are entering jail and pulling out arrestees with “foreign-sounding names!
#Men in jail have been on 23 hour lockdown, They are on hunger strike until this ends and they are either charged or released.
#f you’ve been released from jail and have NOT had your property returned, please call the Coldsnap hotline (651.356.8635). We can help out!

brownfemipower – La Chola (3 September 2008)

This after “raids” were conducted on protestor’s homes in advance of the Republican National Convention.  It’s what pro-migrant bloggers have been saying for a long time now.  The U.S. migration debate affects everyone residing in the U.S.  If you think it just affects migrants, you’ll get your answer when the government bashes your front door in.

The New Statesman, a major magazine, are covering asylum issues and maybe it is smart tactics to go for the child angle but personally I find it a little patronising and ‘Children in Need-y‘. I do hope it doesn’t descend into a facile -ahh poor kiddies- conscience soother, it must fully connect with the real issues, our complacency & guilt, the economic & political -neoliberal globalisation, imperial wars of agression/client regimes- and also cover the inhumanity of New Labour in their imprisonment of migrants young/old of whatever sex. Anyway that quibble aside this is very good news and I feel some hope the migrant gulag is about to see some sunlight through this human rights campaign and the seeping racism our immigration policies are a symptom of is confronted. So go have a look-

The New Statesman No Place for Children campaign calls on the government to end the detention of children for immigration reasons

Kershawed

Y’know as in Munsoned from Kingpin. Those familiar with Andy Kershaw might find this interview interesting, sadly there is plenty of evidence that while he is deep in the hole, he has no intention of dropping the spade (probably a bottle shaped spade).

And the only Palin worth talking about-

With all the talk about Senator John McCain’s surprise choice of presidential running-mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, still dominating the news, the first reaction among most British readers when perusing the headlines is: “What on earth has happened to dear old Michael?” So it seems only pertinent to ask whether the former Monty Python star and potentially the second-most powerful person in the free the world are in any way connected. Michael was out when I called yesterday, but his wife, Helen, was only too happy to put me straight. “For the record, we are not related,” she says. “And, to be quite honest with you, we are quite relieved

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Help Out Democracy Now 3

Today it is critical that you make your voice heard in the Ramsey County Attorney and St. Paul City Attorney offices. Demand that they drop all pending and current charges against journalists arrested while reporting on protests outside the Republican National Conventions.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s office is in the process of deciding whether or not to press felony P.C. (probable cause) riot charges against Democracy Now! Producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Please contact Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner by all means possible to demand that her office not press charges against Kouddous and Salazar.

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner
RCA at co.ramsey.mn.us (cc: dropthecharges at democracynow.org)
651-266-3222

Susan Gaertner for Governor
info at susangaertner.com (cc: dropthecharges at democracynow.org)
(612) 978-8625
(612)804-6156

The St. Paul City Attorney’s office has already charged Amy Goodman with misdemeanor obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer. Contact St. Paul City Attorney John Choi by all means possible to demand that the charges against Goodman be dropped immediately.

St. Paul City Attorney John Choi
john.choi at ci.stpaul.mn.us (cc: dropthecharges at democracynow.org) (651) 266-8710

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention.

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were also arrested during this action, as was a photographer for the Associated Press.

IMPORTANT

Be sure to cc: dropthecharges@democracynow.org on all emails so that our team can deliver print outs of your messages to the St. Paul City Attorney and Ramsey County Attorney offices.

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