Could blow-up dolls help curb prison violence?
IMAGINE the scenario: A gathering of incarcerated men with crimes ranging from murder to domestic violence all waiting expectantly on their next mail delivery.
This time they're not waiting on a letter from a loved one or even a collection of photos for their walls. They're waiting for their blow-up doll.
Sound like a ridiculous thought? Well it may not be if one UK inmate has his way.
Jack Swarez, 48, is currently serving a 17-year sentence for drug dealing in HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire. He believes that sex dolls could help improve inmate behaviour by providing pent-up men with a release for their passion.
Swarez came up with the idea of providing sex dolls to prisoners after watching Sex Toy Secrets, a show about grown men living with rubber, blow-up dolls. He then wrote a letter to Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees, asking for his idea to be given consideration.
Referring to the fact that European countries do not allow conjugal visits, Swarez proposed that blow-up dolls may provide the answer.
"I have a proposal that should be given careful consideration. It might help to alleviate this ongoing problem and, in turn, help to de-stress the wings of every establishment the length and breadth of our nation," he wrote.
Swarez explains there are companies who manufacture these dolls to specific requirements, so prisoners could order a doll tailor made to look just like their partners. (Apparently, this will save them earache from their other halves!)
"Inmates could spend their bang-up time together with their rubberised partner. They could enjoy date nights, watch the soaps together, listen to music - everything that you would normally do with your partner," he writes.
COULD HE BE ONTO SOMETHING?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of prisoners in adult corrective services custody increased by 8 per cent from 36,134 prisoners at June 30, 2015 to 38,845 12 months later.
With this rising number, it's possible that strategies may need to be adopted to help encourage good behaviour and curb a potential growth in violence.
In some state prisons, incentive schemes have previously been discussed.
In 2012, Brisbane's Wolston prison experienced a 38 per cent rise in violence between January and October of that year. In response, their new violence prevention co-ordinator outlined a plan to reduce this by reviewing privileges for prisoners with good behaviour.
Suggestions included: bonding visits, preschool photos, homework and evening meal visits, baby interaction/massage and mum's coffee morning, birthday cake and phone calls.
However, there were certainly no suggestions of blow-up dolls.
But could this idea really have legs? Could a sexual incentive help men to curb their frustrations and tame their bad behaviour?
Marcelo Rodriguez is a forensic psychologist. He says that naturally men do get sexually frustrated in prison. However, he notes that it's important to consider this issue globally, looking at what happens in society when a male is sexually frustrated
"Some men will have high levels of testosterone circulating in their system and are likely to be more aggressive. However, sexual frustration could be a contributing factor to aggression but it is unlikely to be the only factor," he says.
"From what we know about the research on violence, the behavioural manifestations are complex. The result, violence, is an interplay between genetics, biology, and conditioning, coupled with a set of circumstances, including substance use, for example."
Consequently, Dr Rodriguez doesn't believe that blow-up dolls are the answer.
"The problem with introducing blow-up dolls, is that society will likely be up in arms and appalled by it. It is likely that they will say "well today it's a sex doll and when that doesn't work, what next?".
"I'm sceptical that they could reduce violence. They may initially, due to curiosity, but habituation will likely deal in a resumption of aggression because of the reasons stated before."