Get back in your cell, or I’ll hit you with my certificate

Now this was funny. A charity thinks all prison officers should have degrees. These guys are living so far from the real world it’s awesome.

I know a couple of prison officers, who work in a Cat B jail – one notch below the worst of the worst. They’re not what you’d call intellectuals – but what they ARE is the salt of the earth. Ex-army, cheerfully competent shaven-headed guys who let the stresses of dealing with the hard nuts wash over them. They’re precisely the sort of people you want in charge of prisoners.

Imagine the picture. Some snot-nosed sociology graduate thinking he can command respect out of 600 badasses by waving his degree certificate at them. Doesn’t quite work, does it?

Obviously some prisoners respond to counselling, but for psychological or OB methods to “take” there’s got to be some minimum level of understanding between trainer and trainee; you can’t talk if you’re on different planets. Without making any judgement on the causes of crime, the average reading age of a British prisoner is 7. By the time someone hits jail, the sad reality is that they’re lost. The game is to control and secure them, not surround them with bloody New Labourites filled with that most dangerous of beliefs: that We Can Make You Better.

The average reading age of a British squaddie – the profession most likely to appear on the CV of a prison officer – is 11. To make a sweeping generalisation, they’re people from the same social conditions as prisoners… who had the guts and character to make better choices in life.

I’m all for education, but make it the right kind of education. This “Howard Charity” may not be government, but it’s almost certainly funded by government, and it’s obviously picked up some of the current administration’s more dangerous traits.

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