Our latest eBulletin, sent out to those on our mailing list on Friday, 10 June. Sign-up for our free eBulletins here.
Should those who work in, with and around prisons, or who campaign for prison reform, support the right of prisoners to escape?
This week, an escaped prisoner appeared on an episode of the Birmingham-based podcast, The Chop Shop.
"I'm not hiding from nobody, my name's Greggor Grey" he said. He went on to say that he had absconded from HMP Sudbury, an open prison, in mid-May because of the "injustice and heartache" he had endured, saying that he cried himself to sleep every night.
According to reports, he was initially given a prison sentence of four years, for robbery offences. Seventeen years on, he remained languishing in prison because of the sentence he had received: the unjust Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence; a life-sentence in all but name.
IPPs, introduced by the last Labour government, were judged to be so unjust that they were scrapped in 2012. But not retrospectively. Hence, prisoners like Greggor Grey remain stuck in an Orwellian nightmare.
The IPP sentence is currently the subject of an ongoing inquiry by the House of Commons Justice Committee, upon which much hope is currently resting among IPP prisoners, their familes and friends. We have been following the inquiry closely and are currently finalising a report on the psychological impact of the IPP sentence.
We have also been working closely with those active in the campaign against the IPP sentence. Two of the most active campaigners – Shirley Debono and Donna Mooney – joined me on the February edition of our Lunch with... series. You can watch the discussion here.
There will be many queuing up to criticise Greggor Grey; to point out that a return to prison, and quite possibly a number more years behind bars, is the only likely outcome. But when a system is so unjust, as the IPP sentence is, resistance through escape is an entirely reasonable and rational response.
I hope that when the authorities finally catch up with him – and there are reports that he plans to turn himself in – he will be treated with compassion and understanding, and that every possible step is taken to release, as quickly as possible, him from his current torment.
You can watch Greggor Grey's appearance on The Chop House podcast, and make up your own mind, here.
On Wednesday 22 June we'll be having Lunch with Khatuna Tsintsadze, co-director of the Zahid Mubarek Trust.
We'll be discussing Khatuna's previous work with a national human rights organisation in Georgia and her international human rights work with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Council of Europe and the European Commission.
We will also be discussing Khatuna's more recent work with the Zahid Mubarek Trust and the challenges involved in pressing for systemic change.
Book you place here: www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/event/2022-06-22/lunch-withkhatuna-tsintsadze
Earlier this week, Mark Johnson from User Voice, Dr Claire Fitzpatrick from Lancaster University, and our colleague Helen Mills joined our Director Richard Garside on the latest edition of Last month in criminal justice. Topics covered included:
- women and girls with a care background in the criminal justice system
- the latest developments in the Undercover Policing Inquiry
- chaos in the prison education system, and
- should those caught stealing food to survive the cost-of-living crisis be prosecuted?
We have now produced eight Last month in criminal justice programmes since we launched the series last year. You can access them all here.
We have also held seven Lunch with... programmes, with Frances Crook, Pragna Patel and Suresh Grover, Whitney Iles, Shirley Debono and Donna Mooney, Gloria Morrison and Jan Cunliffe, Charlie Weinberg, and Alex S. Vitale. You can access them all here.
We are taking a break from both Last month in criminal justice and Lunch with... over the summer, with a view to launching a new series of both in the autumn of 2022. We're keen to receive feedback on both series. If you attended one or more of either programme, keep a look out for an email from us, asking you to share your thoughts: what you liked, what you didn't like, and how we can improve.
Prison Service Journal
The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is proud to host the online archive of Prison Service Journal, on behalf of the editorial board.
From the archive: Prison Service Journal 255, published in July 2021, was co-edited by the Journal's editor, Dr Jamie Bennett, the psychotherapist Matt Wotton, and our colleague here at the Centre, Dr Roger Grimshaw. It included:
- An interview with the Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Felicity de Zulueta
- Matt Wotton on the role of psychological therapies in reducing reoffending
- Dr Roger Grimshaw on listening to young people talking about trauma and violence in their lives
- Dr Alexandria Bradley on viewing prisons through a trauma-informed lens
- Richard Shuker on therapeutic communities
Access all the articles from Prison Service Journal 255 here.
"Another of Barry's clients had a very unwelcome habit of defecating in the waiting area". Read Mike Guilfoyle's latest article, on dealing with 'challenging' probation clients.
From the archive: Read the speech Susie Orbach gave in 2012, on how psychoanalytic theory can be used to aid social policy thinking and practice.
Eye on criminal justice
There is a "depressingly low level of activity for prisoners", despite the supposed easing of lockdown measures, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor said in a lecture earlier this week. Speaking about the impact of the prisons lockdown, he said: "We can’t yet know what the long-term effects of extended lockdowns will be on this generation of prisoners, but it is likely there will be a price to pay for the boredom, the inactivity, the loss of family ties, the postponement of group therapy and the lack of education or work".
The House of Commons Justice Committee has launched in new inquiry into public perceptions of sentencing. Committee Chair, Sir Bob Neill, said, "We want to know how the public accesses information on sentencing and what the public thinks about the current system. The Committee will also examine what can be done in order to improve public understanding of sentencing".
A new report from the all-party group on democracy and the constitution has warned that the judiciary is facing an increase in politicised attacks from government. Chair of the all-party group, Geraint Davies MP, said: "At a time that the rule of law has been broken at No 10 and the human rights of refugees is centre-stage in the media, the case for a safeguarded and impartial judiciary is of critical importance to protect our fundamental values of democracy, rights and the rule of law from erosion in the future".
A new report from the National Audit Office, out this week, concluded that the government has not transformed the electronic tagging system and has wasted £98 million trying to do so. Gareth Davis, head of the National Audit Office, said: "Significant work remains to strengthen the evidence base and understand the impact of electronic monitoring on reoffending. HMPPS must learn lessons so it can deliver a reliable, responsive and cost-effective service that protects the public".
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