Stand-up comedy course as prisoner rehab? WTF?

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?

4 thoughts on “Stand-up comedy course as prisoner rehab? WTF?

  1. K B says:

    In general, I favor creative learning for prisoners (as opposed to teaching them to make bags for the post office). I’d want to know more about who these “maximum security prisoners” are, however, before I signed off on comedy routines for them.

    I’ve played chess against state prisoners [U.S.] at rated events more than once, and always felt that it was a great thing. There was always a certain amusing quality to the guard standing at the tournament door, and I could never quite figure out why it was amusing. I suppose it was because that, as a chess player, I knew that the one time the state did not need to worry about their prisoner fleeing was in the midst of a tense middle game. Bear in mind, these were fairly accomplished players, not novices who learned the moves to get a day free from their jail cell. They had a passion for the game.

    I do understand taxpayer resentment over funding education for the incarcerated. Understanding it doesn’t mean that I agree, of course.

  2. jeff says:

    As a comedy teacher I think we need more humor not less. A good sense of humor helps you deal with stress and anger. Hey, Make Jokes Not War! There’s a slogan for you.

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