Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tomato crime, the hurt of women inside and white collar prisoners buying an easier time.

One of classic texts on crime and punishment is Jeffrey Reiman’s The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison. Now in its 8th edition the book sets out how the criminal justice system is distorted by power and as a result fails to address the offending of the rich and powerful and instead focuses on the often petty offending of the poor and powerless.

The evidence for this thesis is overwhelming and we see it everyday. Whilst the financial crisis, corporate killings and MPs “expenses” do not result in criminalisation the forces of law and order have moved swiftly to deal with Mrs Linda Ware, a 61 tear old Grandmother living in a council flat (what more evidence of criminality is needed) who is being threatened with an ASBO and a potential five years imprisonment for
growing tomatoes in the communal hallway.

Yet occasionally a rich bastard does get done. This is particularly the case when he (it normally is) gets caught thieving off his own kind. Robbing the poor is rarely a problem but robbing the robbers can provoke a response. These few cases are used as an example that the law applies to the rich as well thus justifying the punishment and imprisonment of thousands of poor and powerless people.

Prison is painful, particularly for those with histories of abuse and poor mental health. Recent evidence of this is the
epidemic of self-harm in the UK’s women's jails. But from the States we learn that the few rich people facing jail can use their wealth to prepare by, for $200 an hour hiring a prison coach

According to the New York Times, Steven Oberfest, the CEO of Prison Coach offers the following services:

His sessions are conducted in his upper East Side apartment and at a training facility nearby. For those under house arrest, Oberfest even makes house calls.

He typically opens with a primer on the nuts and bolts of prison life, demystifying jailhouse routines and things like commissary.

"If you're confused about something, you can't go to a correction officer and ask him what's happening because the other inmates will think you're a snitch," Oberfest said.

He offers up a workout routine suitable for life in a 6-by-9-foot cell and breaks down common prison lingo. Mental training, focusing on meditation techniques, comes next, followed by close-quarter combat lessons.

In the Oberfest school of prison survival, the ability to instantly stop a burly attacker is essential. "If someone is able to totally disgrace you the first day you walk in, that just opens the door for everybody not to respect you," Oberfest said. "The most important thing is mutual respect."

So now even the few rich people who are sent to prison as sacrifices for their class get to buy an advantage. Anyone who has read Archer’s Prison Diary will have noticed how he was able to use his wealth to buy privileges. He even maintaining his supply of bottled water meaning imprisonment never meant he had to do anything as common as drink out of a tap.

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