A stand-up comedy course for maximum security prisoners was branded “totally unacceptable” by the justice secretary, Jack Straw. The minister forced managers at Whitemoor prison to cancel the lessons immediately because funding them with taxpayers’ money could not be justified.
According to the Sun, course candidates included the al-Qaida terrorist Zia Ul Haq, who had plotted bomb attacks on London.
Straw said: “Prisons should be places of punishment and reform, and providing educational, training and constructive pursuits is an essential part of this. But the types of courses available – and the manner in which they are delivered – must be appropriate in every prison…”
Most inmates in UK prisons have access to educational courses. Many of these are designed to help inmates return to employment when they leave prison.
Comedy classes, which organisers say foster team work and communication skills, have been available since 1998.
Since 1998? So, no one noticed.
Does this mean officials in Britain don’t ever get out to comedy clubs? Or – more likely – none of the course graduates ever made anyone other than their cellmates larf?