Friday, 23 November 2007

What would Elizabeth Fry do?

An inmate has failed to use human rights legislation to force a prison to charge him less for phone calls.

Richard Davison, serving 12 years for drugs offences at HMP Elmley, in Kent, wanted the High Court to back his bid.

But Mr Justice Mitting ruled Davison's right to family and private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had not been infringed.

The fact that prisoners received visits and letters demonstrated their rights were protected, said the judge.

Davison, who is not due for release from the jail until September 2009, had applied for permission to challenge a Prison Service refusal in January to attempt to renegotiate its BT contract, which runs until 2011.

Davison's lawyers had argued that the price of calling his girlfriend in Essex, or family members in Yorkshire, was unfairly higher from jail phones than from public booths.

They said prisoners currently pay 10p for the first 55 seconds of local or national calls to landlines, then 1p per every 5.5 seconds.

The cost of calls from BT public payphones is 40p for the first 20 minutes followed by 10p for each subsequent 10 minutes.

You get 20 minutes for 40p? What public payphones are these? And where can I find one? All the ones I find seem to give rather less value for money than the prison ones.

Nonetheless, my heart really does bleed for poor Mr Davison, and all his fellow criminals victims of bourgeois oppression. It is simply intolerable that he and other inmates should have to pay fully 10p per minute to use the telephone, and, being the great philanthropist that I am, I have devised a way of sparing all prisoners the great burden of the costs associated with the use of telephones: take away the phones! Do that, and never again will any prisoner have to endure the humiliating violation of their human rights that paying for their calls undoubtedly is. So take away the prisoners' payphones: their human rights demand nothing less!

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