A leaked internal review paints a disturbing portrait of life at Whitemoor Prison, a high-security jail in Cambridgeshire, England. The report details an "ongoing theme of fear" among staff members, who believe that radicalized Muslim inmates are taking control of the facility and that a "serious incident is imminent."
How did prison officials allow the situation to get out of hand? Political correctness:
"Staff appeared reluctant to challenge inappropriate behavior, in particular among BME [black and ethnic minority] prisoners for fear of doing the wrong thing," the report states. "This was leading to a general feeling of a lack of control and shifting the power dynamic towards prisoners."
Such timidity compounds the already difficult problem of Islamic extremism behind bars. As documented by a short film in the PBS series America at a Crossroads, incarceration has brought many to Islam, particularly its more violent strains. A thwarted terrorist plot targeting sites in Los Angeles was hatched at a California state prison, and British shoe bomber Richard Reid converted while serving time. Interestingly, the Telegraph notes that another shoe bomber, Saajid Badat, is housed at Whitemoor.
Is Britain's Prison Service worried about jihadists like Badat radicalizing fellow inmates? Yes. But the review exhibits just as much concern that staffers might commit thought crimes when dealing with Islamists in their charge:
It claims: "There was much talk around the establishment about 'the Muslims.' … The situation has become so acute that white prisoners are routinely warned about the Muslim gangs by staff on arrival."
The report says that apprehension about Muslim prisoners has potentially damaging consequences and is in danger of "leading to hostility and Islamophobia."
The Ministry of Justice offers a multicultural solution that borders on self-parody:
A program of work is planned at Whitemoor to increase mutual understanding between staff and prisoners, including a development day for staff on the Muslim faith, focus groups in which staff and ethnic minority prisoners will discuss prison community issues, and diversity events.
Political correctness has exacerbated Whitemoor's tensions, but officials insist that even more political correctness will alleviate them. As Einstein once said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."