Well over half the population in England and Wales are illiterate. That statistic alone paints a story of the current state of modern Britain. It suggests certain people are thrown into jail, and they are the most disadvantaged and oppressed in society. For those people who have not been taught basic reading and writing skills for whatever reason, are denied attending education classes of any sort, their working lives are limited and many will find it difficult to find work of any kind, it is therefore logical to deduce from this that some people will inevitably end up behind bars. The more poor and uneducated a person is the more chance there is of finding themselves in prison. When they are released, the same circle they are ensnared in continues, and so such people will spend most of their lives in prison.
For those that are unable to read the more real is the threat of abuse and bullying. This happens everywhere while these oppressed, bewildered and tortured are sent to prison. This comes in the form of other prisoners, officers, and they are often manipulated and deceived by the police in the process of being interviewed by them, betrayed by their solicitors and barristers and so on. But all this has not happened by chance, this war against unpeople has been raging for many years, and now it is deemed acceptable by working adults in prisons. But it does appear, on the face of it at least, the government is doing something to tackle this problem. For illiterate men and women, they have the opportunity to read in prison. This is done through what is known as Toe by Toe. Toe by Toe is an ingenious way that teaches people to read. The Shannon trust, founded in 1997 by farmer, Christopher Morgan. In the early 1990s he was corresponding with a prisoner, Tom Shannon, the trust is named after him. There, Morgan learned about the appalling illiteracy rates in prison, and people must be eternally grateful for his services. Toe by Toe mentors are not professional teachers who teach prisoners how to read, but by unpaid prisoners. So much for the government helping these people.
The government prattle on about getting people back into work but people with little or no formal education that is when the crime of poverty materialises. This is when men and women steal, rob, mug, sell illegal substances and so forth. They are using their skills, because often it is the only skills they have. The weak and disadvantaged will always be brutalised and marginalised in a capitalist society, because capitalism is synonymous with greed, avarice and plutocracy. The persecution of these people is perfectly simple. But something much worse is hiding. It is because of their vulnerability they are quite likely to be sent to prison for committing no crime and thus rendering them innocent victims.
When over half the prison population is unable to read and write that shows how rapacious class war has become. There is no democracy in a society where there is no freedom of opportunity. Weakness will always be targeted in prison, so far example they will sign important documents they are unable to read, they will ask fellow prisoners to receive their meals, have visits and send out mail. Some prisoners will use methods of blackmail to enact this service. They, also, are unable to attend education, as education in prison is for people that are literate to some degree at least. So it is left to the unpaid Toe by Toe mentors.
But it need not be this way and we know it. It is a pathetic state of affairs but we now live in a fiscal-fascist world, only the people that have the nefarious desire to make money and outlandish profits will receive state protection and the rest of society are left to fend for themselves. It is a sick and perverse ideology, but it is an ideology that sets the global framework, and that framework is called the free market.
Only in a globally fascist-designed economic system, i.e the free market would you get such victims rotting in prison for the biggest crime of all: being poor. Yet who must be culpable? These working class societies, or rather concentration camp environments, are designed, not an act of god or made up of some random accident. It is through successive governments that have persecuted the poor and have had a hugely successful clandestine war against them and the result is seeing these people in excessively high numbers coming into the British punitive system. Being poor is a crime in itself, but to attempt to better yourself that is rather unacceptable; the only way for these people to create a better life for themselves is to commit crimes.
The prison industrial prison complex is the most barbaric of all institutions. It is largely the weak and persecuted that find themselves there. It is akin to T.S Eliot’s Waste Land. These people, we are led to believe, are expendable. Not being able to read in contemporary Britain is itself a disability. What a tragedy and scandal it is that somebody is unable to read a newspaper, the works of classic authors, their local history, the tombstones of their parents, the ingredients on packaged food and so on. This is overlooked by almost everybody, as people have other interests and agendas. It is all rather deplorable.
But many see illiteracy as only being a problem in the developing world. We have seen this is false. Perhaps one could argue certain sections of British society are subject to third-world conditions; this is plausible. What people fail to recognise is that in every country in the world a two-tier “justice” system exists. That is those that have state protection seldom find themselves in prison and those that do not have this protection do find themselves incarcerated and in many instances they have done no wrong.
See my previous blogs for my other prison essays. My next prison essay will be posted shortly
31st January, 2014