In the infinite wisdom of the Dutch Justice Minister new trials are set to begin in Dutch Prisons to curb aggression of their inmates. Now I’m all for them being controlled, the only reason they are in there is through a lack of it. So what are their plans I hear you ask…food supplements. Yes you read that right. The Dutch want to trail a new idea of curbing aggression with vitamins and fish oils. There has been loads of research into the effects of food on our behavior hence our newly acquired knowledge on the role of sugar and e-numbers in hyperactivity disorders. Here is my initial take on this news story.
Initiating the use of prisoners as medical guinea pigs
Why not trial other stuff on them too – save animals and test make up on thieves, enhancement drugs on murderers and castration/contraceptive drugs on pedophiles. The internet is full of people believing this concept and it has been debated for many years too. Now I am torn on an opinion like this and risk the fact o going off on a tangent but I will continue. The argument of Human Rights crops up a lot when talking about prisoners so we can’t not mention it here. My view is that in order to end up in prison you’ve done something bad, in order to do have done something bad you have taken or compromised the human rights of another individual, why should we therefore pander to the Human Rights of criminals when they find themselves in prison. Surely by taking someone else’s rights away you forfeit your own? However on the flip side to this ‘an eye for an eye’ simply results in a lot of blind men and it doesn’t deal with the problem. (See what I mean about going a little of track!) Oh and then there’s the argument of people being sent down for crimes they didn’t commit. The Netherlands now has the Posthumus II Committee or ‘Commissie-Posthumus’ , named after Frits Posthumus, who thoroughly investigated the preliminary process of crimes, after 3 huge cases where found to have wrongly claimed the misuse of complex scientific evidence which led to miscarriages of justice. Can the Netherlands afford to take this risk and how do you define the severity of their offense in order to determine the severity of the medical testing. I fully accept that we are not talking about medical torture testing here we are talking about vitamins and supplements, and Britain is experimenting with this as well, but once the doors are open for this the flood will come and who knows what is next. Its all spirals within spirals, the devil is well and truly in the detail.
Surely its down to the food they are being given, shouldn’t that be the focus?!
We hear all the time about new diet supplements and wonder drugs they come up with to make our lives better but all in all it’s down to the quality of the food we eat. If you eat a balanced diet with vegetables and fruits there is no need for a supplements. This in turn brings me back to the human rights arguments of why should prisoners get the best quality fruit and veg when children living in poverty, who have not broken the law, don’t have access to it as easily. They should only be fed standard basic food, it isn’t a hotel with an a la carte buffet, they shouldn’t have luxuries and 3 course meals morning, noon and night, it should be basic food enough to keep them alive and well. Surely buying cabbages is cheaper than drugs/vitamins!! Hell they could even grow their own veggies!! That’s probably the best option, give them a purpose to grow and cultivate crops for the inmates and then they get to eat it. Are they already doing this? Probably! This seems like the best option surly and I doubt I’m the only one whose just had the idea!
Mind over matter
The self-fulfilling prophecy argument comes in here but in cases like this it could go either way. Telling them that they will be better=they just might regardless to the drug or placebo (see placebo effect) or by telling them what you expect they might just rebel a little more. We are talking about individuals locked up for committing crimes of (more than likely) an aggressive nature who are incarcerated for anything from 15-23hrs of the day and they don’t want them to be aggressive. Hello!
The fact remains simple: where do you put the line between caring for the prisoner whilst maintaining the fact that it is supposed to be a punishment. Prison staff have a right to work in a safe environment and prisons are supposed to be a punishment for those inside but where is the line in keeping people them safe and controlled rather than to being just as bad as them. This is not the 1940’s, torturing of prisoners is not what we do these days. I don’t have the answers but one thing I do know is that jail time is and should always be regarded as punishment not a luxury spa where you get the best food and vitamins so go on walking around feeling fantastic when there are innocent people in the world who can feel themselves an their families.