Perspectives section writer
In one form or another, David has been a part of the criminal justice system for nearly 40 years. He does not profess to have all of the answers, but he knows most of the problems and can provide alternative solutions. Prison staff do not, really, wear red coats!
I was recently asked to be a guest speaker on an American live radio show to talk about the collateral damage of injustice and corruption in US prisons. The show is aired from Colorado Springs, so in order to be able to talk about local issues, as I usually cover correctional facilities in Florida, I set about researching prisons in Colorado – which also led me to Louisiana – and I came across a company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) that changed their name to Core Civic in October 2016 during ongoing scrutiny of the private prison industry in the US.
(9.2.19) – What is Prison?
- Prison – noun – a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial.
- One of the Ministry of Justices’ four strategic priorities is “A prison and probation service that reforms offenders” (Ministry of Justice).
Number one is definitely the case, but what about number two? Well, based on the latest government figures in relation to self-harm, violence, and suicides, I would suggest that the Ministry of Justice is not delivering on one of its key strategic priorities.
(12.1.19) – Profit Before People
Whilst going about my daily ritual of spending hours in front of a computer screen researching in a variety of areas, one of which being the criminal justice system, I came across this piece with the headline ‘Mental health trust takes back contract for more serious conditions at Norwich prison’. It was a report in an edition of the Great Yarmouth Mercury.
I have served as a prisoner for a good number of years at HMP Norwich, and as someone who has a complex mental health history, I came into contact with the mental health team on a regular basis. I was also a trained listener and would have dealings with the team as a third party on behalf of individual prisoners.
(29.12.18) – Fill the Foundations
Immediately prior to my last period of incarceration, I had hit what I thought was rock bottom and was left with two choices: in life, things are either growing or they are dying. I cannot lie and say that my first choice was not the latter.
However, writing this piece is proof that I changed my perspective.
(15.12.18) – Rats to Riches
“Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time!”. In terms of reform and progress within our penal system, the proverb is about as much use as eating soup with a fork. For a start, how would you know?
Unfortunately, we do need prisons. Ever since Eve – reportedly – ate the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden, crime has been in existence in human narratives. Crime, either directly or indirectly, affects us all; victims of crime or the family/loved ones/friends of the victim, perpetrator of crime, or, yet again, the family/friends/loved ones of the perpetrators. You may even pay higher insurance premiums due to crime. Crime affects all, therefore, crime is the responsibility of all, especially the prison system.
(17.02.18) – From Prison to Podium
Saturday the 10th Feb 2018, a day that I will always remember. I had been invited to speak in relation to prison education and the arts. I was speaking to an audience alongside Jacob Huntley, a lecturer in English literature and creative writing from the UEA. I met Jacob whilst I was a serving prisoner at HMP Norwich. One of my roles at HMP Norwich was as an education mentor and I was told that there would be a new creative writing course starting, which would be facilitated by Jacob. I have always found that penning emotions onto a piece of paper allowed me to free my mind.