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Saturday, November 10, 2007 

Scum-watch: Those prisons, they're hotels, guv. Know what I'd do? String 'em all up, it's the only language they understand.

One has been in a secure hospital, one hasn't.

Another day, another new Scum campaign. Faced with so many evil monsters putting on weight while behind bars, the leader argues for the bringing back of hard labour, or at the least, those inside being put to work on chain gangs repairing the roads, cleaning canals and tiding up after fly-tippers.

There are so many obvious problems with this proposal, none of which are anything to do with human rights laws, as the Scum churlishly insinuates, that it's almost laughable. Setting up such schemes would necessitate a huge rise in the numbers employed in jails, in order so those let out during the day to perform such works would be properly supervised, and those left behind would not be left without adequate cover. There's enough outcry when someone walks out of an open prison, so you can just image the opprobrium were a whole group of prisoners able to escape at some point from one of these jaunts. It would also take time away from those who spend their time in jail learning a skilled profession - the numbers of which are large.

The Scum's tiny amount of evidence for why such hard labour is necessary is also threadbare, reliant on the more famous inmates who have put on weight since going inside. Of two of the killers mentioned - Peter Sutcliffe and Beverley Allitt, both are held in secure hospitals, Broadmoor and Rampton respectively, not prisons. There are also numerous reasons for weight gain, not just pigging out; it can be as much a sign of stress as weight loss for instance, and medication can also play a role.

The belief that life in prison has become soft, with them often referred to as holiday camps, as the Sun does, and with Tim Spanton, previously responsible for a whole article of lies about the human rights act, claiming that "Aromatherapy and massages have largely replaced work for today’s inmates," has become insidious. It's complete nonsense, as with so much other thought on the right dedicated to what they see as political correctness and going soft on crime etc, but that doesn't stop the rhetoric. A more representative view of the prison system was presented earlier this year in the Grauniad, when it interviewed 42 individuals about one day in their life, from Category A prisoners to the head of the prison system himself. That however will never stop tabloid journalists who have never so much as been to one, let alone served time, from telling the public how much like hotels they are.

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