On Wednesday 11th May 2011, I was invited by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to attaned a talk with Dame Anne Elizabeth Owers. DBE (born 23 June 1947),
For those who don’t know who she is, Dame Anna Owers was the first female Chief Inspector of Prisons for nine years, where her post ended back in 2010.
Before becoming Chief Inspector, she was the Director of JUSTICE, which is a UK- based human rights and law reform organisation.
When speaking about the justice system, which is something I have very limited if any at all knowledge on, she was highlighting the “rights” prisoners should have and for them not be locked up for 23 hours a day. These rights include things like, having a door handle on the prison doors, so prisoners feel they are in a room, rather than in a box. Also the fact that people should not have one place to, eat, sleep and urinate in the same room. Humans should be given their “right” to have privacy.
She mentioned that for a lot of people in prisons at the moment, many mental health problems and maybe it’s those issues we need to address, rather than “punishing” them by keeping them in a cell for 23 hours a day. Also that some of the disabled prisoners, were unable to seek assistance with washing due to health and safety reasons, I mean where is the line? Should a human being who is in prison not be entitled to seek assistance to wash?
The talk for me was insightful and intriguing as we don’t really think about the conditions prisoners have to face, Yes that have committed a crime, and Yes they deserve to do their time, however for me it’s the fact that they have a “right” to have privacy and treatment to help conquer under lying issues going on within their psyche, which can help “prevent” causing crimes in the future.
But due to lack of resources or government funding will these issues ever go away?, Or is it that people will not give ex offenders a chance and argue that they've done wrong and deserve to be treated with the consequences with no true understanding as to why, where, when and how they got there in the first place?