Report by Pauline Campbell
Prison-death demonstration – Tuesday 1 May 2007
to protest against the death of Kerry Kindra Louise Devereux, aged 32
who died on 18 April 2007 while in the care of HMP Foston Hall
A small group of protesters held a three and a half hour demonstration outside Foston Hall Prison to protest against the tragic death of mother-of-two Kerry Devereux, aged 32, the third woman prisoner to die this year.
Protesters, including a representative from ‘No More Prison’ campaign group, travelled from Yorkshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire, to attend the demonstration – the 22nd to be held since protests began in 2004.
Ms Devereux was on ‘suicide watch’, and located on the segregation (punishment) block when she died.
No prison vans entered or left the jail during the demonstration.
Police officers attended the prison during the afternoon. No arrests were made.
Head of Operations, Ms Jo Broadbent, emerged from the prison and spoke briefly to Pauline Campbell, but refused to take a letter for the Governor. The letter will, therefore, be mailed to HMP Foston Hall; it merely asked if the Governor would speak to protesters, and enclosed an INQUEST leaflet with a request that it be passed to Ms Devereux’s next-of-kin.
Details of the demonstration were sent to Mark Todd, Labour MP for South Derbyshire, but he didn’t attend the protest.
A male prison officer, who was leaving the jail by car, stopped and spoke to Pauline Campbell, and said he had just been suspended for “making racist comments”.
Local reporters and photographers attended the demonstration, which was also covered by local radio (RAM Derby 102.8 FM).
Before leaving, protesters left bouquets of flowers outside the jail in memory of Kerry Devereux.
“In 2003, following my daughter’s death, I repeatedly called for an independent public inquiry, but to no avail.
“Two years later, at the Fawcett Society’s press conference in London, March 2005 (one year review of Fawcett’s Commission on Women and the Criminal Justice System), I asked the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke if he would consider holding an independent public inquiry into the deaths of women prisoners; he replied: “I will very seriously consider that”. On 17 November 2005, I received a letter (undated) from Home Office Minister Baroness Patricia Scotland informing me that Government had rejected this in favour of conducting a review:
“Following the review, Baroness Jean Corston’s report (The Corston Report) was published on 13 March 2007, calling for women’s prisons to be closed down and replaced with a local network of small custodial units reserved only for those who are a danger to the public. The Home Office response to the Corston Report has been a ‘low-key welcome’
“It is four years since I asked for an independent public inquiry, and since my daughter’s death [January 2003] a further thirty-six women prisoners have died. The Corston Report deserves an urgent response from Government, if further deaths, such as Kerry Devereux’s, are to be prevented. A ‘low-key welcome’ is not good enough.”
My criminal trial
– currently listed for 26 and 27 July 2007, North Avon Magistrates’ Court [though it seems increasingly likely the dates will have to be changed].
[Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the so-called care of HMP & YOI Styal, 2003]
Trustee of The Howard League for Penal Reform.
Awarded The 2005 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize.