In prison and you visited me …


‘It’s a biblical imperative,’ I said.  ‘That’s why churches care about prisons.’  The person to whom I had addressed such a random remark clearly decided that I had been captured by aliens

Still – I thought it was important to agree to attend the Prisoners’ Week Question Time in Glasgow this evening.  Two things always strike me about prisons.  The first is the extent to which one is unaware of them.  I had been living in Perth for a while before I realised that there is a simply enormous prison very close to the centre.  And the second is the remarkable humanity of the people who work in the prison service and in the organisations which are involved with prisoners and their families.

In an earlier life, I was a member of a Board of Visitors and found it a dispiriting experience.  I was glad to leave but retained an interest in the whole area.

So here are some scary thoughts from this evening’s discussion:

50% of families who visit a prisoner will travel between 5 and 12 hours to have a 30 minute visit

More children in Scotland will have a parent sent to prison this year than will have their parents divorce

The US spends more on prisons than on education

The Brompton Folding Bicycle and I are practising for next month’s ‘The Wave’ Climate Change Walk in Glasgow.  So we whizzed back up Buchanan Street as the workers were putting up the lights – straight onto the platform – to post a record time of 90 minutes back to Blogstead.

In Prison

I’m tempted by the story of Steve McClaren. I have no interest in football but, after a lifetime around churches, I know the smell of death and decline when I meet it. And the FA Board are right there. Thank goodness for £2m pay-off’s I say. I’ll come back to it because I am fascinated by the way in which the mindset of decline – like sectarianism in Ireland – gets a grip without people realising that it has happened. And it is difficult to turn around.  An imprisonment.

Prisons Week this week and I preached at the local service in Perth .. which happens to have a prison with more than 600 in it. I doubt if I could cope with Prison Chaplaincy but all the issues are there.