Lone vigilante and self-styled ‘Prince of Darkness’, The Devil, has today confirmed that he will consider imposing non-custodial sentences for dead sinners as an alternative to eternal damnation in Hell. The announcement follows a highly critical report by Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, which highlighted problems of overcrowding and poor conditions for those who’ve been ‘sent down’.
‘Some inmates were living with thousands of other tortured souls in close proximity to frozen rivers of blood and burning sulphur,’ states the report, ‘with many experiencing red-hot pokers being shoved in their eyes and having to do repetitive and menial tasks such as continually pushing boulders up hills, forever grasping for unreachable fruit and having to serve on a parish council.’
The Devil however defended Hell’s record, pointing out that inmate numbers had grown massively in recent years, due in part to a surge in the deaths of elderly Tory supporters, leading to problems of overcrowding. He also argued that he wasn’t keen to be branded a ‘holiday camp’ by the Daily Mail if punishments were changed to become less soul-destroying.
The report also suggested that eternal damnation may not be effective in reducing reoffending rates, an accusation that the Devil strongly refuted. ‘To be honest,’ he declared, ‘although our mission statement says that our main objective is to punish rather than rehabilitate, all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that spending eternity in Hell has on the whole been quite effective at preventing reoffending.’
The Devil did however agree in principle to the introduction of some non-custodial alternatives on a trial basis in the wake of the report. Options being considered include attending the Tory, LibDem and Labour party conferences, living in Merthyr Tydfil, and having to watch Strictly Come Dancing non-stop for an entire weekend, prompting Amnesty International to warn that care must be taken to ensure that alternative sentences aren’t in fact worse than spending eternity in Hell.
Sinners would of course have to be reincarnated in order to carry out such non-custodial sentences, a move which in itself could prove to be unpopular with the public. ‘I can’t see that reincarnating Fred West and Harold Shipman so that they can spend a few months painting community centres would go down particularly well,’ the Devil pointed out.
A final recommendation made by the report was the increased use of open Hells, whereby sinners are given day release to return to the land of the living in the form of ghosts. ‘This would however be on the strict understanding that it isn’t used as an opportunity to wind up Derek Acorah,’ stressed Dame Owers.