Friday, 20 September 2013

Smoking to be banned in prisons by 2015

There are around 83,000 inmates here in the UK and about 80% of them smoke, and of course we know that inmates have smoked in prison for decades without so much as a single criticism from anyone…at least as far as one can tell.
But now the Ministry of Justice, has decided in it’s non wisdom, that it needs to run a pilot scheme in Eastwood Park women’s prison in the south of England, to see whether a blanket smoking ban (where have we heard that before?) would be effective. I'm pretty certain that they’ll make sure it’ll work. I bet you are too.
Ex lag Mark Johnson says “The community is volatile even now and I would see an escalation in disturbance, staff assaults riots etc.”.
Joe Simpson from the Prison Officers Association had this to say “We don’t want to see in the future our members suffering from respiratory conditions because nobody protected them from second hand smoke…” Naturally the Howard league for penal reform believes that not enough is being done to rehabilitate prisoners with unprecedented budget cuts and staff shortages present greater problems that need to be addressed first.
With all the concerns that the penal system has to deal with, is a smoking ban really an imperative considering the backlash within prisons that will inevitably occur – is that risk really worth it? No member of the establishment can ever be accused of joined up thinking, and this is no exception. I don’t doubt the half-wit resolve to bring in this ban come what may, but if you want to help prisoners to rehabilitate sensibly then taking away the solace that smoking brings to prisoners, then this is wholly the wrong way to go about it.
Since so many inmates smoke then why not just separate smokers from non-smokers, how difficult would that be, and what I don’t understand is, if inmates can smoke out in the court-yard, then why does this present a problem to anyone else. One would have thought that over the last 50 years or so that continual upgrading in prisons with regard to proper ventilation systems would have been a given, since it would be considered unhealthy to have so many people in such close confinement. On that basis once again SHS does not present a problem at all.
With regard to possible legal action by staff (I don’t think inmates would dare) being brought against inmates or the prison service in general because of SHS, well then I can’t for the life of me see how any substantive case can be made against SHS. What would be the evidence? Is there for example any prior documented evidence of prison staff suffering from any respiratory ailments – and to what degree can that be necessarily attributed to SHS and not confounding factors that we experience in our every day lives? How much time would one have to spend in the presence of a smoker to develop any kind of respiratory effect?  Let’s be honest if any such case was ever going to be brought, then it would have happened before now....don't you think?

Look forward to seeing the outcome of this – how about you?

The more intelligent of you can continue 
but the rest must move on

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