11 March 2006

Justice System Eroding

It was an interesting point raised by Nigel in my diary on reasons why the police target people - sometimes the wrong person!

As we all know recent changes and proposals for change by the Government to the Criminal Justice system have caused serious concerns. The new anti-terrorist laws, the abolition of the right to trial by jury amongst some of these changes and now, following the report by Lord Carter on the 'Procurement of Criminal Defence Services, market based Reform' these concerns will grow even more.

The report looks for ways to encourage early disposal of cases! It suggests just having one duty solicitor at the police station and the client, or person in custody, will have no choice in the matter. 'Like it or lump it' scenario. If the defendant insists on their own choice of solicitor, then they would have to pay privately for this service. This is a very dangerous practice.

From my experience my situation went terribly pear shaped because I had a local solicitor who had never previously dealt with a murder case before and was the duty solicitor. I was trusting at that time. After all I was innocent and 'had nothing to fear' because I even (foolishly) trusted the police! I would now, from experience, recommend anyone in such a position to appoint a solicitor from out of the area, not the duty solicitor who often can work far too closely with the police in question.

Terrible events do happen and rightly so individuals need to be caught and prosecuted. But, when someone is innocent then every precaution has to be taken and we cannot allow standards to drop or a right and proper defence to be offered.

Costing should not be in the equation when dealing with people's lives and their freedom. Too many aspects of our justice system are being eroded and I fear at a very great cost to future miscarriages of justice!

10 March 2006

Prison Fiddling Drugs Figures

This is a response I made after mojuk published a piece on how prisons fiddle their figures relating to how much time prisoners are allowed out of cells on a daily basis.

Prison fiddling not just confined to time out of cells

Prisons also 'fiddle' figures to hide the serious drug problems in their midst! All jails have a drug problem and rather than admit that, HMP cover it up. Much more help is needed within the prison environment to help those who are addicted in the hope that addiction can be lessened whilst in custody and therefore reduce the risk of re-offending on release.

I have never used drugs but it was prisoners like me who would be regularly subjected to Mandatory Drug Testing (M.D.T) by prison staff in order to give the much needed negative results which then allowed the prison to show in their statistics that there was not a drug problem.

In 1995 the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard introduced M.D.T into the prison system. Prisoners were taken for urine samples which in turn are checked for the presence of drugs. I saw women who had only previously used cannabis in a 'spliff' begin to use heroin and even inject! I wrote letters to many including Michael Howard whilst in jail telling him he actually created a worse problem re drugs in prison?

He helped to turn some into junkies through the M.D.T system because those who needed a 'fix' soon realised that cannabis stays in the system for 28 days whereas heroin can be flushed out in 2 or 3 days. So to avoid getting a positive drug test and thus losing privileges the women switched to heroin which is I believe far more addictive and far more harmful? Hence the authorities wanting negative samples to allow their stats to hide the problem!

Sue May

More as I get it

14 Years On

This coming weekend, the 11th / 12th March, is 14 years since the awful murder of my Aunty. It seems unbelievable that still we do not have Justice for Aunty and the fight to clear my name remains ongoing.

My life has changed so much over these long years. It is dominated by the legal wrangles I have to pursue and has totally altered my perceptions of the whole criminal justice system. I am committed to carry on the fight for as long as it takes and as always I am so very grateful to all my friends, family and others who continue to stand by me and give their support.

Women and Criminal Justice

John O from www.mojuk.org.uk sends me interesting pieces of information on matters relating to the legal system and prisons. I will post some of these (along with my responses) on my blog in the hope it generates some debate?

The first one I want to highlight relates to Charles Kennedy's (Secretary of State) recent statement in the house of parliament on the matter of Women and Criminal Justice. You can read his full statement HERE

My own response to his statement now follows and is taken from the Mojuk newsletter

Charles Clarke issued a written Ministerial statement 'Women and Criminal Justice' on Wednesday the 8th March to mark International Women's Day.

Obviously we must welcome all the proposals being put forward and hope that they are realised?

Many women in prison suffer terribly from being separated from their children and the amount of self-harm is frightening.

I do feel it is necessary to promote education in prisons to help those who maybe did not achieve in school but other projects that used to run in prisons were shelved because everything now has to be 'accredited'. Thus initiatives like sewing, cookery and home making were deemed unsuitable because they did not carry accredited status.

A lot of women need help with such areas and I feel more needs to be done in this field.

What I also feel is very important is support on release. It is pointless to lock people up for the specified time and then merely release them with little, and in some cases, no support!

When in a Mother and Baby unit in prison, there is always help and support, but the worrying factor is who follows this through when the Mother and child leave the confines of the prison?

I believe far more is needed to help prisoners through the period on release when they feel vulnerable and maybe have no job - sometimes no home! Is it any wonder so many reoffend?

Sue May

I will post again with more interesting pieces from Mojuk's newsletter.

09 March 2006

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This is quite clever.
You can now subscribe to my blog by filling in your email address below. Then whenever I post a new message on here, you will receive an email telling you about it. Clever hey?


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03 March 2006

Malicious Police Harrassment

I had a more promising letter yesterday from the I.P.C.C (Independent Police Complaints Commission). Since I came home from prison I have been subjected to what I say amounts to malicious harrassment from a police officer in my case and made a complaint some months ago.

It is standard practice for any police complaint to be sent to the force in question initially and of course the result was that Greater Manchester Police rejected my complaint and even said they were not willing to record it! I therefore took it up with the I.P.C.C who have now told me the complaint has been upheld, it will be recorded and duly investigated.

Obviously at this stage they are not making any judgement but it is only right and proper that any complaint should be logged and recorded. Professionals like the police must be accountable for their actions and the system has to be transparent. It was promised that the new I.P.C.C which replaced the original P.C.A (Police Complaints Association) was going to have more powers and I remain hopeful that this is the case.