CONSEQUENCE OF CONSCIENCE

prison jail 1

by David Breakspear

CW: mentions suicide

Recently appointed Home Secretary Priti Patel stated in an interview that she wants criminals to “literally feel terror” at the thought of committing crime. In my opinion, to make a statement like that shows how far removed from reality some of our politicians are.

In America, a lot of the States still use the death penalty. I would say that is the ultimate consequential terror for anyone to face. In the UK, the final execution took place as recent as 1964; in fact, the death penalty in the UK was only, totally completely abolished in 1998.

If the sceptre of losing one’s own life is not enough of a consequence to stop breaking the  law, then what is the Home Secretary’s version of ‘terror’?Continue Reading

TRANSPARENT REFORM

prison wall tower reform

by David Breakspear

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
N. Mandela

A message I have carried whilst campaigning for reforms in our prison system has been one of making the walls of justice invisible. The walls that ensconce societies; mums, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, other family members and loved ones and/or friends.

As someone that became, somewhat, institutionalised to the safety and comfort of prison, I saw those walls as keeping people out. I also saw this as a good thing. How ironic then, that here I am now, writing an article promoting transparency to those very same walls that were my protectors.Continue Reading

TOGETHER WE CAN

derek bentley uk justice

by David Breakspear

It wasn’t until February 2016 when the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, in a criminal case under the doctrine of ‘joint enterprise’ (JE), decided that intent and not just foresight would need to be proven to find a secondary suspect guilty of a crime, such as murder.

One of the most famous JE cases saw, at 9am on January 28th, 1953, 19-year-old Derek Bentley hung, at the hands of Albert Pierrepoint at HMP Wandsworth in London. Before I continue, please bear in mind that the person who “let him have it,” the one who pulled the trigger that killed the policeman Sidney Miles, Christopher Craig, was released in May 1963. Ten years after Derek was hung. Three years before Derek’s remains were removed from the prison burial ground to a family grave. Two lives were taken, one by Christopher, one by the state. Continue Reading

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

By David Breakspear

“Freire’s central notion is that ‘hope’, as an idea, ‘is rooted in [our] incompleteness’ and that what makes us human is the ‘constant search’ to become more fulfilled. This is something we pursue collaboratively, and in communion with others.” (Smyth, J., Critical Pedagogy for Social Justice, 2011)

The question I ask, ‘Where do you stand?’, is in relation to our prison system. I could ask instead: “Does your perspective and belief of prison match the experience of those it holds?”Continue Reading

FILL THE FOUNDATIONS

1

by David Breakspear

CW: suicide

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.Continue Reading

RATS TO RICHES

by David Breakspear

CW: suicide

“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.Continue Reading

FROM PRISON TO PODIUM

by David Breakspear

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.Continue Reading