Its difficult to have any sympathy for a child who is arrested and then convicted of robbery with a knife, Lock them up, Tag them, capital punishment, stick them in the army, just a few things I have said as a father to my three boys, three boys who for most of there lives did nothing wrong at all.
Our oldest son is 23 and is currently awaiting a hip replacement on our crumbling NHS waiting lists, he had the accident nearly 2 years ago and we are still waiting, our youngest son has been mostly ignored, he is not a bad child, far from it, he does nothing wrong at all, but our middle son Craig, is a young offender, he is not one of these children who was in with the wrong crowd, my son was the wrong crowd.
We would sit at home worried about the fact he had to get a bus and a tube to school, we were terrified of them getting mugged, it was with absolute horror that we learnt that our son Craig hadn’t been mugged, but was in fact the mugger.
It was a very quick decline into suspensions, police visits, cautions and eventually, expulsion, its quite ironic that the Government go on and on about how parents will feel there wrath if they don’t get there kids to school, our son didn’t go for over 2 years and no one called, no one came and the one school we did go along to, I was called a white c**t by a pupil, so I decided that if the teacher couldn’t control this child, what chance did they have with mine.
My son has been in 4 jails in 2 months, he has been hospitalised 4 times, twice at the same prison, a prison were they held an internal investigation over my sons injuries and came to the conclusion that he was to blame, both his mum and myself were not invited and I am ashamed to say that even though my son was complaining about the guards, I didn’t listen, I wish I had.
On another visit to see him, we were told that it was going to be closed visit, no one had called to let us know and we were told that either my wife or my son was going to have to wait in the car, after a big argument we were ushered into a small smelly room with 3 inch glass between ourselves and Craig and to our horror our son was brought in with plaster of Paris on both arms, cuts on his face and a face filled with hate.
How could this have happened and we not be told, how can our son be hospitalised and no one called to say what happened, our son then told us that he had started a fire in his cell because the guards were antagonising him outside and he felt it was the only way to get them in, he was overcome with smoke and once again, no one called us.
I put up an almighty fuss and was told to leave the prison, I was told on the way out by a guard that my son ‘got what he deserved’ and that ‘we’ ( the guards) didn’t start the fire’These were trained people who were meant to be looking after my son, not abusing him.
My whole out look on prisons changed, I began to get this horrible feeling that my son may be in danger, I know that sounds like an over protective parent, but I know my son, I know what he’s capable off and he is not scared of anyone and if a grown man is going to be aggressive against my son, then my son will fight back, before he was jailed ( my son hadn’t been in trouble for 18 months prior to the court case) he had been accepted into the Irish guards, he had started college and was on a painting and decorating course, the judge ( who was deliberating over his last case) took none of this into consideration and jailed him and since the jailing, he has been hospitalised 4 times and this included 2 restraints by the guards, he has had his nose broken, this required surgery, and always seems to be in trouble, again I must add that he had not been in trouble outside the prison for 18 months, not once in all that time had he brought any trouble to our home.
I began to worry that there maybe major problems in the jailing of young people and I began digging.
In his 2 months in 4 young offenders units, my son has been restrained twice, resulting in injuries to his head and arms, he has had his nose broken, he was given Prozac by Ashfield YOI, even though the two non private prisons said there was nothing wrong with him, he has been involved in a fire in his cell, he has been moved with us being told and more to the point he received a forced strip search.
I saw my son 20 minutes after he was stripped by force and in my opinion, it was done for no other reason than a punishment, his arms were still red raw from were he had been held down, there were marks on his head from were his head was banged on the floor and he was upset, I was so upset, I had to leave.
2 days later I attended a meeting in the city were Mr Philip Wheatly was giving a speech on his guards and prisons, I told him about my son and he said we were unlucky, I found the mans remarks to be condescending and if this is the attitude of the prison guards boss, then what chance does my son have.
Guardian 28 November 2006