Rooftop Sunbathing - By Prisoner Ben Gunn - HMP Erlestoke
What was lining up to be a dull, irritating day was brought alive by the appearance of a rooftop protester above my head. Cue lots of staff activity, the deployment of negotiators and then the riot squad.
My keen eyes and ears absorbed everything. Ringside seats to such events and the tactics employed by the Prison Service are uncommon events.
The man on the roof - let's call him George - was frustrated because despite banging on about his accommodation on release for 5 years, is still forced into being homeless when he is released next month.
It is uncontested that housing plays a huge role in the likelihood of re-offending, and his concerns should have been listened to and a solution found. Instead, he was neglected and frustrated. Up the wall he went, to try to get someone to listen to him.
The negotiators were bumbling, truly pathetic, and only served to pass the time until the riot squad were ready to force the issue.
Seven hours, dozens of staff, the prison shut down, and the need for specialist riot staff.
What a waste, when the issue could have been resolved in minutes. The governor should have dragged George's offender supervisor below the eaves and asked him to explain the efforts made to house George on release. And if the O.S had been negligent, begin dismissal proceedings against him.
But the prison service just isn't like that. They can admit no wrong and so George will probably spend his last few weeks in chokey, before being decanted homeless to live on a street near you.
There are days when we should all feel ashamed of our criminal justice system...
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