Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is howling into the void….
Labour MP David Lammy last week revealed the results of an independent review into the treatment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals in the criminal justice system.
One of the most shocking findings was that Muslims account for 15 per cent of Britain’s prisoners – a 50 per cent increase since ten years ago – despite being under 5 per cent of its population.
The obvious question is “why?”
Great timing, love!
Why the disproportionality? Why the rise? Well, the review already considered the answer on your mind: terrorism offences. But since only 175 convictions have taken place between 2001-2012 it perplexedly proclaimed, “we simply do not know” why Muslims are overrepresented in prison.
How about the obvious – they commit more crime?
We fall at the first hurdle if we accept, as the Lammy Review does, that the criminal justice system is set up to necessarily achieve justice. Prisons are historically part of a bigger system used by the state to control people and ignore social problems. We believe breaking the law makes someone a threat to us so we accept the idea that they should be imprisoned. However, we don’t hold all people equally accountable to all laws; for example, think about multinational tax-dodging corporations, or our relative complacency regarding the unlawful murders our country executes abroad.
Once again, the conflation of legal tax avoidance with tax evasion. And military action with illegal acts.
Prisons clearly don’t justly deal with all “criminals”. What about the use of prisons to deal with those who commit violent crimes, abuse and assault? Well, sure, prisons lock such people away, but in doing so they justify total inaction regarding actually dealing with the social problems that lead to violence.
Such ‘social problems’ as wanting to not have to work to pay for your drugs & booze, I guess?
Clearly, crime is not the sole cause of or precursor to imprisonment. Instead, prisons often work to lock up and silence the people most affected by socio-economic and political problems that maybe even lead to the practices or survival techniques we classify as “crime”.
Ah, I see. When I’m mugged, I shall console myself that the gold-toothed rat is doing it to ‘survive’…
This is pertinent to Muslims since 46 per cent of them live in the 10% most deprived local authority districts in Britain today. Such realities create inter-generational cycles where people cannot accumulate enough economic or social capital to break out of poverty. Poverty impacts access to resources, school attainment, employment chances and likelihood of involvement in crime and therefore incarceration. Throw in the fact Muslims are often ethnic minorities and consistently stereotyped as criminals and terrorists and you begin to see why they provide a perfect example of the type of population that needs imprisoning – if you didn’t you would have to deal with deeply entrenched socioeconomic inequalities and structural racism and Islamophobia in this country.
*yawns* Sorry, I drifted off for a bit there….
Ultimately, if 15 per cent of the UK’s prison population is Muslim this tells us less about anything “innate” in Muslims and more about the British state.
Yeah, it tells us they are slacking. There’s room for a lot more.