Archive for the ‘Prisons’ Category

Glad to be in prison

Posted: 22 November 2017 in On the Pilgrim's Road, Prisons
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PH-Prison-Service.jpgBarry* stood up in the Chapel service. “I’m glad to be in prison”. General muttering from the other men. “No, I am. I would be dead by Christmas if not.  I’m a long term drug addict and I’ve been told that my heart won’t last this way.  I’ve now got a chance to get sorted.”  The Chaplain had just asked if anyone had anything they’d like to thank God for during the week, at which Barry was up immediately.

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I did not know

Posted: 1 November 2017 in Prisons
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We did not know.jpg

They did not know

“I did not know”.  Jay was a drug dealer, now enjoying a long stretch in HMP Slade for supply of significant amounts of Class A drugs.  He had spoken with a parent whose son had died from an accidental drug overdose.  Though the son was not likely to be one of his own end users, Jay still saw the connection.

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Facing the Killers

Posted: 19 March 2017 in Prisons
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Chris Donovan cake.jpg

Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan was murdered on a suburban street one evening by people he did not know.  Not an attack by a hysterical lover.  Not a robbery gone wrong.  Not hit be crossfire in gang warfare.  Not a spiteful but unintentionally forceful punch.  This death is in the premier league of pointless killings.

Keep him alive
The parents keep him alive in the eyes of others who needed to meet the memory of him.  They told the tragic story to prisoners in HMP Millbank*.  I was there, helping lead a victim awareness course there (Sycamore Tree).

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The Crime Makes The Man?

Posted: 12 March 2017 in Prisons
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Chris Donovan

The late Chris Donovan

Like an Ian McEwan novel, one single event changes lives, utterly, forever.  But this is not fiction.  Two young men, brothers Chris and Phil go out to see their sister after a hard day at work.  They don’t come home that night.  One never comes back.

Chris and Phil were walking along a main road on their way, when they came face to face with a group of around fourteen youngsters, male and female. With no prior warning, no conversation, the boys started to punch, pushing the brothers to the ground.  Kicking, stamping on their heads. Phil was unconscious with a broken nose.  Chris unconscious was left deliberately in the main road. Cars swerved to avoid, but not all could.  Chris was hit by car and his mangled body dragged 40 feet down the road.  Chris died in hospital. Phil’s injuries still impact his life, even after all this time.  Chris’s body was so badly damaged that the mortician had to strap the body like an Egyptian mummy. (more…)

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Old girl Liz in old nick Newgate

I was handed a bag of cocaine this week.  Stuff that was being smuggled into prison, and in this case caught before sale. (I didn’t keep it). Cocaine, spice, mobile phones, even fast food.  Thrown over prison walls.  Smuggled it.  Or brought in by a few corrupt staff.  Prisoners – crooked and unredeemable?  And today an acquaintance piled it on.

Bill, aren’t your prisoners pulling the wool over your eyes when you go in?  Don’t you feel that they are conning you? Aren’t they just seeking to get “a good report” back to the prison authorities?

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prison-christmas

As the prisoners come in, they wish me “Happy Christmas”.  Many of them anyway, and with cheery grins.  I was surprised.  They were glad to see us doing music for the Christmas Eve service.  Glad that there was something on for Christmas, glad to be glad-handed.

Trouble over Christmas period in prisons?  Perhaps in HMP Cardiff yesterday.  Not where I’ve been.  I’ve been inside twice this month, including Christmas Eve.  There was more natter than normal, and it had an “edge”.  Yet, no more than that.

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prayers-bannerI
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined, for unto us a child is born, a son is given.”
We are in darkness here, oh God
miserable being here this Christmas.
Want to be home at this time.
We are not home. Yet…. we are not alone.

May we be the light that shined on:
.     mates on the Wings – encouragement
.          wife on the phone – a truly listening ear
.               kids in the Visitors Centre – sweet words.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
and ransom your captive people (more…)