Saturday, 23 March 2013

You can’t beat the Daily Wail

Huhne moved to a cushier prison.......maybe

As ever there are two sides (or more) to a story. The Daily Wail had this in its online edition tonight: “Disgraced MP Chris Huhne may be sleeping a little easier tonight after he was moved into one of Britain's minimum security prisons.
After spending just seven days in tough Wandsworth prison, the former cabinet minister has now taken up residence at HMP Leyhill, Gloucester, where prisoners are not even locked in their cells.
It will be his home for the rest of his eight-month jail term.” Mail 23/3/13

Years ago a cricketing team-mate was sentenced to a stretch in prison for receiving stolen goods. Initially, he too was sent to a ‘tough’ prison, Strangeways in Manchester, and was then later transferred to an open prison. His experience does not match the Wail’s line. He found being in Strangeways OK. He felt safe and although he spent a lot of time locked in his cell, he began a fitness regime, doing sit-ups and press-ups to work his way through the sentence. He was largely left alone to get on with it. The prison officers recognised him as presenting no trouble so were always civil and reasonable.  

All this changed when he was transferred to the open prison. The regime was much more lax but that was not a good thing as far as he was concerned. There were a couple of  gangs in the prison who wanted to run things in their own way and expected loners like him to kowtow to them. Supervision was very loose.  He felt far more unsafe in a so-called ‘soft’ prison than he ever did at Strangeways. He said he had to tread very carefully and spent as much time as possible in the gym working even harder to become stronger so they would leave him alone.

The line ‘where prisoners are not even locked in their cells’ is a double-edged one. It also means that a person or persons with evil intent can get at you in the middle of the night.

Perhaps after all the hacking inquiries are over  -  and several journalists have been locked up at her maj’s pleasure, maybe even incarcerated in ‘minimum security prisons’ for a spell - the tabloids may just start to sing a different tune. 

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