Prisoners Should Work In Chain Gangs, Says British Tory MP

Andrew Percy, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Brigg and Goole, in the north east of England, has suggested that prisoners should work in chain gangs to clear litter on the side of major highways.

Percy made the suggestion after becoming concerned about rubbish mounting up by motorways in his constituency, including hundreds of bottles of urine thrown away by lorry drivers.

From The Daily Telegraph:

“In the US I have seen chain gangs out clearing highways – why can’t we do that here?” he said. “We have criminals expected to pay back – why not get them out there doing something of use?”

I’m wondering how and when Mr. Percy has seen chain gangs in the US, since they were phased out years ago in most states, with the exception of Arizona, where in Maricopa County the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs in 1995. Have you ever visited Arizona, Mr. Percy?

The Tory MP has written to the Highways Agency to complain about growing piles of litter on the M62 and A63 in East Yorkshire following complaints from his constituents.

More wonderful Percy quotes from The Daily Telegraph:

“We need a British equivalent of the US chain gang,” he said. “The only risk we have in this country is there are too many do-gooders claiming it’s against [prisoners’] human rights.

“We don’t necessarily need them to be wearing orange jump suits and chained together, but what we should be looking at is we’ve got all these people sat in prison who could be working in the community.”

It’s true that litter is a problem on England’s motorways, but can this Tory MP find nothing better to complain about?

How about addressing the millions of people on the dole, with no prospect of work, the hundreds of thousands of citizens worried to death whether they can keep paying their mortgages, and the unemployed standing in queues for food handouts?

By contrast, Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary and also a Conservative, is a supporter of short “community sentences” where people work in their neighbourhoods rather than go to prison.

Clarke has also unveiled plans to get prisoners to work for private companies within jails in the hope of instilling a culture of “purposeful hard work”. The minister has promised to double the number of inmates working up to 40 hours per week because they are a “wasted resource”.

I’d also like to point out to Mr. Percy that the US has such a good working prison system that the country has over a quarter of all of the world’s prisoners in their prisons. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to copy this system? Remember too that the penal system in the US teaches people that killing people is wrong by killing people.

Maybe Andrew Percy should first try clearing the rubbish littering the fast lane of the M62 himself.

Related Stories

Racial Profiling Lawsuit Moves Forward Against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Prison Officials Isolate Enviro-Activist Tim de Christopher

Solar-Powered Prisons To Save California $300k A Year

Photo Credit: missbeanie

124 comments

Harshiita Sharma
Harshita Sharma4 years ago

I dont think thats a very good idea

Jennifer P.
Jennifer P4 years ago

I have seen prison crews working to pick up litter alongside highways. No one is chained up, but the workers were certainly in distinctive clothing, and there were numerous guards and whatnot in the area. These were, I'm assuming, lower risk criminals (no one on death row gets litter duty, I'm sure) like hackers and bankers. If litter is a problem, and there are no community beautification volunteers that come forward, certainly the taxpayer dollars (in the US or UK) used to care for these inmates can be compensated for with community services like litter patrol.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton4 years ago

They should be made to work for their keep, why should the already over burdened tax payer pay for their life of leisure?!

Virginia Sheehy
Virginia Sheehy4 years ago

I don't know who you are or what your work is Judy Molland but I do know that you should come over to UK and experience all the comments you have made. The MP is quite RIGHT - these prisoners need to pay back the community for their wrongdoing and I don't care about their human rights - they didn't care about the human rights of the people they stole from,raped,mugged,murdered,dealt illegal drugs. These prisoners have 3 meals a day,even allowed to have specialist meals if they don't eat the norm. Have a warm cell,a bed,blankets,play snooker, watch SkyTV,don't pay any council tax,indeed have more privileges than a whole lot of homeless people on the street. Picking up litter shouldn't hurt their little handypandys too much. They have probably thrown the litter on the motorways and streets of UK anyway. Just keep watch on your own patch Miss/Mrs Molland and let our MP's make sensible suggestions such as this one. Unfortunately it won't happen as of course we are joined at the hip to the dreaded European Court of Human Rights ! Or should I say dictated to by Brussels.

Bela Z.
Bela Z.4 years ago

It depends what you mean by "chain gangs". We do still have them all over the USA, just with no chains. Chains are considered inhumane. Crews of prisoners are sent out with a couple of armed guards to supervise, but no chains, to maintain roadsides and parks all over the USA. It's the least they can do to repay society and earn their room and board.

Barbara V.
Barbara V4 years ago

That's exactly what they should do. Of what use are they sitting in their cells looking at TV all day and having their meals handed to them, let alone free medical care and no taxes to pay? They can just bloody well get out there and do something useful with their time.

Shirley M.
Shirley M.4 years ago

The most demeaning thing I have ever had to do is apply for unemployment benefits. I left a $40,000 a year job in Sydney to return to my family in Western Australia after my marriage failed. I had never been unemployed in my life, but I'd re-entered the workforce in WA at a time of deep recession. For months I tried to find work from every agency in the city. I had all the qualifications, but was politely told I was 'over qualified'; a euphemism for 'too old'; I was 52 at the time. Finally, my savings ran out and I had to join the 'dole' queue. I would have been only too happy to do a few hours community work a week to earn my keep. If you divide the weekly welfare payment by the hourly minimum rate, you get the number of hours per week you can work without falling into the 'slave labour' category. Easy. Subtract the number of hours necessary to seek work, or retrain, and once again, the civil rights people cannot shout unfair, and the general public cannot shout 'bludgers'! The same applies to prison populations; I believe they already work within the prison systems, so I don't know what this MP is going on about. If not, then instigate the system without resorting to chain gangs!

Berny P.
Berny p4 years ago

I think we Should make the prisoners work .

Why should I be busting my ass while the guy who broke into my car (example) is sitting somewhere with free food, free cable, free medical care.

I think that not only should they have to work for their room and board but to repay the victims of their crimes. And privatized prisons are a no go with me. BTW .

They should not be making money off things like this.

BELA B.
BELA BARTIS4 years ago

Well they should work, and believe it many of them would be happy to do it. They should work hard to lean work habits and pay for their care.

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance4 years ago

I've heard tell in some areas that welfare recipients will have to engage in this type of work in order to get their welfare cheques.

I'm not so fussy on criminals doing it unless they are model citizens in the penal system and nearing the end of their sentence --- make it less likely to walk away.

A better idea might be to have politicians out there doing useful work instead of screwing up the country.