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#543#544#545#546 Episode #547 - Outing Prison 2
(FASD and What is Prison For Anyway?)



Sun 17 April 2011  David Boulding, Vivien Stern, Charles Eisenstein (reading)
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week we continue our investigation into the incarceration industry. Firstly, a look at FASD, a congenital brain deficiency caused by mothers who drink excessive alcohol while pregnant. Second, a speech by prison reformer Vivien Stern on how the terrifying reality of the prison system in UK. We conclude with a rebroadcast of a section from Charles Eisenstein on 'life under contract' about the deeper reasons behind the push to incarcerate ever more of the population.
We start this week's show with an interview with David Boulding on the topic of FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). David Boulding is a lawyer who became increasingly interested in this topic after noticing how the criminal justice system was failing those who suffered from this form of brain damage, which he says, over a lifetime, implies a 75-85% chance of going to jail. He explains the medical nature of the disability, and what should be done to help its sufferers.

We continue with a lecture from prison reformer and member of the UK House of Lords, Vivien Stern. She starts by recounting the story of Adam Rickworth, a teenager who killed himself after being brutalized by prison staff. After legal proceedings by his family, his treatment was ruled illegal, prompting the government to change the law to allow such treatment of minors.

Vivien Stern notes that the use of law and prisons erodes trust, and that the huge difference in national incarceration rates cannot be explained by different crime or detection rates, but is associated instead with rates of trust and community. The UK, she states, is leading the world in criminalizing human behaviour, and created over 1000 new imprisonable offences since 1997.

Asking "What is Prison For?", Vivien Stern notes that Patricia Amos was sent to prison for not sending her daughter to school, Jonathan Holmes was sent to prison for 8 months for breaching his ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) which banned him from several areas of the town of Wisbech. She concludes that citizens would be better served if national governments stopped using punishment as a tool of social policy and focussed on helping victims rather than punishing offenders.

We conclude the show by replaying section 5.8, 'Life Under Contract' of Ascent of Humanity, which gives us a broader view on why prison is expanding its reach. Eisenstein highlights the futility of modern efforts to disambiguate every area of human conduct, separating activities into the explicitly prohibited and the explicitly allowed.
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