Good News for HMP Featherstone

In 2016 HMP Featherstone may well have made it onto Prison Minister Rory Stewart’s ‘Ten Worst Prisons’ list. Back then prisoners were locking themselves up in their cells to escape the escalating levels of violence.

However in a recent report Featherstone has come out shining, as one of the UK’s most improved prisons. Peter Clarke HM Chief Inspector of prisons called it a remarkable achievement in just two short years. The majority of prisoners feel respected and safe and prison guards are confident when dealing with inmates. There is a calm atmosphere in the prison helped by the good staff- inmate working relationships. The prison still needs significant refurbishment but the living conditions are bearable.

However the report is seriously concerned about the amount of drugs still getting into the prison and this is the biggest concern. Drugs are one of the main causes of prison violence, so to decrease violence stopping the entry of drugs into prisons is a priority for Prisons Minister Rory Stewart.

Apparently one quarter of inmates at HMP Featherstone have become addicted to substances whilst inside. Inmates say the drugs are readily available, especially the psychoactive substances, such as Spice. Peter Clarke called these a significant threat to prison safety. In 2016 only one fifth of inmates reported becoming addicted to drugs, so this is quite a big increase. Alongside the rise in drug addiction there has been a significant rise in self-harm being reported.

However, the jail has been commended for its improvements, and Rory Stewart commented that with predictable routines, good strategies and the right leadership any prison could be turned around and provide good outcomes for prisoners.

Spice, the Maker of Zombies

Spice, Black Mamba, K2, zombie maker, it has a hundred names for a hundred different and unpredictable chemical mixes. It is synthetic cannabis a dangerous psychoactive drug popular in prisons and readily available throughout the prison estate. The drug is also easily available on the outside, from street dealers and allegedly from under the counter at local shops. It can lead to a host of health issues, including intoxication, seizures, psychotic episodes, heart and kidney problems, and death.

Former addict Darren Marshall said Spice is much stronger then weed or cannabis and you feel the hit immediately. He said its about £10 a gram and that lasts a day, so the habit can get very expensive. Darren said Spice is a dangerous drug, it starts to turn people into ‘zombies’ they don’t know what they are saying or doing or even where they are. They can just lie in the street not caring. It’s a psycho active substance so it messes with the mind and you become paranoid, Darren said he would shout and rage for no reason, and he often thought of suicide, his personality was changing. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible, causing pains and vomiting and night sweats.

In prisons the widespread supply of synthetic cannabis is one of the causes of the massive increase in prison violence in the last few years and is a big concern of Rory Stewart, Prisons Minister. He said drugs in prison have been a “game-changer”, driving self-harm and extreme violence.

It is a constant battle to fight the drug supply and the dealers who bring it into the prison further destroying lives. New prison scanners have been introduced that can detect the psycho active substance on letters, sniffer dogs and extra guards are in place in many prisons. But the criminals who supply the drugs have ever changing means to evade the detection technologies, which means the prisons have to be vigilant in their efforts to decrease drugs in prisons.

Drone Alert!

Criminals are using more inventive and sophisticated technology to get drugs and other contraband into prisons. Some dealers are using expensive drones costing well over £1500 so it shows how lucrative the business of prison drugs dealing is. However, 29 year old Anthony Cheeney from Walton got himself a five year prison sentence for using a drone to attempt to drop class A and B drugs, phones and SIM cards into HMP Liverpool.

Detective Constable Chris Cook said that harsh sentences could be expected for those who attempt to smuggle drugs into prisons. He said the sentence should send a clear message to anyone trying to do this. He continued by saying any breach of prison security would be treated extremely seriously.

Phone Smuggling

Smuggling phones into prisons is highly illegal, it can add years onto a sentence for those caught with a mobile phone and result in a prison sentence for those trying to smuggle them in.

Connie Adams, sister in law of crime Kingpin Terry Adams is facing a jail term after allegedly trying to smuggle in a phone whilst visiting Adams with her daughter and grandchildren. She said she had forgotten there was a phone in her jacket pocket whilst other items were being scanned. Prison officials say this is an excuse often used by people trying to bring in phones and given the family’s history a highly unlikely story.

Adams who is now 60 has been banned from visiting HMP Franklin in County Durham for six months.

Modern Day Slavery

CoventryLive is naming and shaming criminals in the area who have been locked up this January! Included among them is rapist Robert Petre, 33. Petre met his victim in Romania in 2017. After a couple of weeks Petre forced her to move to Coventry where he made her work as a prostitute after raping her. He threatened to kill her children if she would not do as he said. Once in Coventry he kept all her earnings and she regularly suffered beatings and rape.

Petre fled to Romania after her escape but was extradited back to the UK in 2018. Petre was sentenced to 17 years in jail and found guilty of exploitation, controlling prostitution for gain, rape and assault. The judge recommended he also be deported back to Romania.

Det Con Kate Williams of Warwickshire Police said: “I hope this sentencing reassures other victims of human trafficking and modern slavery offences that police will take action. This was a challenging case and I would like to pay tribute to the victim who has shown immense courage throughout the investigation and trial. Her evidence was extremely powerful and highlighted the experience of modern slavery victims.”

Prison Phone, Keeping prisoners and families connected
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