what's happening in prisons across the UK today?
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Heart attack kills prison officer in footy game
BY LAURA HANNAM
27 November 2008
A prison officer died of a heart attack while playing football at Woodhill jail.
Ted Evans, from Sissinghurst Drive, Westcroft, collapsed in the prison's gymnasium at around 12.30pm on Thursday.
The fifty-year-old was taken to Milton Keynes Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Mr Evans worked as a prison officer on one of the house units at the jail, on Tattenhoe Street, for ten years.
Luke Serjeant, the prison's governor, said: "Ted was highly respected by prisoners and staff at Woodhill are in deep shock following his sudden death.
"He will be hugely missed by his friends and colleagues at the prison." Mr Evans was married with six children aged between eight and 26.
He met his wife Sarah in 1991 while working for the probation service.
He lived in Milton Keynes with his family for more than three years after moving from Hougton Regis, near Dunstable.
He liked to keep fit and could often be seen going on long walks with their two springer spaniels.
Sarah said he loved his job at Woodhill prison and got on well with the inmates as he 'never judged anybody'.
"He just accepted everybody for who they were and treated them how they should be treated," she said.
"He was loving, caring and would do anything for anybody.
"I have got letters and cards from some of the prisoners." She added that he was a loving father and would be greatly missed by the family.
His daughter Emily, 14, added: "His nickname was 'sorry' because he would say sorry for the grass being green.
"He loved football and supported Luton Town all his life. At least he died doing something he loved."
SCOTLAND: Jails chief: we are in crisis
Exclusive by LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter September 20 2008
Scotland's prisons are in a state of "emergency" and are a risk to inmates, staff and the country, according to the man responsible for them.
Mike Ewart, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), yesterday took the unprecedented step of speaking out about the dangerous level of inmates and called for a cap on numbers to help cope with overcrowding.
Speaking exclusively to The Herald, he revealed that the country's prison capacity is 6625 but, with doubling up in cells, the estate can safely cope with an estimated 8000 prisoners. This week the prison population reached an all-time high of 8137.
Mr Ewart has taken legal advice on the conflicting issues of his responsibilities under health and safety legislation and his statutory requirement to accommodate every prisoner sentenced to jail.
Ministers have now been advised that the present level of overcrowding is unsustainable and exceeds safety limits.
"We have reached a point where the prison population has exceeded design capacity and the level at which it is safe to operate," said Mr Ewart.
"The risk has become unacceptable. I would be derelict in my duties if I had not let ministers know, but I could not divulge what ministerial advice has been given."
The Herald can also reveal that the Prison Officers' Association met Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, earlier this week to discuss health and safety concerns about running prisons above their legal limits.
Traditionally the start of September marks a seasonal decrease in prisoner numbers but this year the dip has failed to happen.
The safe maximum level for Barlinnie is about 1600. It's population recently reached 1744.
There are already some 350 prisoners on Home Detention Curfew, a mechanism which allows certain inmates to be released early on a tag.
"We need a cap on the prisoner numbers in the longer term," said Mr Ewart. "The evidence from other European jurisdictions shows that this is what they have done to move away from excessively high prison populations. We need to be able to say, when we are full, we are full.
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How faith changed dangerous prisoner's life
Sep 18 2008 by Andrew Pain, Evening Gazette
A REFORMED Middlesbrough man once classed as one of the most dangerous prisoners in Britain has told how finding God has changed his life.
At one point, Shane Taylor was housed on the same wing of Wakefield maximum security prison as the notorious Charles Bronson.
Though he has now changed his ways, Shane is brutally honest about the lifestyle that led him to be marked as “dangerous” by the Home Office.
He recalls first indulging in crime as a boy when he and a friend smashed open a phone box and took coins from inside.
This theft marked the start of a 17-year campaign of drugs, robberies, burglaries and all kinds of savage violence.
In late 2000, aged 20, Shane was arrested on an attempted murder charge following a stabbing in Hartlepool.
The charge was dropped to wounding with intent and affray but he received a sentence of four years and nine months.
While imprisoned Shane, now 27, chose to fight the system - by launching violent attacks on fellow inmates and prison officers.
“I was trying to be the baddest and hardest man around,” he said. “I didn’t care if I got life. I didn’t care about anything or anyone. I just wanted to maintain the reputation I had created.”
His dangerous reputation was heightened by a prison riot at Holme House in July 2002 - for which Shane received an additional four year sentence for the part he played. The Home Office categorised him as a high risk inmate and too dangerous for “normal” prisons.
He was then put on the “Ghost Train” as prisoners know it, where dangerous inmates are taken from one maximum security jail to the next. Shane was moved 13 times in five years between the likes of Frankland, Fullsutton, Long Lartin and Whitemoor. His violence towards prison officers - who to him represented the detested “authority” - meant long spells in segregation.
At times Shane even had a team of officers wearing protective riot gear watching him as he showered or exercised in case he “kicked off”.
But in 2006, at Parkhurst Prison on the Isle Of Wight, Shane met fellow prisoner Robert Bull, who would change his life.
“This man spoke to me at great length about Jesus Christ,” said Shane. “And I thought he was crazy.
“However, one thing he said to me stuck in my mind. That he will never get out of prison, but in his mind he was already free.
“At the time I didn’t understand what he meant by that, but during my time in segregation I got a clear vision in my mind of Robert Bull the Christian, and an overwhelming urge to write to him.
“I described how I felt in my letter to him and that the urge to contact him had been overpowering and he replied at once to me.
“He told me that God was trying to touch my life - He was trying to open my eyes but that I just didn’t know it yet.
“Again I thought the poor man was indeed crazy.”
But on Shane’s next move, to Long Lartin Prison - home of mass murderers, terrorists, rapists, drug barons and other hardcore criminals - he walked into an Alpha course, which could be described as a basic introduction to God.
Shane admits he only went into the course for the free cakes and biscuits but came out a changed man.
His reputation for violence was already well established and prison officers were shocked by the sudden change in Shane. Many - fairly, in Shane’s view - thought he was putting on an act to secure early release.
“At times I was mocked, laughed at and doubted but I didn’t care,” said Shane. “I believe I was being tested because of my new-found faith.” Following a year of “good behaviour” Shane was released six-and-a-half years through his eight year and nine month sentence in May 2007.
Since then he has moved back to central Middlesbrough and has devoted his life to spreading the word of God.
On Sunday at 6.30pm Shane will tell his story at St Agnes Church in Easterside, Middlesbrough, which will also act as an introduction to the Alpha course. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Twenty prisoners given use of drug kits
Sep 14 2008 By Raymond Hainey
TWENTY jailed junkies have been given heroin kits to help them shoot up safely in their cells.
Prison chiefs handed them out despite insisting drug users would be reported to police.
Prison officers have slammed the scheme - which aims to cut the spread of AIDS and hepatitis C.
Derek Turner, of the Prison Officers Association Scotland, said: "We are against illegal drug taking in prisons.
"We understand the health issues but we shouldn't be giving prisoners the equipment to make drugs easier to take."
The kits include citric acid to sterilise needles, swabs to clean skin and a foil cup to mix and heat heroin - but no syringes.
They are available to just 0.2 per cent of the 8100 prison population.
Glasgow University drugs expert Dr Paul Skett said: "It is pointless because of the contradictions involved."
The SPS said yesterday: "Implementation is slower than expected."
Justice Secretary Jack Straw has ordered an inquiry after a computer hard-drive containing the personal details of 5,000 prison officers went missing.
YAHOO NEWS Sept 6, 2008
The loss of the data by private computing firm EDS was reported to the Prison Service in July, but it was not until now that Mr Straw was informed of the problem.
According to a letter from EDS seen by the News of the World, the hard-drive contains information including names, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers and Prison Service employee numbers. It was last seen as long ago as July 2007.
In a statement, Mr Straw said: "I am extremely concerned about this missing data. I was informed of its loss at lunchtime and have ordered an urgent inquiry into the circumstances and the implications of the data loss and the level of risk involved.
"I have also asked for a report as to why I was not informed as soon as my department became aware of this issue. My officials are also in touch with EDS as part of these processes. We take these matters extremely seriously."
The incident is the latest in a string of data losses to embarrass the Government, including the disappearance last October of two computer discs containing personal details of 25 million child benefit claimants.
The Prison Officers' Association said the loss, which it had not been informed about, could end up costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.
National chairman Colin Moses said: "We are extremely concerned that not only has this data been lost, but that the Prison Service appear to have tried to conceal this serious breach in security.
"It is a breach that we believe could ultimately cost the taxpayer millions and millions of pounds, because, if the information lost is personal and sensitive, it may well mean staff having to move prisons, move homes and relocate their families. This obviously will have a significant cost to the taxpayer.
"We believe that the people who have tried to conceal this serious breach should be brought to account and we are calling on Jack Straw to fully investigate this matter and ensure that justice is seen to be done."
Killer threatened prison officers
12 August 2008
A man jailed for killing an Aberdeen father has been punished again after threatening prison officers.
Shaun Paton was sentenced to 10 years in 2006 after being found guilty of the culpable homicide of Dean Jamieson.
Paton had been serving part of his sentence at Craiginches in Aberdeen but threatened prison officers when told he was being moved to another jail.
He admitted breach of the peace and was sentenced to six months, to be served concurrently with his other sentence.
Mr Jamieson, 30, was found near Aberdeen in April 2006 after he was robbed, stripped and left to die.
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Staff in children’s prisons have been forbidden to use physical restraint to control disruptive youngsters, after an Appeal Court ruling yesterday. view the thread
From The Times
July 29, 2008
Three judges quashed a move to broaden the circumstances in which staff could restrain children in secure units, saying that this was a breach of their human rights.
As a result of the ruling, officers in child prisons can use restraint methods only to prevent inmates escaping from custody, causing injury to themselves, damaging property or inciting another inmate to escape or damage property.
New rules allowing wider use of restraint techniques in secure training centres had been brought in to legiti-mise practices by contractors running four centres holding young offenders and suspects aged 12-17. Private companies running the centres lobbied for the change, saying it would be difficult to keep order without the power to restrain youngsters physically. The rule change was introduced last June after the deaths of two youths in separate incidents in 2004.
Gareth Myatt, 15, was asphyxiated while he was being restrained by three staff members at Rainsbrook secure training centre in Northamptonshire. Adam Rickwood, 14, hanged himself after being restrained in the secure training centre at Hassockfield, Co Durham.
In a recent appeal brought by a youth, known as RC, Lord Justice Buxton said the restraint methods amounted to “inhuman and degrading treatment” contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ruling was critical of the way in which the four secure training centres – Rainsbrook, Hassockfield, Oakhill, in Milton Keynes, and Medway, in Kent – were run.
SIGN OUR PETITION TO PROTECT PRISON OFFICERS ACROSS THE UK view the thread
Sign the petition!
As the Prison Population increases, so does the number of assaults on Prison Officers. We call upon The Prime Minister to equip Officers in the Female and YOI estates with Extendable Batons in order to protect themselves and their colleagues and give them the same protection as their colleagues in the adult male estate.
Adult games banned in prisons view the thread
Monday, 28 Jul 2008
Prisoners in England and Wales are set to be banned from playing 18-rated games, according to the BBC.
Such adult titles will be removed from prisons by September 30th, a cut seen as a result of prison overcrowding.
Inmates who show good behaviour under the new rules will still be allowed to play other, less 'mature' games, as will those at risk of suicide.
The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) said games were "no substitute for purposeful activity like work or education classes." I suppose it depends what game you are playing ... Civilisation IV? Brain Training?
"We should not forget the usefulness of these games to prison officers and governors keeping order in overcrowded prisons," continued Geoff Dobson, spokesperson for the PRT.
"This instruction ensures consistency across the prison estate with regards to the use of games consoles as part of the earned privileges scheme.
"For those prisoners permitted to use games consoles in cell, the cost of purchasing consoles and games will rest solely upon the prisoner and will not be met by the taxpayer."
In 2007, the government spent £10,000 supplying young offender institutions with 80 PlayStations and 15 Xboxes.