Posts Tagged ‘prison’

The Victim’s Voice

August 20, 2012
Brixton Prison

Brixton Prison

… a commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation. — Dullah Omar, former Minister of Justice, South Africa

Prison does not work. Prisoners go in, serve their sentence, are set loose, and then return. The only aspect that works is that whilst inside, they are not outside committing crimes.

For one group prison does work. For those running the private prisons, it has become a very profitable business, in the US prison has become Big Business with Big Bucks to be made.

Restorative Justice is an attempt to get better results in terms of repeat offenders, that is once out of prison, don’t come back.

BBC Radio 4 re-broadcast what had been originally broadcast on National Prison Radio (a radio station for prisoners). A group of victims met with a group of prisoners to discuss the effect crime had on them. The crimes had not been committed by the prisoners, though they were hardened criminals who had committed similar crimes.

The crimes were horrific.

A lad was out one night and was set upon by a gang of yobs. They kicked him to death, repeatedly stamped on his head. The couple doing the telling were his parents.

Another who told her tale and got very upset, apologised to the prisoners for getting upset and for upsetting them.

The prisoners, I assume chosen as hard cases, were visibly upset by what they heard.

Following the session, one of the prisoners who was due for release, was so moved by what he heard, that he offered to work with victims on the programme to get the message across to other prisoners.

Psychologist Professor Tanya Byron who conducted the sessions in Brixton Prison had her own grandmother beaten to death.

The programme was very difficult and quite upsetting to listen to.

It was very reminiscent of the post-Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings held in South Africa under the chairmanship of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Some of what was told was horrific.

The bird and the cage

November 11, 2010
broken chain

broken chain

Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colorful, marvelous feathers.

One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him.

She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two travelled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird.

But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains!

And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird.

And she thought: “I’m going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again.”

The bird, who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.

She looked at the bird every day. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: “Now you have everything you could possibly want.”

However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest.

The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.

One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him. But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.

If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realized that what had thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body.

Without the bird, her life too lost all meaning, and Death came knocking at her door.

“Why have you come?” she asked Death.

“So that you can fly once more with him across the sky,” Death replied.

“If you had allowed him to come and go, you would have loved and admired him ever more; alas, you now need me in order to find him again.”

From Eleven Minutes by Paulo Celho. Also posted on his blog.

For my lovely friend Sian.