It must be horrible to be in prison. The Norwegian ones – where the repentant murderer plays his guitar, cooks his own meals and has a terrace to his room notwithstanding. We should also excise the Dutch ones which are closing down, through a general lack of prisoners to fill them. The American ones – which we have seen often enough on the TV or in films – are more like it: usually with Morgan Freeman or that Tom Cruise fellow banged up for life. Nasty guards, murders and people pumping iron.
Spain is a bit different. Firstly, not everyone that might be expected to end up in prison, ends up in prison. Politicians, bankers and those connected to the best families for example. Here, we read of ‘those who steal a ham’; those who write something improper on Facebook or Twitter; and of ‘political prisoners’, which means ‘politicians from either failed parties (the GIL or the PA for instance) or otherwise seditionists from Catalonia’. We see demonstrations concerning Basque prisoners, terrorists and political, being sent to serve time in the other end of the country – to the evident confusion of their families.
Still, ‘if you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime’. Right?
Spanish prisons are in the news this week, firstly – it’s an anecdotal story rising from the ugly subject of rape – a mother has now been allowed to spend her days at home after four years incarceration. She had revenged herself on her daughter’s rapist by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. Evidently, he died in some discomfort shortly afterwards. A case now going through the court in Pamplona sees five fellows who allegedly raped a girl in the fiestas there this summer. Jail-time? Maybe – one of them has influence.
But, returning to politics. One of the two ‘Jordis’ – Jordi Sànchez, the first to be arrested for treason in the ongoing Catalonia story – was witness this week to a prisoner knifing another during a Mass in his prison. That should take the smile off his face.
From Brussels, where the lively question of what an earth to do with Puigdemont and his fellow ‘ex’-ministers, comes a query about Spanish prisons. Are they alright? Would he be fed properly? The Spanish prison service has obligingly sent a photograph of his future cell back to the Belgians.
As to whether Spain can hold foreign political prisoners (in the improbable event of the Republic of Catalonia being recognised internationally following some change of heart), we will have to joyously return to the safer world of fantasy.
(Thursday's editorial for Business over Tapas).