Your Man in Saughton Jail Part 3 59

The Scottish Parliament is under the untrue impression that Scottish prisons run under the fairly liberal Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 laid before parliament by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP on 14 September 2011. In fact the Scottish Prisons Service totally ignores them and is absolutely a law unto itself.

I intend to prove this to you. Let me start with a very basic rule: the availability of the rules to prisoners. This is plainly set out in the rules themselves.

This was specifically continued in the covid update:

This law – and it is a law – is deliberately ignored by the prison authorities. On entering the prison, I was asked to wear prison uniform. I had been told by my lawyers that civil and remand prisoners have the right to wear their own clothing. I therefore asked to see the prison rules.

I was not shown the prison rules. First I was told they were held on a different level and arrangements would have to be made. Then several days later I was told they were in the prison library but the library was closed because of covid. Then some weeks later I was told they were unavailable to prisoners.

Prisoners have no internet access, but I had asked my lawyers to send me a copy of the Rules and they eventually arrived, including many documents of amendments. I then took up the matter of wearing my own clothing. This is very important because it affected a third of the prisoners in Saughton, who were on remand – “untried” in official parlance.

It also mattered to me because it was upsetting for my family when visiting to see me in prison clothing. Avoiding This indignity is precisely why civil and untried prisoners – who are entitled to the presumption of innocence – have for centuries been entitled to their own clothing.

Continuation of that centuries old tradition, except in unusual circumstances, is undoubtedly what the Scottish Parliament believed was being laid before them here:

But the Scottish Prisons Service completely ignores the right, established here in law, for civil and untried prisoners to wear their own clothing, claiming that it only applies inside the prison cell (which appears nowhere in the legislation).

I actually took this issue through the complaints process in the prison, to a prison tribunal of three prison officers held on 30 August 2021, the result of which was the tribunal claimed that under para 32 (4) the Governor had the right to instruct civil and remand prisoners to wear prison clothing for the security and management of the prison.

I pointed out that those provisions are clearly meant to apply to any problematic qualities of the particular clothing of an individual prisoner. 32 (4) could not be intended to abolish the entire right that it qualified. 32 (5) plainly reserved to Scottish ministers the power to make any more general cancellation of the right for whole classes of the prison population.

No Scottish minister has ever canceled the right of civil and remand prisoners to wear their own clothes. The Scottish Prisons Service has simply done it contrary to the law laid before Parliament.

This meant nothing to the prison staff forming the tribunal. They did not, at the tribunal, have a copy of the The Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 available to them either. What they were going by was Scottish Prison Service memos which totally ignore the Rules – which is to say, totally ignore the law.

Rights which parliament believes to have been granted to prisoners are again and again severely circumscribed by the Scottish Prison Service.

The right to have books is circumscribed in Saughton jail by a rule that prisoners may only have books purchased and sent direct from Blackwell’s in Oxford. “Other means of amusement” is circumscribed to a very small list of articles but only if they are purchased through the prison, at a much higher price than commercially.

I bought from the jail an Akai radio for the eye-watering price of £34.95. It took seven weeks to arrive. You can buy a Playstation from the jail, or a choice of just three jigsaws, but you cannot buy a chess set. When you are locked in your cell for 23 hours a day, these things are very important.

The right to correspondence in para 54 of the the prison rules is circumscribed by strict arbitary limitations set by the prison governor on the number of stamps you may purchase. The right to use the telephone at para 62 is circumscribed by the stipulation that you may only call a list of phone numbers you must register in advance. So if you need unexpectedly to talk to your children’s school or to the taxman, for example, you cannot do it.

In short, the prisoners’ rights contained in the law are systematically reduced, again and again and again, by the Scottish Prison Service. Some times this is probably legal, using provisions related to security in the prison rules, at other times it appears simply illegal, as in denying the right for civil and remand prisoners to wear their own clothing.

What is plain is that the Scottish Prison Service cares not one jot for the legal framework under which it is supposed to operate, either in letter or in spirit.

How has this situation arisen? Well, the most important factor is complete neglect by ministers and a lack of any political control over the Scottish Prisons Service.

Following the excellent MacAskill, who established the legislation, Scotland has had two total duds as Justice Minister – firstly Humza Yusuf, who is lazy and feckless, and then Keith Brown, who is lazy and stupid. The SPS has therefore been able to do what it likes.

The second problem is that there is nobody to stand up for the rights of prisoners. As I explain in the first two parts of my prison memoir, the large majority of the prison population have come from lives of deprivation, institutionalisation and addiction. They are not conscious of their rights.

Most prisoners are dependent on legal aid for their legal representation – which is often peremptory at best as the entire system is straining to breaking point. There is no legal aid available for bringing cases on prison conditions. All the actors – prisoners, their lawyers and prison staff – are imbued by the same sense of hopelessness and absolute cynicism.

Those managing the prison have, on a day to day basis, two overriding priorities to which everything else is subordinated. The first is reducing the flow of drugs into the jail. The second is keeping different classes of prisoners separate.

Therefore prisoners’ access to stamps – and thus their ability to communicate with their friends and family – is limited because allegedly stamps are used as currency inside prison to buy drugs. Access to books is limited because the pages of books can be impregnated with drugs. For the same reason prisoners are not permitted photographs of their families, which is particularly cruel.

The extraordinary thing is that the banning of anything and everything in the aim of stopping the flow of drugs has no effect whatsoever. Drugs in prison are available with a freedom you cannot believe. Not one day passed of my time in prison when I did not witness druges passing between prisoners.

Trying to stop the stuff getting in is plainly hopeless. A much more sensible approach would be to look at why people whose basic problem is addiction form the majority of prisoners, when prison does absolutely nothing to cure addiction.

Remand prisoners are not allowed to wear their own clothing because the prison’s priority is the distinction of different classes of prisoners. Personally I have my doubts about a system of which the practical effect is to put sexual offenders in maroon so other prisoners know who to kill, but there you are.

The Scottish Prisons Service is not driving a coach and horses through the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 legislation out of gratuitous cruelty. It is doing so as it views that as the best way to fulfil its operational plan, and because nobody seems to care enough about prisoners to note that it is illegal.

So we have a massive dichotomy between what the law says about the governance of Scotland’s prisons, and what actually happens.

I should make plain that I did not suffer, at any stage, from any cruelty or unpleasantness from prison officers (bar one brief and minor incident). I was personally treated with kindness and courtesy, and in view of my status as a civil prisoner a number of Saughton’s practices, for example on books, were altered for me to be more in line with the actual law.

I am writing from concern for those now in jail, and for the highly unsatisfactory situation where the administration of the punitive force of the state is itself carried out illegally.

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59 thoughts on “Your Man in Saughton Jail Part 3

  • Margaret Eleftheriou

    Dear Mr Murray
    Beyond horrified by the clear and factual account of actual practice in Scottish prisons. Can you indicate what an ordinary pensioner not at present in Scotland(myself) could do to bring about a material change in these circumstances?
    Incidentally, I sent you some books but via the Guardian Bookshop. Does this mean that you did not receive them after all? I took some care in choosing them, hoping that they would end up in the prison library and might be eventually helpful to other prisoners.

    • craig Post author

      Hi Margaret,

      again they made a special exception for me so I got some, but by no means all, of the books sent. I recognise your name of course. Can you remind me of the books?

      • Ian Robert Stevenson

        I just sent a card with a picture of a puppy. More use than my thoughts.
        Dogs make most people smile a bit. I must admit that I had no doubt it would reach you. Naive of me perhaps.

      • Glen Affric

        Hi Craig, your accounts from the jail have been eye opening. Whilst the plight of all in such conditions is depressing. It is unimaginable how one particular prisoner has endured them. The prisoner who was jailed as an innocent teenager and who has not seen justice.
        Have you any thoughts on his plight? Because your account of conditions might help make the public more aware of not just the pointless conditions but the instances that someone can be jailed. From journalists to drug dependants and a boy who was framed by incompetancy and shoddy policing and tried by media. Corrupt policing you could say, as they refused to admit their mistakes and that has resulted in a violent murderer still free whilst a young man has spent more years in jail than he had lived free. Convicted by the hysterical mainstream media, on no evidence whatsoever. There are plenty of lawyers in Scotland but along with prisoners in jails there is no advocacy at all for ordinary folk. Nothing to help medical patients in Scotland, nothing compared to England, almost nothing for tenants or even aspiring tenants in Scotland who have been up against poor practice and corruption by our local authorities, and as highlighted by yourself here – the Scottish Prison Service. Whilst it is not the mid 19th century, so much of the efforts of progressives then that had an impact in the 20th Century such as setting up of schools for all, local baths and decent housing, treating people with decency has all been hurtling backwards in my lifetime towards relatively to what Dickens might recognise.

  • Republicofscotland

    “All the actors – prisoners, their lawyers and prison staff – are imbued by the same sense of hopelessness and absolute cynicism.”

    It sounds like the above sentence of yours just about sums it all up, they know the prison will do the bare minimum where necessary, I suppose when you treat people like this, some of them who had no interest in using drugs on the outside, would find the sheer sense of hopelessness on the inside a turning point to begin to use drugs, how terrible it must be to go into prison drug free, only to be liberated but hooked on drugs, caused by conditions on the inside.

  • Colin Alexander

    My own experience of public authorities in Scotland has led me to form the same conclusions that basically they do whatever they like, in breach of the law, with little or no political or legal scrutiny.

    I used to write to Craig hoping to discuss this with him but he has never replied but, he’s a busy man. e.g. Julian Assange’s etc plight rightly takes precedence.

    To cut a long story short, when complaints of serious human rights abuses were made the complaints responses were whitewashes by senior managements. Collusion and cover up.

    The SPSO ombudsman service in Scotland is literally better than nothing only because there is nothing else. The general starting point for the SPSO is that whatever the public authority asserts, those are the facts, no matter what lies are told by public officials.

    Writing to the Scottish Govt or asking an MSP to help is a waste of time: Once they are elected they don’t want to know. SNP, Labour, Tories etc. Once elected they are part of the Establishment you are complaining about.

    So, equality and human rights in Scotland are for those who can afford to pay for a solicitor to fight to uphold those rights in court knowing they risk facing a legal bill amounting of thousands of pounds, whether they win or lose, unless they can conduct , AND WIN, their own legal case against the best solicitors and advocates the UK state and multi-national insurance companies can afford with ease.

    Then it’s a case of fighting the state, and their multi-national insurance company, and hoping you get an unbiased Sheriff who cares about justice for the plebs against the state who employs the Sheriff.

    Legal Aid? The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s (SLAB) own figures show that in 2/3 of Equality Act based applications for legal aid against public authorities, the public authority involved, or in many cases the public authority’s insurer’s solicitor, write to SLAB to oppose the granting of legal aid. Despite SLAB and the other public authorities being under an Equality Act legal duty to promote equality and under a Human Rights Act duty to enable a fair trial.

    I cannot see how SLAB inviting another public authority, and a public authorities then persuading SLAB to refuse legal aid for Equality Act based legal action can be considered lawful (when the opposition to legal aid is not on financial eligibility grounds), when public authorities are under a legal duty to promote equality. This is a SLAB procedure that pre-dates the Equality Act but has been continued.

    The SLAB statistics show, those legal aid applications opposed by public authorities are significantly more likely to be refused legal aid.

    If Craig ever wants to discuss this with me he can get in touch.

  • DiggerUK

    I am surprised to find that prisoners in Scottish jails are not self taught barrack room lawyers. Most prisoners I know, who have been through the English prison system, were well versed about their rights.

    Your account of how little Scottish remand prisoners seem to want to argue their corner seems odd. And this is at a time when it is reported that remand prisoners in Scotland are at record numbers.
    Did you get the impression that it was not of that much importance to those incarcerated, or is there some chance that they were wary of recriminations should they rock the boat?

    It seems very Mr. and Mrs. Bumble at best…_

  • Dave M

    Thank you for this, Craig. If any good comes from your ridiculous incarceration, it will be reform of the prison system. It’s clear that the system is rotten. Many years ago when I visited a friend in Saughton, I witnessed a potential exchange of drugs orally, under the gaze of a prison officer. The prison authorities must know exactly how and where the drugs are coming in. The will to do anything about it is obviously lacking.

    The prison system is clearly unfit for purpose. Prison doesn’t work anyway, and it’s extremely expensive. Scotland imprisons the highest proportion of the population compared with the rest of Europe, at a time when crime is falling. And to cap it all, a trans-identifying male paedophile has apparently been transferred to Cornton Vale (female prison) after allegedly seriously assaulting a male prisoner at Polmont. That is clearly wrong as it puts female prisoners at further risk.

    The entire criminal justice system in Scotland needs to be rethought, but I wouldn’t trust the SNP to do it.

    • SleepingDog

      @Dave M, it cannot be long before the SNP rule in favour of Past Lives Theory, another Soullist ideology associated with right-wing ego-dominance expressions. Expect prisoners lining up to claim they were once Mary Queen of Scots to get better prison grub. Although designing new prisons to keep past-Catholics and past-Protestants apart and provide luxurious royal wings could be a challenge.

    • Squeeth

      If you want contraband in prison the limiting factor is price, the same as anywhere else. Turning a blind eye and/or taking a backhander gets it through whatever obstacles that are theoretically in the way. The fatuity of drug prohibitions is so obvious that I might not be the only person here who has wondered if they are a means of levying a private tax to cut the cost of government salaries.

  • Clark

    What an utterly hopeless situation when the supposedly correctional institutions don’t merely break their own rules but actively withhold access to them and even knowledge of their existence. Just like dominance ranking within a gang, the attitude it indoctrinates is “might makes right”. It is far worse than useless, directly promoting lawbreaking, bullying, and subservience to bullies.

    Shame on the Scottish government for this appalling dereliction of duty, but similar conditions exist in England too:

  • terence callachan

    When you have people at the top of government who break the rules who break the law and are then excused for doing so is it any wonder that such malaise spreads far and wide

  • Dave

    With age I am coming to realise that laws, like taxes, are for little people. In private the Labour Party ignores GDPR legislation whilst publicly preaching security and respect. The ICO is either complicit or ineffectual in the ensuing multiple data breaches over several years. Young people are jailed for stealing drinks or snacks during riots, whereas a policeman can club and kill a member of the public (Ian Tomlinson) and not serve any time. All of these happened under Keir Starmer’s watch and he is likely to be our next Prime Minister!

  • yesindyref2

    You could work backwards in a way to find the root cause. For instance:

    In many areas, including some of the poorest parts of the country, people are unable to access a legal aid solicitor.

    It’s worse than that really, a lot of solicitor practices are refusing legal aid work, and that is getting worse not better. Those solicitors doing it get paid half as much as those prosecuting so who wants to do it? Payments haven’t risen much in 20 years, and not anywhere near in line with inflation. While PFs have double their salaries. For instance: “the Scottish Government has proposed an £11 million increase in spend across both criminal and civil legal aid fees for solicitors” – a calculation I saw would suggest the figure would need to be more like £100 million.

    As I understand it, it’s the payment per case, and while in Scotland legal aid is more widely available than in England and Wales apaprently, the payment just doesn’t make it worth while for solicitors – and no, they’re not being greedy after 7 years of study getting perhaps (off the top of my head) £26,000 a year and being sent to courts 100 miles from their base as nobody else wants to touch it. Prosecutors get £50,000 and more.

    Hence, no availability to solicitors for most inmates, means no representation inside, no qualified observation of conditions, no ability to make any measure of complaint without being singled out.

    As I say, this is off the top of my head so E&OE, and fair comment etc.

    The Legal Aid system in Scotland is third world. The system, not the overworked tired solicitors.

    • yesindyref2

      MacAskill is no hero either Craig. In around 2012 he cut legal aid for civil cases to save just £2.5 million. Yes, £2.5 million. In fact, the SNP over 15 years of government in Scotland have been just as negligent over Justice as was the Labour / LibDem coalition. Yes, even including the LibDems.

    • Mayann

      Drug misuse deaths per million people: England 50 / England’s Scottish Colony 245 (NRS, 2021). This may cause one to recall that back in the 19th Century, Lin Zexu, on behalf of the Chinese Emperor Xuangong of Qing, wrote to Alexandrina Victoria of Hanover, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, politely asking her to stop her drug dealers shipping hundreds of tons of drugs into China as this had caused over 30% of Chinese people to become drug addicts. The response from Queen Victoria was to send in her gunboats and colonise Hong Kong to allow her Scottish and English drug dealers to continue their evil trade.

      • Alf Baird

        Yes, unfortunately colonialism is always a co-operative venture between the more ‘culturally assimilated’ native elites and the colonizer (Fanon; Memmi) who combine to haud-doun the mass o thair ain fowk. You won’t find many culturally assimilated natives (or colonizers) in a colonial jail.

        As Aime Cesaire put it, and pretty much as Craig illustrates: “Between colonization and civilization there is an infinite distance”, as reflects a people forced to exist between “two psychical and cultural realms”, and in which the dominant alien culture is lacking somewhat in “human values”.

        There is therefore a reason Scotland has ‘the highest prison population rate per head in western Europe’, and why one might reasonably relate this to the ongoing quest for independence and ‘liberation’, and what the UN terms as ‘Decolonization’.

        • yesindyref2

          There is therefore a reason Scotland has ‘the highest prison population rate per head in western Europe’, and why one might reasonably relate this to the ongoing quest for independence and ‘liberation’, and what the UN terms as ‘Decolonization’.

          With Scotland at 162 per 100,000 and England and Wales only just less at 159, that would make England (and Wales) a colony as well by that argument, whereas Northern Ireland at 97 would not be a colony. This may all come as some surprise to England in its ongoing quest for liberation!

          Spain at 116 would be at least partly a colony and Portugal at 120 even more so.

          I suspect the colony thing is nonsense, and there is a more normal reason, perhaps including a court system which is very very slow, and overworked.

          Nice try, but no colonial cigar!

          • Alf Baird

            You can believe whatever you want to believe. I tend to agree with the UN that self-determination independence is decolonization, my perspective also based on in-depth analysis of postcolonial theory, plus a lifetime experience of ‘living’ in a country that is ruled by another country and culture in all respects. You clearly have no idea what independence means or why it is necessary, which explains your apparent support for another dubious and unnecessary referendum.


          • yesindyref2

            Your reply has absolutely nothing to do with my reply which points out, and I repeat:

            With Scotland at 162 per 100,000 and England and Wales only just less at 159, that would make England (and Wales) a colony as well by that argument

            Deflection won’t work for you Alf, your attempt at correlation failed at the first hurdle.

          • Alf Baird

            Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru has no hesitation in considering Wales a colony, as did Sinn Fein in respect of Ireland, and still in regard to N. Ireland. Decolonisation, according to the UN, has always been the firm ground on which the right to self-determination of a people was applied.

            “As a matter of law, a referendum is not a required part of the process of becoming independent” (McCorkindale and McHarg 2020).

          • yesindyref2

            All you need to do is admit that you were wrongly trying to jump on a bandwagon when you said: “Scotland has ‘the highest prison population rate per head in western Europe’” to push your colonisation agenda, as England has nearly exact the same rate as Scotland and is NOT a colony, and that you were disrespecting those people – convicted criminals, those on remand, and those dedicated underpaid and overworked legal aid professionals in Scotland, who are suffering as a result of genuine and severe problems with Scotland’s criminal justice system, and its emphasis on conviction rates NOT Justice, for which it pays the prosecutors twice as much as the defence.

  • Antiwar7

    Showing once again, it’s not the system, but the people.

    The wrong people as Justice Minister, the wrong people as management of the prisons. I’m certain that if they were all Craig clones, all the laws would be followed, and there would be no decrease in safety.

    • SleepingDog

      @Antiwar7, but if the system regularly places incompetent or unsuitable people into posts, surely the problems are systemic? Or, if the “liars and swearers” outnumber the “honest” in society, perhaps endemic.

      • stuart mctavish

        Afraid I’ve been swearing a lot lately whilst “enjoying” Canada’s exploration of (possible examples of) the things you speak of during its emergency act inquiry

        The better known players are expected to testify next week but, If interested, Warcampaign youtube channel might prove an excellent place to catch up with some of the more illuminating incidents so far:

  • SameGreatApe

    Reminds me of these “auditors” on YouTube and I gather Facebook, members of the public who go to publicly accessible areas at private buildings, to openly film, to assess the procedures and if staff violate their rights or are generally rude or tyrants. Sometimes police stations, prisons. I only recently found about them, do people generally know about it?

    The biggest seems to be Auditing Britain and he has a friendly way about him but also assertive and keeps getting unlawfully detained and searched. I don’t think I’ve seen him in Scotland but I haven’t seen all. Another guy in Derbyshire was unlawfully grappled to the ground by police outside their own professional standards department. One guy did it in a Jobcentre in Cambridge and a manager apparently went out after him when it closed and beat him up in the street!

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      There used to be people called ‘prison visitors’ who could inspect at any hour, but that was done away with years ago.

  • Thomas

    Thank you for your very kind and considerate reply to the letter I sent to you whilst you were staying at her majesty’s pleasure. Sorry I didn’t reply as I suspected you had better things to do, but maybe not if they failed to provide you with enough books!

    Sometimes I have a silly fantasy that I can catch up on my reading backlog by getting sent to prison, but it seems that this is unrealistic!

    I am surprised that I am the 22nd comment after 12 hours of publication; looks like the newly liberalised Twitter is not allowing your messages the uncensored distribution that was once promised!

    • Shibboleth

      I’m surprised Craig was given a prison sentence for contempt – arguably a fine would have been more appropriate, although the Judge probably thought he would have raised money through his website quite easily. It was punitive and was meant to be seen as such. There are many people in prison who shouldn’t be there – because of failings in legal representation and non disclosure by the Crown, corrupt police officers and a judiciary divorced from reality.

      In the cell next to me was a 82 year old man with Alzheimer’s – no previous convictions. He was a lovely man – always smiling but couldn’t tell you his own name or hold a conversation. His wife had died 10 years ago – she was his carer – but after her death, a neighbour used to cook him meals and he paid her £100 week. When his savings run out and he only had his pension, there wasn’t sufficient money left over from his rent and council tax so she stopped the meals – but unfortunately he didn’t understand and kept turning up at her door. She obtained a restraining order through the police and of course he still kept turning up, so she reported him again and he was given a 10 month sentence by the magistrate. He had no idea that he was even in prison.

      He didn’t work so couldn’t earn a prison pay, but had a ‘pension’ payment of £6 per week. Most of the prisoners on the wing would buy him an item from their own canteen, so he was never short of anything, but it was a disgrace that he was in prison in the first place. That’s just one example. I was lucky in that I had my own cell for the majority of my stay – being locked down in a 12×7 room with AN Other and a shared toilet is not a pleasant experience. When one or the pair of you have Covid, it’s 23.5 hours a day for 10 days.

  • Clark

    “Drug addiction” and the Rat Park experiment.

    Addiction: The View from Rat Park by Bruce K. Alexander, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University:

    Rats confined to small cages with a supply of drugs but no stimulus and no company soon became “addicted” and eventually they overdosed themselves to death. But in a social group in a stimulating environment (nicknamed “Rat Park”), they mostly declined drugs, using them only occasionally, if at all. “Addicted” rats moved from solitary cages into Rat Park likewise mostly stopped taking the drugs, whereas rats from Rat Park moved to solitary cages became “addicts”.

    Colonial domination of native peoples also causes drug “addiction”:

    “The English colonial empire overran hundreds of native tribal groups in Western Canada in the 18th and 19th century. The native people were moved off expansive tribal lands onto very small reserves, completely destroying the economic basis of their cultures. Their children were taken from their parents and sent off to “residential schools” to be taught the white man’s culture so they could be assimilated. They were forbidden to speak their native languages and found themselves strangers in their own communities when they finally came home.

    – …once the native people were colonized alcoholism became close to universal. There were entire reserves where virtually every teenager and adult was either an alcohol or drug addict or “on the wagon”. There still are a few reserves like this. Addiction was not limited to alcohol, but eventually encompassed the full range of addictions found in the wider society: drugs, television, gambling, Internet, dysfunctional love relationships, etc.
    – At first, the English settlers explained the universal alcoholism of the natives with the a story of genetic vulnerability. They said “Indians just can’t handle liquor” and tried to solve the problem with strict alcohol prohibition. That didn’t work…

    – 1. In cases where alcohol was available to natives, but their cultures were not destroyed, they were able to incorporate alcohol into their native traditions without too much trouble. People drank and some people got plenty drunk on some occasions, but there was no widespread alcoholism.

    – 2. In cases where native cultures were destroyed, but alcohol was not available, native people showed many of the symptoms that are associated with mass alcoholism, without ever tasting a drop. In other words, people stopped doing productive work and taking care of their families and concentrated on aping the manners of the English invaders and idling away their time. Criminality and child neglect became problems, where they had not been before. But alcohol was not the cause because there wasn’t any.

    – 3. We now know that native people whose cultures have been destroyed are vulnerable to all the addictions that white people are. If Indians whose cultures have been destroyed have a genetic weakness for alcohol, they also have a genetic weakness for drugs, television, gambling, bingo, Internet, and dysfunctional love relationships.”

    This reminds me of the English stereotype of Scottish and Irish people being incurably alcoholic.

    The Globalisation Of Addiction: A Study In Poverty Of The Spirit:

    And here’s the original Rat Park paper:

    • Clark

      The prison system underpins colonialism. The prisons have to be appalling, precisely to maintain the existence of the underclass. That underclass is in turn necessary to demonstrate the supposedly inherent inferiority of the natives and thus the supposed superiority of the colonising state.

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      I spent long enough working in science laboratories not to necessarily believe *anything* I read in scientific paper, Clark. In any case, commonly abused drugs have a wide range of differing effects on different species, and rats aren’t Homo Sapiens. I may be wrong, but I’d say that you haven’t observed hardcore light & dark addiction up close (or even from a reasonably safe distance), or else you wouldn’t be putting the word ‘addiction’ in speech marks.

      From my ‘non-scientific’ experience: There isn’t a single personality type that covers all hard drug addicts but, in general, most of them started off as sociable, carefree extroverts, i.e. the people who tend to be the least prone to addictions, not least because they tend to have lower boredom thresholds. Those who became addicts because they couldn’t cope with the pain of the world are rarer but usually became addicted much quicker.

      Most addicts didn’t start taking hard drugs because they were socially isolated and, even after years of full-blown addiction, they usually still have a wide social circle, mostly other addicts of course – which is useful for committing acquisitive crime: division of labour etc. They also often have regular contact with people from various agencies who help them out with various aspects of everyday life, which is handy because being an addict is essentially a full-time job in itself.

      Maybe in the right ‘positive’ environment, many of them could be persuaded to turn their lives around but, in my experience, it’s often quite difficult to get a lot of people that aren’t drug addicts to see sense – which reminds me I should probably get back to you sometime on the ‘Decline of Fossil Fuels’ forum thread.

      • Clark

        Yes of course it’s more complicated in humans than in lab rats, and of course the substance plays a role, but the whole phenomenon is far more complicated than the term “drug addiction” is generally taken to mean. I am myself addicted to smoking tobacco in roll-ups. If it were merely addiction to nicotine, nicotine replacement would help, but it doesn’t. Smoking ready-made cigarettes barely helps either; if that’s all I can get I tear them up and make roll-ups out of them. Oddly, two ready-mades make three roll-ups, but one of those roll-ups is more effective than two ready-mades. I have managed to stop several times; it has always been unpleasant experiences that have started me off again.

        The Rat Park experiment has been replicated several times, and also failed replication several times, so it’s more complicated even in rats.

        Yes of course it takes more than a single scientific study to tease out the various effects in any complicated phenomenon; Rat Park is not to be dismissed.

      • Clark

        I don’t know what you mean by “hardcore light & dark addiction”. I have known quite a few people in various states of addiction, to various substances and behaviours.

        “in my experience, it’s often quite difficult to get a lot of people that aren’t drug addicts to see sense”

        I find that it is usually almost impossible to get most people to see sense about anything. And I feel that that is a major part of the reason that I find it hard to stop smoking roll-ups.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your replies, Clark. I’m a fellow tobacco addict, though I tend to prefer Embassy No 1’s (or ‘Signature Golds’ as we’re supposed to call them these days). My brother smokes rollies. There’s usually a force of habit component to most addictions, but with smoking it’s the nicotine that’s most responsible. I currently have no plans to quit* – though if cigarettes were made illegal and only available on the black market for a tenner a tab, I probably would. ‘Light & dark’ is northern slang for crack cocaine & heroin respectively – was forgetting you’re from the south. Nicotine is highly addictive, but it’s not even in the same ball-park as those two. I’m afraid that if scientific experiments aren’t consistently reproducible, they ain’t science.

          *Smoking is strongly linked to lung cancer of course, but it’s generally reckoned that, even in non-smokers, on average 3 – 5 cells a day turn cancerous. However, these are almost always dealt with by the immune system. The easiest way to look after that is to make sure you get adequate nutrition – in particular, sufficient vitamins & minerals from supplements. That’s what’s almost certainly kept my old man’s prostate cancer at bay, even though, due to the nasty side-effects, he stopped taking hormone injections nearly two years ago.

          • Clark

            “if scientific experiments aren’t consistently reproducible, they ain’t science.”

            That isn’t quite right – there are often confounding variables which may not be found until much later, especially in complex matters such as health, biology, psychology etc. Indeed, this is why so much health science is about statistical significance. Returning to topic, does it really seem likely that addicts will quit while banged up in appalling conditions, surrounded by corruption? Rat Park seems consistent with the prison context.

            I did live up north: York, Bradford, and there abouts, but that was in the 1980s, probably before the slang term arose. These days I’m in Scarbados quite frequently, but I don’t know any addicts there and hadn’t encountered the term.

            Best wishes for your dad.

      • Clark

        Lapsed Agnostic:

        “Most addicts didn’t start taking hard drugs because they were socially isolated…”

        This is another thing that’s more complex in humans; people can be socially isolated despite having lots of ‘friends’, and this seems to me to have got worse in recent years; social interaction seems to have become increasingly superficial. I can feel lonelier surrounded by people with whom conversation in depth proves impossible than I do on my own. I suppose that’s why I like blog comments; at least I can finish making my point without being interrupted.

  • Shibboleth

    I had no problems with stamps – I was fortunate to have kind friends and family who would write regularly and enclose a book of stamps with their letter. The major currency for day-to-day stuff is vape cartridges. Money for drugs is done on the outside – you obtain someone’s bank details and a third party does the transfer. Bent screws are paid in cash on the outside and provided they keep to the deal, they never see the supplier.

    If you have a job in prison, the pay is between £8 and £19 per week, depending on the establishment. That allows you to purchase essential items from a ‘canteen’ – a weekly list of goods – biscuits, sweets, toiletries, vapes, phone credit & etc. DHL have the contract for canteens in England – they add approx 50% on each item compared to the retail price outside. You can have money sent to your prison account if you’re fortunate – and if you have an enhanced status, £30 will drop down into your spends account each week which supplements your earnings. I managed to save up and buy a Bush AM/FM radio which cost me £76. I’ve seen the same radio in Argos for £29.99 since my release. Prisons are a business and more private prisons are being built in England – not sure about Scotland – which is really an admission of political failure.

    The primary failing is the probation service, which was privatised then nationalised again within the space of 10 years. There is no rehabilitation of prisoners and no support on release. Contrast the UK penal system with that of the Scandinavian countries which have a recidivism rate of 2-5% compared to 85% in the UK and you begin to see just what a mess we’re making of it.

  • Robert Dyson

    A waste in every way.
    Just lose-lose.
    The real fraudsters who have power get away with it.
    Another Greek legacy: “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

  • Ebenezer Scroggie

    The SNumPties like to fantasise that an amputated Scotland might become a miniature version of Norway. Utter bollocks of course.

    Take the Scottish Prison Estate and its management philosophy. Compare it to the Norwegian way of running its prison system. To get a glimpse of it, try looking at Michael Moore’s short video on YouTube about Norwegian Prison. There are plenty of other videos on that topic all over YouTube.

    The SNumPties have had total domination of the Pygmy Parliament and of the former Scottish Executive, pompously renamed Scottish Government by Wee Eck, for nigh on a decade and a half. What have they done to emulate the success of the Norwegian system in all that time? Anything? Re-read Craig’s other two articles on the matter and decide for yourself whether you’d want the SNP to run a prison system (or a pissup in a brewery, for that matter).

    Blaming their incompetence on a lack of money just doesn’t wash. The Norwegian experience has shown that a proper rehabilitation system is a substantial cost saver for the country as a whole because it so massively reduces the wider costs of crime to society. Quite apart from the human side of things and a sense of fairness, the financial gains to the country as a whole are immense.

    • Squeeth

      @ Ebenezer Scroggie Why would a state that has spent fifty years re-colonising the working class treat the iniquities of the prison system as a problem? It makes sense as a tactic to attack every manifestation of working class solidarity. What better way to do this than to prey on the casualties of the fascist-colonial state by profiteering off them when they are locked up?

      • Ebenezer Scroggie

        It was Scotland which colonised England in the creation of the UK, not the other way around.

        After 22 years of devolution of the Scottish prison system to the Numpties of the Leith Numptorium, I do not see any improvement in any part of it. Perhaps Craig Murray does, though I doubt it.

        Craig Murray was a political prisoner – in Scotland. Denied Justice by excluding him from a fair trial by jury, his conviction was totally political in nature.

        Seeking salvation from the awfulness of the SNumPties North Korean style ‘justice’ system by appealing to Europe was charmingly naïve, but futile.

        If it wasn’t for the remnants of the jury system in Scotland, Alex Salmond would now be rotting in Saughton or the Bar-L.

        Europe was never going to provide him any protection from that harridan’s clique of evil women. Neither Salmond nor Murray.

  • YesXorNo

    I am reminded that one way to evaluate a society is to examine how persons under the care of the state are treated.

    Perhaps by your publications with support from other organisations Scotland can improve what is obviously a horrid situation.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    Wot? Humza Yousaf is lazy and feckless? Your opinion differs from that of the American permanent state.
    In his second year as a humble Parliamentary aide, Yousaf was identified by the US State Department as a “future leader” and initiated into their International Visitors Leadership Programme.
    Regardless of the abilities of Yousaf and Brown, there’s the issue of time in office. Sturgeon is an inveterate card shuffler moving Ministers from one brief to another with dizzying rapidity.
    I assume this is primarily an indication of desperation as she tries to conceal the shortcomings of her Ministers who are chosen for their supine, personal loyalty to the Great Helmsperson.

    • Ebenezer Scroggie

      I believe that Kim Il Wossiname uses the same tactic to keep his ministers on their toes in Nork.

      Wee Nippy behaves like the head of a One Party State. A piss-pathetic state, in her hands.

      Where we went wrong when we decided to set up, or re-establish, the Pygmy Parliament was that we gave it and the Leith Numptorium far too much power.

      The other mistake was creating more than 120 MSPs while there were barely more than a dozen competent candidates in all of the parties put together, if that many. All the Parties had to scrape the bottom of the barrel of community councils and Party enthusiasts to find candidates to put up for election.

      In retrospect, it is clear that we risked creating a North Korea type situation. That has now happened.

      I don’t suppose that North Korea’s equivalent of Saughton is much better than devolved Scotland’s shameful prison system is, though their drug problem is probably a bit less awful than ours.

      Why is it that so many people under the yoke of the SNumPty government in the urban centrebelt of Scotland so desperately crave to seek an escape into the oblivion of drugs and Buckfast?

      What is it about the SPS regime which causes so much recycling of the mass of humanity which it processes in the way that it does?

  • Wobbly

    I had the misfortune to work in the prisoner rehabilitation field/industry for a short while. My position was that of deputy manager, which sounds as if I might have some influence on the institution. I was the only non-White member of staff but that created far less problems for me as being a Londoner would prove. It was in a northern county.

    However, this is not about me but about the staff and boards attitude to the ‘guests’. It was awful. Some of my colleagues were ex-screws, their term, and proud of it. Others were c.v builders, useful in their hopes for probation or criminology academic careers.

    My background began with inner city adventure playgrounds gradually moving through a variety of residential social work positions. There was a definite barrier built against me from the start. Our brochures offered the world. Jobs, training, college, voluntary experience all available in the beautiful countryside of the North of England. Fast forward and I began to realise that it was flannel. I was working in a holding pen for men who would reoffend and have their licences revoked or be arrested for any nearby crimes and then jailed and back to stir. Every ambitions the lads might have entertained were quickly destroyed. They were meant to live on pennies. Any social entertainment was beyond them. Alcohol and other addictions were supposed to be addressed by town AA or GA, NA groups.

    I did manage to get a few successes, by using the Red Cross, local Society of Friends and a very few churchmen and women, a few lads were suited and booted for successful interviews for employment and education. Friends from the DSS and Job Centre showed me various loopholes to improve their finances but these victories were few and I always flew solo. I was laughed at openly and plotted against behind my back. The management committee built a file of complaints against me. They called me the ‘Cons shop steward’. I was proud of that.

    It couldn’t last. Within the space of one week I received a verbal, written warnings followed by an order to leave the premises or the police would be called. The job came with a nice flat, I had a collie. One of my successful lads put me up till I could work out my next move. A particularly unpleasant trustee was the manager of my bank. You guessed it I was overdrawn, my cards were useless. How? I was a frugal, thrifty person. Working class people ahborr debt. Apparently I had stereos, suits etc etc. The union was toothless and the regional head was a handshaker, he was not unique in this area of work.

    I was stuffed and returned to London. There is a scene from the excellent t.v series, Red Riding. A group of corrupt cops toast each other and say “We’re from the North and we do what we like”. Yeah, can’t argue with that.

    I’m retired and happily married now and I have a lovely bungalow, 5mins from deers and we’ve got a dog and a friendly hedgehog plus three crows who visit daily. It’s in North Yorkshire. Owzat! Keep punching Mr Murray. Hope I didn’t bore you.

  • Jon Cofy

    The self professed Scottish Journalist “was finally shamed into producing” his prison memoirs “by an ex-prisoner” he ” met at the Eden Festival”

    One word sums up Craig Murray’s 3 part memoir on Scottish Prison life


    Craig was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity when Leeona Dorian sentenced him to 8 months jail for no perceivable offence

    Dorian had awarded a Scottish Nationalist with cast iron prison credentials

    Many if not most prisoners have been stiched up in some way themselves and Craig’s well publicised story immediately gifted him prison status

    It was time to stepup or run

    Zelensky infamously said
    “I need ammunition not a ride”

    Craig was given 3 choices
    a) mix it with the lads in general population
    b) mix it with police, transsexuals, goalers, lawyers, sex offenders etc in “protection”
    c) loiter in limbo with the remands, new arrivals & other miscellaneous

    Craig hid in limbo clinging to his supposed status as a civilian prisoner too high class to mix with criminals

    Understandably his memoirs are apologetic & condescending. Craig empathizes with the oppressors & absolves the political elite while struggling to accept the injustice he witnessed

    The memoirs exhibit a Stockholm syndrome feel of regret mixed with guilt & the narrative is barely honest

    It is apparent that the shock of imprisonment has scarred Mr Murray far more than he is willing to admit & that he has left a lot unsaid

    What of the lads in general population?
    They will be sent over the ramparts as usual in the next war

    • craig Post author

      Is that the John Coffey who wrote to me from New Zealand while in jail? Good to hear from you.

      Bluntly, at no stage did the idea of giving up my civilian prisoner status in order to have an experience as horrible as everybody else appeal to me.

    • glenn_nl

      GBH against a poster asking stupid, lazy questions, when they could answer it themselves by just bothering to do a very simple search.