Cushy prison life: Free tobacco, ensuite showers and Playstations in cells

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PRISONERS enjoy en-suite showers and PlayStation games in their cells under a soft regime at a South Yorkshire jail - and are even rewarded by officers with contraband tobacco.

Doncaster Crown Court was told of the ‘Lindholme Syndrome’ - used to describe the comfortable life which some prisoners enjoy.

Recorder Carl Gumsley - who has demanded an inquiry - spoke of his concerns after sentencing a woman prison officer at HMP Lindholme to 18 months’ jail for misconduct in a public office.

Rachael Klein, aged 29, of Stripe Road, Rossington, had admitted a romantic affair with a killer doing time on L-wing at Lindholme.

During their affair, she sent him love letters, provided him with tobacco and money, let him make private phone calls and, most worryingly for the judge, allowed him to view the prison computer where he could read confidential files.

The prisoner, Steven Chapman, aged 27, who is serving time for manslaughter, was also given an extra 18 months for conspiracy to supply drugs.

Recorder Gumsley told Klein she had created danger for those on the outside by letting him use her prison phone and undermined the security of the prison by letting him view her computer.

“It is clear there was an air of real informality at this prison, where a prisoner could spend time closeted with Klein, having access to confidential material.”

The judge said he and the jury had raised their collective eyebrows during the trial of another inmate, Michael Fieldhouse, aged 34, who was aquitted of blackmailing Klein, when he preferred not to be released to a bail hostel because he would lose his en-suite shower and PlayStation in his cell.

The court also heard some officers, including Klein, allegedly gave pouches of tobacco to inmates who helped clean up the wing.

“I do urge the proper authorities to investigate and ascertain what was going on in this establishment and find out if these allegations are true. If they are true this regime led this officer to get involved in this disgraceful criminal mess.”

Prosecutor Carl Fitch said Klein was a senior officer when she entered into the relationship with Chapman and began passing love letters to him surreptitiously.

In them she wrote of her hopes for when he was released and what she would like to do with him.

The court was told the relationship never became a sexual one but in one of her letters Klein said ‘if her uniform consisted of a skirt she would have had sex in the prison’, said Mr Fitch.

She was eventually arrested after surveillance cameras set up in her office caught her and Chapman kissing and touching as well as viewing her computer together.

When she admitted giving him tobacco and postal orders she said other officers gave tobacco to prisoners to thank them for their co-operation.

Tim Savage, defending, said both her mother and step-father were prison governors and she had let them down.

“It was a romantic fantasy in which she was fully involved. Looking back now she can see how unrealistic it was,” he said.

After the case, Lindholme governor Robert Mullen said: “We welcome this sentence, it reflects the seriousness of the crime and sends a clear message about the consequences of attempting to bring drugs into a prison.

“Safety and security are vital to the smooth running of the prison and we continuously monitor the behaviour of prisoners and, where appropriate, staff. In addition, our security system and processes are subject to regular review and amendment to improve our performance in this area.”