Prisoners dying in British jails

This is a music video about Irish prisoner Kevin Barry, hanged by British occupiers in 1920:

In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty
Just a lad of eighteen summers
Yet there’s no one can deny
As he walked to death that morning
He proudly held his head on high

Just before he faced the hangman
In his dreary prison cell
British soldiers tortured Barry
Just because he would not tell
The names of his brave comrades
Certain things they wished to know
“Turn informer or we’ll kill you”
Kevin Barry answered “No”

Calmly standing to attention
While he bade his last farewell
To his broken hearted mother
Whose sad grief no one can tell
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be
Then to death he walked on smiling
That old Ireland might be free

Another martyr for old Ireland
Another murder for the crown
Whose brutal laws may kill the Irish
But can’t keep their spirits down
Lads like Barry are no cowards
From the foe they will not fly
Lads like Barry will free Ireland
For her sake they’ll live and die

From London daily The Morning Star:

No votes in jails

(Friday 21 September 2007)

THE high level of deaths in custody in Britain is a condemnation of a society that likes to proclaim itself as civilised.

When people are held in police cells, sent to jail or placed in secure mental health hospitals, the state has a duty of care to them.

Political neanderthals may attempt to wash their hands of this segment of society, but the standard of care given is a measure of our society’s humanity.

And the fact that 114 people in these institutions were able to take their own lives last year indicates an inadequate level of care.

Prisoners Officers Association leaders, whose members care for inmates of prisons and secure mental health hospitals, have noted the huge increase in the numbers of prisoners who are inside because of drink and drug-related problems.

Many have mental problems associated with traumas endured while serving in the armed services, especially in the plethora of overseas wars in recent years.

Former paratrooper Christopher Alder‘s needless death in a police cell and the uncaring and racist treatment that he suffered provides a graphic illustration of the depth of this problem.

While the prison population is rising partly because of the government’s addiction to the outdated prescription of former Tory home secretary Michael Howard that “Prison works,” it is also because greater numbers of addicted, mentally ill and homeless people are roaming the streets.

The prisons are used as human filing cabinets to tidy up communities and to keep society’s flotsam and jetsam out of sight and sound of the rest of us.

But these are not flotsam and jetsam. They are people like us, who have particular problems for which they need help not incarceration.

In the USA, more prisoners than ever, see here.

Art by (women) prisoners: here. And here.

1 thought on “Prisoners dying in British jails

  1. Pingback: A history of British colonialism and neo-colonialism in Ireland, 1789-2006 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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