Originally Posted by Polwart
Sorry for being picky but - only 24,421 people voted for Tony Blair at the last election. They all live in the Sedgefield Constituency. They appointed him an MP, but as far as I am aware no one actually voted him as Prime Minister. The queen appoints him on the basis that he is the person most likely to command the support of a parliamentary majority.
I love to see a clever b*st*rd in action! Nice one matey!!
Couple of points on this - one of Codder's better "rage against the system" posts.
We incarcerate more people than just about any Western European county - even Turkey (and they're considered a bad lot). That said much of our treatment of inmates is "institutionally" unpleasant due to the historical legacy of British prisons, but not "deliberately" so. The major weakness we have, and the greatest point of difference between us and more enlightened systems, is that we have never (politically) been able to make the move from retribution to rehabilitation. This is largely down to the positive political regard given to any jumped up prat of a politician (you know who they are) who gives it large on the young offender drug dealing yardie shoplifting granny basher, and gets elected as a result. Problem is that the institutionalisation of said young offender drug etc. in no way dissuades him or her from reoffending. Studies in NI showed a strong correlation between increased severity of sentence and a reduced interval of reoffending - basically send a person into a hard prison for six months and they'll be at it again as soon as they come out, yet do more to prevent reoffending (psychotherapy, occupational training, cognitive behavioural therapy etc.) and the reoffending interval increases. Hard time is (a) not as hard as it sounds, but (b) is sufficient to confirm (in the individual's eyes) their status as a criminal whilst affording plenty of opportunities to develop interesting skills and attitudes from the rest of the prison population - a kind of University of Crime.
So, briefly, we have a prison system which is not sufficiently unpleasant to significantly deter reoffenders (retributative) neither is it tailored to address issues around preventing future offending (rehabilitative). The prison system does work well as a political football however, and we can rest assured that prison populations will continue to rise so long as there is some gain to be had from speaking loudly about it in the House of Commons.
Second point regards PTSD. This was only recently recognised as a true psychological condition, and it's diagnosis depends upon the individual meeting several strict criteria. That said, some interesting research pointed out that different people experiencing the same event will react diffferently.
There are some very telling attributes of personality that can, when the individual is exposed to a life threatening event, predicate an adverse reaction leading to PTSD; similarly there are also attributes that mean an individual will be largely devoid of abreaction. The most obvious attribute that protects an individual from a severe reaction is a hign scoring in psychopathy - so your basic serial killer will have little or no lasting psychological effects following the witnessing of a brutal murder for example.
This is one reason why lots of SAS blokes are, clinically, psychopaths and love their work while loads of coppers and squaddies (who are not) lose the plot following exposure to graphically gruesome deaths.