Is It ?  Or Isn't It?


Oh, sorry.

A Man Alive Special

A perfectly ordinary suburban bungalow in a perfectly ordinary suburban street.  Or is it?  No, it's not.  What we said about it being a perfectly ordinary suburban bungalow is wrong.  For this is no perfectly ordinary suburban bungalow in no perfectly ordinary suburban street.  Far from it.  Not at all.  For this is one of Britain's brand-new, freelance private enterprise suburban prisons.

With the overcrowding in Britain's State prisons, these private enterprise jails are growing at an alarming rate.  There are 15 freelance private prisons in this street alone, including Chez Parkhurst,  Dunescapin, and  Hardlabour Villa.

But what is life like inside these bungalow bastions? Ron Kent has been an inmate at Chez Ethel for 8 years.

"It's a smashing prison. I can't speak too highly of it. You get plenty of exercise, good chance of remission, and lots of cake."


"Oh yes, walnut cake, chocolate cake, cherry cake; it's the best prison in the world for cake. It's better than missus Harris' prison next door. She's brought back hanging."

The dreaded Mrs. Harris is the governor
of one of the toughest suburban prisons,

Here is the dreaded Punishment Shed
where miscreants are forced
to clean the lawnmower.

Here is the Maximum Security Kitchen where long-term, high-security-risk prisoners are forced to wash up.

She makes us polish this place EVERY DAY!

But it's the hangings that have made Mrs. Harris so unpopular in the private prison world. The official executioner, Mr. Harris, refused to answer our questions, saying the hangings were purely an internal matter of prison discipline, and that so far, no one who had been hanged had complained.

But the inmates themselves are far from happy.

"Yeah!  She hangs you for things like
bad language!  I mean... blimey!"

"I mean, dear dear!"

"I will not tolerate bad language.  I'd rather hang my boys than let them use rude words."

Mrs. Harris may be tough, but she keeps her prisoners clean. They each have their own tooth mugs,

and she makes sure they wash regularly behind their ears.

The daily routine starts off with compulsory
reading of the Daily Telegraph
and ends with "exercise time."

It's all right as far as maximum security bungalows go, but I wish I was at Mrs. Fletcher's.
She had Johnny Cash come and sing!"

I hear the teacups rattle, hear the mighty Hoover roar,
I'm always washin' dishes, and polishin' the floor
I'm stuck in Missus Fletcher's doin' time
yeah I'm stuck in Missus Fletcher's!! for a while...

Johnny Cash song on RealAudio

Is this a good solution to prison overcrowding, or not?  Or is it?  Or perhaps it isn't. Who knows.  Or perhaps they do.  Or not.

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