Stories categorized “Criminal justice”:

Madness behind bars

Published December 2004.

Continuing our major series on the criminal justice system, Nick Davies reveals the scandal of the tens of thousands of mentally-disordered men and women who have been herded into our prisons and left there without effective treatment.

A prison is not a mental hospital

Published December 2004.

Here’s a story about just how hard it is for a bad system to mend its ways, even when a lot of people are trying to do the right thing. It’s about a young man from Birmingham, which is important in itself, because the local prison at Winson Green is now the showcase for the prison service’s drive to improve life for its mentally-disordered inmates.

The most dangerous prisoner in Britain

Published December 2004.

In the second part of his investigation into mentally-disordered prisoners, Nick Davies tells the story of a prisoner who has become a living nightmare, one of the several thousand severely ill held behind bars and denied a hospital bed.

The jailing of mentally disordered children

Published December 2004.

Concluding his investigation into mentally-disordered prisoners, Nick Davies looks at the soaring number of children who have been locked up in prisons which cannot deal with their often alarming mental health problems.

The achievements of justice

Published April 2004.

There is order in the court. There is chaos on the streets. And they meet in the main hall of Thames magistrates court in the East End of London. It is busting with people – this guy made of muscle yelling at his tiny female lawyer “This is MY case, this is MY life”; the elegant Somali man with the beautiful black suit cruising quite lost through the crowd without a word of English to find his way; the young Bengali lad who just blew a spliff in the toilets; the prosecutor reading “God Knows” by Joseph Heller; the little knot of regular defence lawyers, Charlie and Teresa and Denis and Keith, swapping the gossip and wondering how long it will be before somebody tells them the new security code for the door to their room so they can finally start work for the day.

Punished for being poor

Published April 2004.

For £400, Allan Seymour would stop breaking the law. He’s been breaking it now for 34 years. He’s been punished with fines, punished in the community, punished in prison. Everybody is always telling him they’re going to rehabilitate him – he’s done all the courses. But here he is: 53 years old and up in court yet again. All for want of £400.

The collapse of a service

Published April 2004.

Senior probation officers have told the Guardian that some life prisoners are being kept behind bars for two or three years too long, simply because their overstretched service cannot provide the reports which the parole board needs to consider their release.

Disorder in the court system

Published April 2004.

Joey Ganguli is at it all the time. He lives and breathes and earns his rolls of cash right in the middle of the Asian gang wars which run through criminal life in the East End of London like beach life runs through Blackpool.

The judge who was betrayed by justice

Published December 2003.

Andrew Chubb devoted most of his working life to justice, first as a lawyer in the merchant navy, then as a barrister (he appeared, for example, at the Rosemary West murder trial) and finally as a crown court judge on the western circuit – nearly 30 years of service to this country’s system of civil and criminal justice. Then he died. And justice deserted him.

To be more precise: the police failed effectively to investigate his death; two forensic experts produced reports whose conclusions quite openly owed more to guesswork than to evidence; a pathologist conducted a post-mortem which came up with a cause of death which was not proven; a coroner returned a verdict which does not stand up to scrutiny; and so, the truth was lost – because the system failed on almost every front, even when it was required to investigate the possible murder of a judge.

Defects in the defence against terrorism

Published October 2003.

“Whatever damage we have done to Al Qaida, they continue to operate…. Whatever damage they are able to inflict, they will do so. We cannot be sure where or when they will strike. But we can be certain they will try.” David Blunkett, Home Secretary.

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