Thursday, 1 November 2012

United Family and Friends Demonstration London 2012

United Family and Friends Demonstration London 2012

On Saturday October 27th I went to the United Family and Friends annual demonstration in London.Families gathered in Trafalgar Square and walked slowly to Downing Street with bannres of their loved ones I, with two very good friends, carried the banner of Sarah Campbell. It was heartbreaking to  remember that  Sarah,s mother, Pauline, died in 2008 after her hardfought campaign for prisons to be abolished.She was instrumental in the publication of the Corston Report. It is shameful that so few of those recommendations have been put into practice. The article in yesterday's Guardian about Newhall Prison shows how little things have changed
The most poignant moment of the day for me was when a young black boy, possibly fifteen years old,stood by Sarah's banner and asked me to tell him her story.He listened  gravely with his head bent. and when I finished he looked straight at me and said " I'm sorry."

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hiroshima Day 6th August 2012

Father George Zabelka, who was the American Catholic Chaplain to the USAF bomber crews who dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Ngasakisi said,
            "to fail to speak to the utter moral corruption of the mass destruction of civilians was to fail as a Christian and as a priest. As I seeit, Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened in and to a world  and a Christian Church that has asked for it-- that has prepared the moral consciousness of humanity to do and justify the unthinkable. I was there, and I'll tell you that the operative moral atmosphere in the Church in relation to mass bombing of enemy civilians was totally indifferent, silent, corrupt at best; at worst it was religiously supportive of these activities by blessing those who did them.I like the pilot of the Nagasaki plane, was heir to a Christianity that had for1700 years engaged in revenge, murder,torture,the pursuit of power and prerogative violence- allinthe name of the Lord. Jesus authorised none of his followersto substitute violence for love- not me, or you; not Jimmy Carter nor the Pope, nor the Vatican Council or even an ecumenical Council---Christians the world over should be taught that to love their enemies is not optional."

(see Altrenatives To War    Owen Hardwicke     page57)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Pauline Campbell

It is four years today since Pauline died. Her campaign began when her daughter Sarah was one of six women who died in the notorious prison Styal between 2002and 2003. grave concerns were expressed at that time by Prison Minister, Paul Goggins.He undertook a review of vulnerable women in the Criminal Justice System. Baroness Corston was to be responsible for this  review.It reported its findings and recommendations in March 2007.Radical changes in the treatment of women in prison were urgently needed.
I had accompanied Pauline on 5 May 2008 to a court hearing in Macclesfield where the date for a three day trial was fixed to take place in Knutsford crown court this trial was subsequently called off. Pauline sent me a copy of a report that she had put on line on 3 May2008-- Criminal Trial Abandoned As CPS Comes Under Fire Referring to the Corston Report this is what she said "Demonstrations will continue because where there is injustice there will be protest. The unjust sentencing of vulnerable women; their suffering and deaths - that is the injustice. The way forward is to implement the recommendations of the Corston report but Ministers ' feeble response (December 2007) was to say the recommendations  couldn't be funded, yet it seems money is available to build three new Titan prisons. Forty one women prisoners have died from self inflicted injuries since my daughter's death in January 2003- unless reform is introduced more women will die.""
Five years after Corston  Clive Chatterton who went to Styal as governor at the end of a thirty five year career in men's prisons wrote in the Observer as recently as February 11th 2012 that he was scarred by his experience of running Styal. Nick Hardwick , Chief Inspector of Prisons confirmed this saying he found the plight of women there more shocking and distressing than anything he had ever seen. In the Independent 1 May also 2012 he thought the state of women's jails shames Britain!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Deaths in custody

As I listened to Deborah Coles of Inquest, speaking about two more deaths of children in custody on BBC Womens Hour this morning I thought "Will things never change?"
Since 1990 thirty three children have died. It is ten years since Joseph Scholes died in Stoke Heath
Young Offenders Institution. His family is still grieving. At Joseph's inquest the coroner called for an inquiry. This morning that was one of the issues brought up by Deborah. There has never been an inquiry into the death of a child who has died in the care of state.
It is obvious from evidence given by reports and by evidence at coroners inquests that young people are being sent to dreadful places run by poorly trained staff without the right resources. It is beyond belief that in the twenty first century restraning techniques are being used by staff and causing children to die.I think that restaint is a euphamism for torture.
It would seem that nobody really cares about failing these children.Locking them away is cruel and not the aswer.