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Adam Sampson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, on Roger Graef's three-part documentary, Turning the Screws (Thu C4): 'It has shown the battle for the soul of the British prison system, revealing that both the Prison Officers Association and prison management are united in aiming to provide a better system, but have different pressures affecting them. I am a little too close to it to enjoy the programme; my feeling on watching is one of extreme frustration - the frustration that clearly dominates negotiations. It is like witnessing a marital argument between a couple you know well: cruelly fascinating but deeply upsetting.

'The images of everyday prison life are, however, much closer to reality than the two extremes - the cheerful cartoon world of Porridge and the pictures of prisoners dancing on the Strangeways roof - that we generally see, and between which we see very little. The perspective of the prisoners themselves, though, is largely missing. In a sense that reflects the problem of the system itself: the prisoners are merely the objects on a production line rather than human beings with legitimate opinions and a role to play. The realistic image is also a useful counterpoint to current hysteria about juvenile crime. It's a useful reminder of the kind of institution that people are clamouring for young offenders to be sent to.'

(Photograph omitted)

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