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18/12/2017
BBC Radio 4

    Feedback: Programmes featuring Prisons

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    It is becoming pretty clear that the late Jimmy Savile was very lucky not to spend his last years in prison.

    If he had, how should he have been treated by a radio reporter?

    With understanding or with condemnation or neutrally?

    In Feedback this week we talked to the producers of two different radio programmes about prison.

    "Dying Inside", presented and co-produced by Rex Bloomstein, examined the increasing number of older prisoners, many of whom are unlikely to see the outside world again.

    In a second series , "The Bishop and the Prisoner", produced by Rosie Dawson, James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who believes everyone can be redeemed, had his beliefs put to the test.

    Both producers claim that we must know and understand what is happening inside. To understand is not to condone, but it often makes easy condemnation more difficult. Most of us wish to turn away from the unpleasant, however necessary it might be. Are we cowards to do so?

    If we eat meat, must we be prepared to visit the abattoir and the factory farm, if not in person then via television or radio?

    A more extreme argument was sometimes advanced against capital punishment. If you weren't prepared to carry it out in person, you should not ask someone else to do it for you. A variation of that argument applies to the military today. If we aren't prepared to kill in extreme circumstances, how can we ask young men and women to do it for us? Looking back on the post war political debate is seems to me that prison is one of those subjects where calm informed debate is most difficult. I would argue that the Troubles, the Cold War, and Education fall into the same difficult category.

    I hope you feel that our Feedback discussion did let a little light in.

    Fortunately there is more to Feedback this week than prison and Jimmy Savile. For those who enjoyed the Chicken Forecast we have a new contribution to the genre.

    Here is the Fishing forecast.

    Do please keep them coming

    Roger Bolton

    PS For the record, I am too young to have done national service and fired a gun in anger, I have visited prison, I have commissioned programmes on factory farming and almost vomited in the cutting room as I looked at the rushes, and I did have a holiday job working in a bacon factory, counting the live pigs that went in one end, and the bacon and bone meal that came out the other. I'm afraid that last experience only put me off bacon for two weeks.

    Roger Bolton presents Feedback on Radio 4.

    • Listen to this week's Feedback
    • Listen again to this week's Feedback, get in touch with the programme, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
    • Read all of Roger's Feedback blog posts.

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