22/03/12 The Lineman (for the county)

A lineman – as I’m sure you’ll know from the song (ask your parents) is a fixer of electricity wires to ensure that we have the energy required to watch Pippa Pig and the likes.

It had been very windy. Tempestuous. And this guy and his colleagues had been using a helicopter to mend a wire – are you insane?

Back in the day when I did the social workering, I had a client who’d done a similar job – he’d found the stress of it all too much and now had post traumatic stress disorder – he lived in a house where the curtains were never opened – he was a ‘bad’ client in that he didn’t want any of the services offered – day centre – respite care – home help (he did have help with his shopping) – social care worker and the like.

He was quite content with regular – but not frequent visits from a social worker (me) – this wasn’t really how it was supposed to be – as a social worker it was my role to assess the clients need and then, if necessary, buy services in….but that, as they say, was a million years ago…

I met this particular lineman in Aultbea – we talked, briefly, about social work – he suggested that he wouldn’t have the patience and would throw away the key and the like…I suggested we wouldn’t want to be like the States with a prison population of 2 million – a quarter of the world’s prison population….we talked about the 3 strikes and you’re out policy and how that has contributed to such high numbers in jail – I mentioned how a 2 strikes and your out policy nearly slipped under the radar in the UK here

And then he told me something I didn’t know – prison labour in the States and how prisoners make helmets, armoured vests,

ammunition belts -for the US armed forces – but not just the forces – and not just uniforms –
Take a look here

And here

many big companies are part of this – and we thought workfare was scary.
Apparently the states don’t like the idea of slave labour.

You couldn’t make this up

Ok , there is an argument for prisoners doing something to pay their debt back to society…but when we think of the folk in prison…many with mental health problems, people with learning disabilities, minority ethnic groups are still vastly over-represented in our prisons – ludicrously so in the USA….

Your prison labour costs 30 cents an hour. If your prisoner refuses – well there are repercussions…

Let’s not follow their example…

We could call it workfare max…

Walk a mile

Chris

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