Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought before this court and it is now my duty to pronounce sentence.
‘You are an habitual person of lived experience, who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner.
‘However, since the offences to which you have admitted guilt are all considered to be non-violent, I must pass the maximum term allowed. You are free to go.’
Welcome to Porridge, 2023-style. According to the woke bureaucrats at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) criminals must no longer be called ‘convicts’.
Apparently, the term is deemed offensive. The correct way to describe them is ‘persons of lived experience’, even if that lived experience involves everything from armed robbery to murder.
Civil servants at the Prison Service headquarters have also instructed warders to drop the phrase ‘ex-con’ for former prisoners. Pictured: HMP Bridgend
Welcome to Porridge, 2023-style: According to the woke bureaucrats at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) criminals must no longer be called ‘convicts’ (Pictured: Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher in the classic 1970s prison comedy)
The fictional Norman Stanley Fletcher wasn’t a violent offender… But he accepted his punishment and eventually learned his lesson (Pictured: Fletcher with Brian Wilde’s prison guard Mr Barrowclough)
Once they are released from jail, being called ‘convicts’ or ‘ex-cons’ could stigmatise the poor lambs for life. They should instead be referred to as ‘prison leavers’ — presumably to differentiate them from ‘prison remainers’.
Mark Fairhurst, of the Prison Officers’ Association, told the Mail’s David Barrett: ‘Yet again, do-gooding civil servants are spending their working hours trying to manipulate the English language to fit their personal world-view, rather than concentrating on things that really matter.’
What we’re seeing here is another blatant example of obstructive Left-wing civil servants straining every sinew to defy the wishes of a democratically-elected Conservative Government.
Last year, then Justice Secretary Robert Buckland scuppered MoJ plans to rebrand prisoners as ‘residents’, ‘service users’ or ‘supervised individuals’.
But rather than accept defeat, the Blob has now hit back with persons of ‘lived experience’ — the current buzz-phrase of the hand-wringing Left, deployed increasingly to elevate the feelings of individuals over harsh reality, or what used to be called ‘the truth’.
How long before prison officers have to be called ‘carers’?
Over the years, this column has occasionally used Porridge as a device to highlight the rapidly evolving insanity of the so-called criminal ‘justice’ system. These days, it’s beyond parody.
Tony Blair won a landslide election victory promising to be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. Today, that should read ‘soft on crime, soft on criminals’.
Mark Fairhurst, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘Yet again, do-gooding civil servants are spending their working hours trying to manipulate the English language to fit their personal world-view’
Over the years, this column has occasionally used Porridge as a device to highlight the rapidly evolving insanity of the so-called criminal justice system. These days, it’s beyond parody (Pictured: Fletcher and Richard Beckinsale as Lennie Godber)
Repeat offenders are indulged time and again. Any excuse for not sending them to prison.
This mindset doesn’t just infect the Guardianistas who now monopolise the Home Office, the MoJ, the courts system, the DPP and the police. It’s even spread to what was once the highest reaches of the Conservative Party, which used to be considered the staunch custodian of law and order.
This week, John Major made a speech to the Prison Reform Service, arguing for a reduction in prison population. He said those convicted of ‘non-violent’ offences should receive non-custodial sentences, rather than being sent to jail.
Most of us would agree with that, if it prevented those who fail to pay the BBC licence, and confused women nicked for shoplifting, being banged up unnecessarily.
Major claimed that most of the 26,000 ‘non-violent’ prisoners — sorry, persons of lived experience — probably shouldn’t be behind bars.
But he failed to define exactly what he meant by ‘non-violent’. Just because a crime doesn’t involve physical violence, it doesn’t mean it’s any less serious.
Former Prime Minister John Major made a speech to the Prison Reform Service, arguing for a reduction in prison population. He said those convicted of ‘non-violent’ offences should receive non-custodial sentences, rather than being sent to jail
‘In 2023, if Johnny Major and the wokerati who run the Ministry of Justice had their way, practically no one would be doing porridge’ (Pictured: Barker and Beckinsale)
Burglary doesn’t usually involve violence, but it is devastating nonetheless. So is fraud. This week, we learned that scams are costing the country £2,300 a minute. People are having their life savings, investments and pensions stolen by online conmen.
Yesterday it was reported that of the £485 million defrauded in bank transfer scams last year, only half was reimbursed.
What’s the difference between cleaning out someone’s bank account over the internet and going across the cobbles with a sawn-off Purdey? It’s only a matter of degree.
And what about drug dealers peddling crack at school gates, or organised car theft gangs. Is Major seriously suggesting that none of those responsible for any of these crimes should be sent to prison, just because nobody got bashed over the head?
Major has certainly changed his tune since he was Prime Minister. Back in 1993, he was fully behind his Home Secretary Michael Howard, who declared ‘prison works’.
Howard was dead right. In the five years from 1988, the prison population was cut by 10 per cent — and crime rocketed to all-time high levels.
After 1993, the number of criminals being sent to jail rose 45 per cent. And crimes fell from 19.1 million to 12.06 million in 2001, when ‘tough on crime’ Labour ripped up Howard’s hardline ‘prison works’ policy. It’s been downhill ever since.
Leniency, however well-intentioned, has backfired frequently. The courts are regularly called upon to deal with those who have re-offended after being given non-custodial sentences. If they had been incarcerated earlier, they would not have been free to rob, rape and kill subsequently.
The fictional Norman Stanley Fletcher wasn’t a violent offender. His crimes ranged from a bit of light breaking and entering to stealing a lorry. But he accepted his punishment and eventually learned his lesson.
The sequel to Porridge was called Going Straight, with chastened ‘prison leaver’ Fletch trying to earn an honest living for the first time in his life.
If he’d been given a series of non-custodial sentences from the off, would he ever have gone straight? Unlikely.
But in 2023, if Johnny Major and the wokerati who run the Ministry of Justice had their way, practically no one would be doing porridge.
These days the only TV dramas set behind bars feature sympathetic portrayals of wrongly-convicted victims suffering terrible miscarriages of justice.
Any scriptwriter who suggested to the BBC that they make a prison-based comedy featuring criminals who actually deserved to be in jail would be laughed out of court.
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