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Behind bars | Give prisoners more, not less

Stripping prisoners of recreational privileges wont solve recidivism. If the government had any insight into prison life they would understand, says Jeannie Mackie

3 May 2013

This is a government whose commitment to rehabilitation only extends as far as the ex-jailbirds among their supporters, who, cleansed of all sin by a short stretch working in the prison library, strut among the leaders of our nation as guests at events like Thatcher's funeral. Men who had every chance in life, every advantage, every educational and social privilege, and who still screwed up. People whose lives are as far removed as it is possible to be from the reality of the existence of the 80,000-plus inmates of our prisons, and who do not serve as any lesson at all, other than the bog-standard one that he who has much gets more.

The lesson that this government will not learn - refuses to learn in fact - is one which the rawest and greenest of pupils learns round about week nine in the criminal justice business. It is this: prison does not deter the people who go back to it. Prison works as an effective deterrent for those who have never been - the threat of loss of l...

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