28/11/2013 06:16 GMT | Updated 27/01/2014 05:59 GMT

In Out, In Out, Smoking All About

The smoking of marijuana cigarettes, doobies and jazz fags, is so rife in Brixton prison that an inspection team recently came out reeking of the stuff. For a brief moment, they thought about arresting themselves. Apparently, the inmates find it easier to get hold of the insane Mary Jane than their non-convicted friends on the outside. They're so high they can practically touch the sky, or at least they could if they weren't spending time in a place where they can't even see it.

It is outrageous - convicted criminals on drugs. These people should be in priso ... oh, that's right, cancel that thought.

The report from the team said that the drugs were being taken inside by inmates who had been released to mooch about among the free on day release. They said that there had been a significant failure by the prison authorities to address the problem. They can say that again. It's cloudier in there than in a Chinese smog factory. They had a dog to sniff out the miscreants but it got the munchies so bad it ate its own self.

Clearly, the guards have not heard of something called "searching", whereby you pat down the potential smuggler, and if you don't find anything you get out the Marigolds, and I don't mean for doing the washing up.

However, it might be that the guards prefer their charges to be comfortably numb. Prison officer numbers have been reduced lately by the government that likes to say "No" and it can't be one of life's cushier numbers attending to a population that is a concentrated distillation of all that is bad about humankind. If I were a guard, I'd want them in comas, handcuffed to a ring bolted into the floor.

The alternative to quiet inebriation is either home brewed alcohol, with its surprising and unpredictable effects, or no inebriation at all, which means boredom, and idle hands are the reason many of them wind up in there in the first place.

Curious problem this - the law will send someone to jail for possession of drugs, but drugs are what some officers on the thick end of the penal industry say makes the job they do easier. Not drugs for them, you understand, drugs for the inmates.

Put yourself in the position of a miscreant. I'll assume you have no trouble doing that. Now imagine life where every day is like Sunday - Sunday in November in 1974, by which I mean boring. Nothing to do all day except examine the ceiling tiles and try to guess what the dish of the day is, which probably won't be that difficult as it will always be the same bloomin' thing. Now imagine that life continuing for longer than it takes to go through school.

You may not be the reading type. Chess might not be your cup of hooch. What on earth are you going to do to while away the time that does not involve whacking your fellow inmates over the head with a snooker ball in a sports sock? For the sake of the welfare of those less able to defend themselves, and the guards who are watching them, it might be preferable to have all of the prisons smell like an Amsterdam cafe.

After all, jails do not seem to make people more agreeable. They do not tend to change a criminal into a valued member of society. If anything, they seem to further entrench anti-social behaviour in those people who go through them. The recidivism rates are terrible. Mostly, jails act as a sort of long-stay car park for the tattooed. Perhaps we should stop pretending that prison is capable of curing cons of their criminality and admit that it is just a way to allow society a temporary relief from their attentions.

Of course, the problem of drugs in society will not be solved by allowing drugs in prison, but it might make the time go more quickly for the inmates and it might make the job easier for the guards.

And if it is true that drugs are as easily available inside as a latte is on the outside, then that rather makes the "War On Drugs" even more unlikely ever to be won.

If society can not prevent people getting hold of the stuff inside a maximum security facility, then how are they ever going to arrest its supply in a nightclub?