Monday, 31 March 2008
Prisoners' thinking can be very twisted.
Recently I was talking to a prisoner who was arguing that if he had his way all "junkies" would be given an injection in the neck and put down. This man is an alcoholic. In my usual diplomatic way (!) I pointed out that alcoholism was an addiction too. He wasn't pleased and said that no, alcholism is a disease. I was unable to persuade him that there were any similarities between the addictions.
But jail's like that. There is a pecking order of crime. In a jail containing only sex offenders, the rapists (i.e. rapes of adult victims) see themselves better than the paedophiles. In other jails, prisoners classify themselves as better than some other class of offence. Prisoners often lie to one another about the nature of their offence to make it more "acceptable". Incidentally, murder, which we might (hopefully DO) see as very bad, isn't looked down on so much in jail whereas other offences, like mugging an old lady, are seen as beyond the pale.
I have found this very interesting, and yet I have also found myself wondering if perhaps ALL human beings do exactly this. According to our own various personal measuring schemes we rate others as above or below us. A dear and very ancient relative of mine openly judges people on how good their speech is (she once studied elocution herself).
I heard a prison officer recently refer to all the prisoners collectively and dismissively as "scrotes" - I think he validates himself, in a way, by finding a group of people he feels superior to.
Do I do it? I hope not, but I fear I do.