IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been remanded in custody at New York's notorious Rikers Island jail on charges of sexual assault.
This headline has generated a lot of media interest over the last few days. Crime and Punishment are back in the news again. A man in a Very Important Position has had the indignity of being placed among some of the most dangerous inmates in the US correctional system. The story raises very serious questions and once more the spotlight has been shone very brightly into the dark place known as the penal system in the United States. Obviously, the interest in Rikers Island would be nil if Mr Strauss-Kahn had not checked in, after all people are admitted onto the island complex every day, (average daily population 14,000).
Here in the UK, like many other countries, we have a fascination with jails and prison. Many documentaries are made in prisons, and dramas about prison and prisoners are shown regularly. Is this voyeurism or concern? Probably a bit of both. Over the last week, Law & Order has featured constantly in the headlines. Super-injunctions for footballers, Ken Clarke's offensive muddle on rape. Radio and TV are clambering over each other to feature prison stories. How hard is Rikers? What will it be like for this man inside? Are US facilities really that tough?
Wormwood Scrubs was the venue for this week's edition of Question Time on BBC TV, prisoners were allowed to be in the audience, (surrounded by prison officers), and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was on the panel apologising once more.
This weekend the two-part documentary, Louis Theroux: Miami Mega-Jail, is being shown again on BBC Two on Sunday 22 and 29 May at 9pm.
One person who knows more than most about life in the US correctional system is Shaun Attwood. As has been well-documented in this blog, Shaun has experienced all that the US jail and prison system could throw at him. The surprising thing is that he has emerged sane and safe. He has a lot to offer in the way of advice for anybody connected with prisons and jails, you could say he was a specialist on the subject. His expertise and knowledge are already being put to good use in schools and colleges around the UK, and he is a tireless campaigner for penal reform. What suggestions would Shaun have for Mr Strauss-Kahn to help him survive his stay on Rikers Island?