An article has appeared on the BBC News site: Prisons fail to ‘learn lessons’
Pauline Campbell demonstrates every time a woman dies in a British prison. She has been arrested on numerous occasions and is frequently intimidated by either the police or prison van drivers (now usually in private hands with low paid staff) or both. The recent demonstration at Holloway is well recorded where Pauline and another bereaved mother, Gwen Calvert are shown being manhandled by a burly police officer. Pauline is thrown to the ground.
Pauline has spoken to people at high levels in government and is recognised by leading organisations. They recognise her courage and tenacity. Yet the treatment she gets on demonstrations and in court has to be seen to be believed.
Fortunately Pauline is in the habit of documenting not only the deaths, but the subsequent demonstration to draw attention to them and the consequences of doing this.
There has been some hand wringing as a result but little of consequence appears to be happening. There are two deaths in custody of which I have personal knowledge through contact with bereaved families: Mikey Powell and Sheena Kotecha. Neither have been explained, and although in the case of Mikey Powell there was an extremely long, no doubt costly, police investigation, no one is shown to have been responsible.
I have heard that when the Government announced that prisoners were to be set free early from their prison sentence there was a crisi at Winson Green prison in Birmingham. You see so many of those due for release needed mental health care which wasn’t available for them in the community. This begs the question whether their stay in prison benefitted them in this respect.
Pauline needs and deserves support. The new regime in government is attempting to show a difference to what has gone before so they could easily say loudly that Pauline is acting on behalf of vulnerable members of the community that New Labour claims to champion. Beneath the surface and continuing spin I suspect there will be little difference.
Stop taking Pauline to court for her care for truth and justice, deal with those who have assaulted her and her supporters and do something about the unacceptable number of people in prison, many of whom need urgent health care, and yes return prisons and prison services to the public sector and exercise control over those who are supposed to be running the “service”.