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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 109, 28th February 1997REMEMBER: WRITE TO A PRISONER NOT YOUR M.P.
"While we are here let's not forget the ones we left
behind. I stayed up all night talking through the wall last night to a man who
is innocent. But he is buried alive. The list of names is endless. These
people are still where we were this morning; they are still fighting for their
innocence. They have got nothing."
As the release of the Bridgwater Three after eighteen years wrongful imprisonment sent shock waves through the judicial system people are asking could it happen again? The authorities say it couldn't but as Paul Foot, author of the book "Who Killed Carl Bridgewater" said: "Why has it taken so long for this grotesque injustice to be righted? the answer is that the judicial and police authorities are extremely reluctant to admit it is possible that their procedures can go terribly wrong."
With 60,000 prisoners in the UK - and rising (that's one in every thousand) - more miscarriages are likely to occur. Justice, the legal human rights organisation, estimate each year, some 200 innocent people are sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment.
In fact things could be getting worse. The recent Criminal Procedure and Investigation Act approved rules to limit defence access to material, unless the police or prosecution say that it is relevant. And yesterday (Thursday) Home Secretary Michael Howard published 33 recommendations in Review of the Criminal Justice System, further limiting the right for a trial by jury for certain offences. Already public order offences such as obstruction of the highway and the use of threatening or abusive behaviour do not carry the right to jury trial.
Rough Justice"Those of you who have never been in prison cannot know the unbearable pain of separation from the world and from those you love, the terrible, dehumanising monotony of prison routine, and the feeling that every day spent inside is a day stolen from my life."
- Raphael Rowe, one of the M25 Three.
In 1988 Raphael Rowe, Michael Davis and Randolph Johnson were found guilty of the `M25 Murder'. During the trial even the judge said "So much of the evidence is itself tainted for one reason or another, and there is considerable uncertainty and inconsistency in important areas". Such as the fact that police were looking for three men, two of whom were white, one with fair hair and blue eyes - while those convicted are all black! M25 campaign, 28 Grimsell Park, Camberwell, London SE5 OTB. Phone 0171 735 2985.
KENNY CARTER was nearing the end of a short sentence for robbery when he was accused of murdering a cellmate - who tragically had hung himself in the night. Despite no forensic or fingerprint evidence, or evidence of a forced hanging, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. HMP Belmarsh, Western Way, Thamesmead, London, SE28 OEB
JOSEPHINE SMITH was convicted of murdering her husband in 1993. The court had heard evidence of how she had suffered many years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Her plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was rejected by the judge who recommend a 12 year sentence. She said "I killed him to get away safely, to get the children away safely with no fear of him coming after me." Justice for Women, 55 Rathcool Gardens, London N8 9NE
Prison life is extremely boring, so letters are generally the highlight of the day. Don't know what to say? Talk about your life, things you are up to - just be careful not to say anything that will get anyone into trouble. Most prisons do not allow letters in without a return address. Some get stopped, read, "diverted" and "lost" so it's often worth sending the first letter via recorded delivery as these have to be opened in the prisoner's presence. Most prisoners are not the "mad beasts" portrayed by the tabloids, they are ordinary people, and the only way they are going to know you support them is to tell them so GET WRITING.
KIT WILSON (involved in anti-road protests) is being held on remand at KG 3464, HMP Bullingdon, Patrickhaugh Rd., Arncot, Bicester OX6 OPZ He's to appear in Reading court on 20th March charged with affray, a charge disputed even by two security guards from Fairmile. On the 17th he will appear at Weymouth Magistrates Court for obstruction charges. He'd appreciate messages of support and people to turn up at his court cases.
The Bench Bunch
A 1984 survey of 150 Stockport Magistrates revealed an average age of 53 dealing with offenders over half of whom were under 21. The reason for the imbalance lies partly in the voluntary nature of the service, which can attract Ladies Bountiful with time on their hands and deter workers whose employers are reluctant to give them time off for magisterial duties. Selection procedures have also been to blame. The names of members of local advisory committees are keep secret in order to protect them from lobbying, which simply means they are lobbied by those "in the know". (There are several examples of undue influence by organisation like the Freemasons or Rotary). Too much attention has in the past been paid to recruitment from local political parties, business organisations and charities, and too little to the claims of welfare and minority groups. For example, in 1988 there were just 455 (1.9%) black Magistrates.
WomenWomen are more likely to be convicted of 'crimes of poverty' unconnected with violent crime, and more likely than men to be imprisoned. Most women in prison are in for fine default for a non-prisonable offence. Women are 68% of people convicted of not having a TV licence, and 1/3 of women imprisoned for non-payment of fines in 1994 were convicted of prostitution offences. 70% of convictions for theft committed by women are for amounts less than £50.
Source: Women Against Rape.
The Tommorow's People Trust is not part of the tacky '70s sci-fi TV series about teenage telepaths, but Grand Metropolitan's vehicle for Workfare. Its London HQ was invaded by claimants this week; pissed off at its involvement in Project Work slave labour pilot schemes - the work for dole scheme coming your way soon.
Thirty people occupied the building, with one cop trying for Crap Arrest of the Week, when he threatened to nick the owner of the banners for criminal damage to the windows (caused by the tape sticking them up!) After being ejected from the building, they leafleted GM staff and passers by. Thay said: "Any firm, charity or council involved in Project Work can expect to be targeted by angry claimants. With this occupation we warn any company thinking of getting involved in Project Work: think again." More Project Work pilot schemes are starting at the end of March, including one here in Brighton.
Groundswell has called a National Day of Action against Project Work for 2nd April.
The + FilesTrees For Life, a project founded in 1989 to help regenerate and expand the Caledonian Forest in the Highland of Scotland, is in full swing. They aim to restore the forest to an area of 1500 sq. kilometres in the north-central Highlands. The project intends to restore the eco-system in Scotland which was once home to wolves, brown bears and beavers. To make a donation to the project or to get involved in the volunteer work weeks contact Trees For Life, The Park, Findhorn Bay, Forres IV36 0TZ, Scotland. Or Tel: 01309 691292.
Euro BureauA 12 year campaign against the Euro-tourist highway that will carve through the Pyrenees destroying the last habitat of the European Brown Bear is soon to erupt into what promises to be a spectacular eviction of an impressive mountainside anti-road camp. Six empty cottages along the route are available and needing to be barricaded, and help is needed to defend to original camp. The region is too beautiful to be destroyed without resistance, the eviction is expected on March 15th, for information Tel: 00 33 593 47883, or the Justice? office and leave a message for Gwen.
SchNEWS in Brief
A recent technological breakthrough has meant that scientists have managed to genetically clone a sheep. The genetic reconstruction of embryos, which are then surgically placed in surrogate mothers, means that sheep can be genetically cloned and duplicated. `Dolly', derived simply from the adult ewe udder cell, has provoked questioning of the ethics of genetic engineering and cloning. And as Mark Little at the recent `Have I Got SchNEWS for you?' show asked, 'Why do they want to clone sheep, they all look the bloody same anyway!'
Last Wednesday in Newcastle 60 people stopped a nuclear warhead convoy travelling to Faslane submarine base in Scotland. The protesters performed a surprise two-pronged attack on the convoy meaning, as one officer said, "You caught us with our trousers down". Quick setting concrete was tipped over the windscreen of the first truck, locked-on on top and underneath of the convoy and one person claimed to have damaged the chassis of one of the trucks - holding up the convoy for well over 2 hours. More info Nukewatch on 01274 730795 who also offer NVDA training and info packs. To get involved in the resistance against the new nuclear nightmare contact YCND on 0171 607 3616.
"When you're in love with a beautiful penguin, it's hard...."
Icelandic zoo keeper Kennet Albourg took animal welfare to new extremes when he became smitten with a penguin called Brunella. Claiming he was trying to keep the bird warm, Albourg dressed it up in a black lace Wonderbra and suspenders, and was duly sacked. He now has a new job as a taxidermist's assistant: He says: "For a while my life was perfect, but now she's gone - and I'm stuffing squirrels."
The SchNEWS warns all readers not to be a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Reduce the chances of being jailed for a crime you didn't commit by committing lots of crime. Always trust the outcome of court cases, and never campaign for the release of those believed to be innocent, such as the Jackson Five. Then you will feel free. Honest.
Anarchist Tea Phone!
The Teapot - at the bottom of North Road - now have a phone: 01273 628192.
Now you can ring up and order your burger, chips and beans in advance.
SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 2DX, England
Last updated 21 May 1997
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