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Media Releases

Prisons and mental illness

Prisons have become the defacto mental institutions. Exclusion of the mentally ill is most starkly expressed in the government policy for expansion of the prison system; stigmatising the people held there and the blocking of community support for them.

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Crime Pays: Why Capitalism Needs Gaols and Why the Two Must Fall Together

Why capitalism needs jails and why the two must fall together

"Crime pays. I hate saying that, but it really does."
Arthur McDonald, former owner of California's largest private prison firm

With violence and terror as its tools, the prison system works to serve capitalism and maintain the current social order. Prisons in collaboration with the police, laws and court system, divert us from the real problems engendered by capitalism. They are the ultimate symbol of state and corporate control over individuals. They reinforce class structures and racial hierarchies by stigmatising a sector of the population as the ‘criminal class’, in addition to providing profits to corporations directly involved in prison operation.

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Watch Committee Media Releases

Media Release 10.02.97

Murder by Neglect - As Usual

The tragic death of James Alexander BRINDLE began on Thursday, February 6 when he was placed in a one-out cell environment whereby he was found hanging by a shoelace at 1305. He died when the life support machine was switched off on Sunday morning at Prince of Wales Hospital, said Ray Jackson.

Jimmy was 31 years old and the father of six children aged from 2 to 12. His death was totally tragic because custodial staff cynically ignored the Royal Commission Recommendations. Jimmy tried twice to be put with, firstly, the Aboriginal delegate (whose job it is to mentor incoming inmates) and secondly, his cousin. Another cousin was also available to participate in the care and control of Jimmy who was known to be stressed out.

The Night Senior at the Reception Induction Centre at Long Bay Gaol obviously believed that he knew best, and placed Jimmy in a two-out situation with a non-Aboriginal person on Monday, February 3. Jimmy was coming down off heroin and possibly marijuana.

As is usual for new prisoners with withdrawals Jimrny was cocktailed by Corrections Health staff at the Remand Induction Centre. It has been claimed that he was given Largactyl and Valium, also possibly Methadone. Whatever, the cocktail was enough to make him unsteady on his feet to the point where he had to be assisted to his cell on that fateful day. In a one-out situation.

Many questions need to be answered. His autopsy was done this afternoon and the Watch Committee will further investigate this tragic death to ascertain how?, and why? - and possibly who? Whether the death was murder - or murder by neglect? As usual.

This bring~ the New South Wales total for this year to four in less than six weeks. Two for the police and two for Corrective Services/Corrections Health. This was the New South Wales total for all of'96.

Two further deaths have occurred in Western Australia making the total 6 for this year already.

We need proper discussions, not discussions by Government appointment!

For further information please contact Ray Jackson on (02) 9264 9895.


Media Release 03. 02.97

Five More Deaths Pre Summit

Five more deaths in custody since 27.12.96 now brings the post May '89 total to 115. In a space of three weeks over the holiday season five young men are with us no more. Three deaths occurred involving the police and two involved prisons. Four deaths occurred in New South Wales and one in Western Australia. This brings the N.S.W. post May '89 total to 35, 50 since 1.1.80.

Jeffery James Shakespeare was 27 when he died on 30.12.96 as a result of a police pursuit in a stolen car. We do not condone the crime of car theft but there needs to be a better way to address the problem than high speed pursuits that endanger not only the public, the (usually) untrained driver at high speeds and of course the police, who are trained. Some years ago Brad Hazzard chaired a Commission looking at high speed puruits by the police which came up with several practical solutions. None were adopted by the N.S.W. Police Service.

Craig Leslie Conway died in Goulburn Gaol of a suspected unidentified drug overdose at 29 on 2.1.97. Hie death is still under investigation and several areas of concern are being looked at.

In W.A. on Friday 10.1.97, Peter Irwin Cameron, 36, collapsed and died hours after being released from prison on a special home leave pass. We await the post mortem outcome to find out why he died.

January 11th led to the death of Graham Paul Smith, 19, who was hit by a train whilst running away from police after an altercation outside a Lidcombe hotel. We await further details from the police.

Geoffrey John Fernando, 17, was also the victim of a high speed chase (lOOkph) in a stolen car. He died after the car hit a pole at Newtown on January 13th. He was not the driver.

The Watch Committee intends to call an urgent meeting with Commissioner Peter Ryan to further look at these incidents, as our death rates for high speed pursuits are climbing to the intolerable levels of those in W.A.

We believe these deaths, and, sadly, more to come, are totally avoidable. Unfortunately we also believe that the National Deaths in Custody Summits arranged by Senator Herron are wrongly structured and will give no positive outcomes. Rather it will merely attempt to shift the blame, first to the States/Territories and ultimately to Indigenous peoples themselves.

For further information please contact Ray Jackson on (02) 9264 9895.

Press Release - Bring David Home!

Press release***Press release***Press release

AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT MUST ACT - BRING DAVID HOME
Friday 19 January 2007

Supporters and campaigners for the repatriation of David Hicks demand that the Australian Parliament seeks David‚s immediate release and repatriation, and to reject the kangaroo court set up by the Pentagon which could see another 2-3 years of challenges in US courts.

Bring David Home campaigners are calling for a Canberra Convergence on the opening of Parliament on Tuesday 6 February at 11am on parliament lawns.

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Mental Heath Fact Sheet

Beyond Bars

There are many people in prison in NSW who have some form of mental illness.  This fact sheet examines why people with a mental illness are sent to prison and the problems that arise from the incarceration of those who are have mental health issues.

What is a Mental Illness?
The term ‘mental illness’ is very broad.  It covers a diverse range of health conditions relating to somebody’s psychological state.  Depression and schizophrenia are some of the better known examples of mental illness.  It is useful to note that the definition of mental illness is fluid.  It has changed frequently over time and is influenced by various social and cultural trends.  Some behaviours that would have been diagnosed as mental illness a decade ago would not necessarily be diagnosed in the same way today.

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Life sentence

The Persecution of the Diagnosed


This is Aboriginal Land. This is Aboriginal Land. Indigenous Cultural Respect, Land Rights & Peace.
*Warning: Medical terms may cause offence! We’re not dissing you. Just talking about the situation.

“Whenever I go to jail, I get put in a strip cell in underwear and injected with Largactil” Ex-prisoner with historical diagnosis of schizophrenia. (Largactil is an old-style heavy-duty anti-psychotic with drastic physical and mental effects, also known as “chemical straitjacket”)

On the “outside” is a social justice emergency damning people with psychiatric, intellectual, neurological and developmental diagnoses and difficulties (PIND D&D) to poverty, homelessness, the removal of rights, institutional abuse and being capsicum sprayed by the police.

Like other oppressed groups, our life is criminalised by the injustice of law.

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The Community Policy

New South Wales Australia
September 1995

ADOPTED BY:
AIDS Council of NSW, NSW Users and AIDS Association, Hepatitis C Council of NSW, The Gender Centre, Prisoners Action Group Justice Action, Aboriginal Deaths In Custody Watch Committee

ENDORSED BY:
National Centre in HIV Social Research, Macquarie University, Redfern Legal Centre, Drug Law Reform Committee, NSW Council for Civil Liberties

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