Prisons should provide a base level of living that a society deems acceptable. They should also be safe, for inmates, staff, and for the wider public, and they should offer opportunities for prisoner reform. Prisoners should have, at the very least, the minimum standard of living that a society considers is acceptable for a human being to exist without duress. Prison life should represent the bottom line of society, below which NO ONE should have to live. If there are people not in prison living below that line then SOCIETY is failing them. Government is failing them.
We should, as a society, wish for everyone in our society to live life at what we would consider to be a ‘civilised’ level, whatever we decide that is. Otherwise, we are not a civilised society. We should not tolerate people being excluded from living a civilised life. Not because we have to agree with everyone in our society, not because we have to ‘tolerate’ them or their behavior or their crimes but because it is what makes our society civilised, without exclusion.
We should aspire for prisoners to live good lives because it means that we have set a standard for living in our society that is good and we do not permit anyone within our society to live below it. We spend more to prison our worst criminal offenders than average prisoners but we aren’t paying that money to them. The enormous costs involved in maintaining our prison population include sizeable profits for the companies our government have outsourced prisons to. There are people getting very rich from our spending on prisoners, and it is not the prisoners.
People are right to point out when sections of our society have it worse than people in prisons but the solution is not to make things harsher for prisoners, it is to raise the quality of life for those with worse lives outside of prison. If you lower the bar of what an acceptable life is for one element of society, ‘even’ if they are prisoners, then you are setting that bar lower for society generally. Britain’s prisons are in crisis because the Tories have sacrificed effective management and staffing of prisons to their idolatry of exposing taxpayers money to privateers. If forced, they will increase spending but they will do so in an attempt to ring-fence the profits being siphoned out of prison budgets to privateers; just as they have in Education with schools. No cost is too high for British taxpayers to pay for the Tories to worship at their god of privatisation. The Tories have already sacrificed social care, massively disproportionately affecting the elderly, and they have pensioners firmly in their sights for further “reforms”. Prisoners aren’t the enemies of the state, it’s privateer worshiping Tory governments.