Monday, 30 May 2011
The Prison Service has gone beyond the point of crisis after the deaths of three people in custody within a month, an expert has claimed.
Queen’s University professor Phil Scraton of the Action Prison reform group said the treatment of inmates with mental health issues was simply not good enough.
Lyn Edwards, the mother of one of the inmates who died earlier this month, said the system was failing in its duty of care towards her son. Aaron Hogg, 21, from North Belfast, was awaiting trial in Maghaberry Prison over attempted murder.
“The whole system let Aaron down,” she said.
She had written a letter just saying how vulnerable he was, that he was in their care and it was up to them to look after him, she told the BBC.
“There are a lot of people in there with mental health issues who are just put in there, locked up, forgotten about, and that’s it,” she added.
Professor Scraton said the Prison Service was not fit for purpose.
“I gave evidence to the prison review a few weeks back and I called it an institutionalised malaise,” he said.
“When something continues as long as the problems we have in our prisons have continued, it’s no longer a crisis, a crisis is something that comes to a head and you recover very quickly.”
Earlier this month, a man aged 19 and a woman aged 23 were found dead in their cells in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre.