Sunday, 30 August 2009

Hiroshima day

Four of us decided to have a stall at the Cross in Chester on 6th August in remembrance of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima1945. We gave out prepared leaflets and invited passers by to sign the CND petition asking the government to agree to a Convention in 2020 and to ensure the cancellation of all preparations to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system. We collected over 87 signatures and what was so important the interest shown was supportive and informed.
Meanwhile on 17th August five activists from the Trident Ploughshares Coulport disarmament camp entered the most important military site in Britain, the nuclear submarine base at Faslane also near Glasgow, by simply walking through the main gate.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

YOI Report

Yet another damning report on our prison system fro Anne Owers ,Chief Inspector of Prisons. And this time on a newly opened young offenders prison for 15 -18 yr old boys, Cookham Wood Kent.
She found boys hiding in their cells. She found a seriously unsafe and poorly controlled environment with tense relations between boys and staff. Force was being used and more than a third had been physically restrained. The residential units were claustrophobic.Imagine teenagers confined in such conditions. She called for a cap on the numbers of youngsters being held there until a level of safety can be guaranteed.

Pauline Campbell campaigned vigorously on the lack of safety in women's prisons and one year after her death we are confronted with this horrific situation in a boys prison.

Phil Wheatley,director general of the National Offender Management Service says that things are better since the inspection and they will keep the levels of numbers under strict review before any increase I am struggling hard to believe that things will truly improve.

Prison is not the answer

In December 2007 I wrote to the Joint Youth Justice Unit deploring the fact that young people are sent into custody. The last paragraph of the letter I got back reads: "courts must retain the power to decide in individual cases what sentence is appropriate in the light of all the circumstances of the offence and the offender"

On 23rd. June, 2009 I read in the newspapers that an urgent review is to be launched into the injuries of ten children at Castington YOI following restraint by the staff. How can the courts ever think that sentencing a child to a two year period of pain and violence is appropriate? Any parent who restrained a child in such a manner as to break bones would be in serious trouble.

Why then does the State, having assumed the responsibility of the parents, give prison officers the tacit permission to use violence - indeed trains them in restraining techniques?

Phil Wheatley, director general of the National Offender Management Service has accepted and recommended Dame Anne Ower's (Chief Inspector of Prison's) call for an independent inquiry.

It is outrageous that yet again Wheately sees fit to use the mantra "so that lessons can be learned". When, I ask, will that happen?