14/05/2014

Skull Cracker's Lesson

Normally I'm one of those annoying people who would go on about how prison is about rehabilitation not punishment, because that's what benefits society. Basically I'm a bore at dinner parties, but it's hard to go on about rehabilitation when you hear about Skull Cracker.

Ah, the case of Skull Cracker. It seems counter-intuitive that a conversation in a prison would ever go like this:

1: "Should we move Skull Cracker to an open prison?"
2: "Who?"
1: "You know, Skull Cracker. The one who cracks skulls."
2: "Oh him. Yeah, go on, what's the worst that can happen?"

But policies have to be designed for everyone not just the cases where the nickname is a bit of a clue. The idea is that as a prisoner is heading towards release back into society the prison they are in should be more and more like real life. I haven't been in an open prison (it's my fault, by the sound of it I could just walk right in without being stopped if I really wanted to do the research) but I don't think they have nightmare rush-hour traffic to cope with and they certainly don't have to worry about eviction, so it's not that much like life on the outside.

Mr Cracker, aka 55-year-old Michael Wheatley, isn't a great case study for this type of rehabilitation because after a few days of not being in prison he was back in custody for allegedly holding up a building society. Maybe the open prison needs a branch of Nationwide in it to give the inmates practice at walking by it without holding it up.

Skull got 13 life sentences for armed raids on 13 banks and building societies. 13 life sentences. That's a prison term that should even strike fear into the hearts of cats, but apparently it was the third time he had gone on the run after prison authorities allowed him out on temporary release.

1: "You know that Skull Cracker?"
2: "Who?"
1: "That guy who cracks skulls?"
2: "Oh yeah. What about him?"
1: "Do you think we should let him out on temporary release?"
2: "You mean that thing we did th#e last two times he absconded?"
1: "Yeah that."
2: "Sure thing. What's the worst that could happen?"

But credit where it's due. Uncle Cracker may have absconded from prison to do a bank job but as far as we know no skulls were cracked. That's a step in the right direction, right? Rehabilitation works!

>Read the source story
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