Displaying items by tag: Prison Service
The head of Iran's prison service has apologised after hackers leaked videos showing the abuse of detainees at Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The security footage showed guards beating prisoners and dragging one along a floor. Mohammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi said he took responsibility for the ‘unacceptable behaviour’. Many political prisoners and dual and foreign nationals are held at Evin. BBC's Jiyar Gol says the leaked videos confirm decades of reports of mistreatment and abuse at prisons across Iran. Also, former political prisoners say the footage is nothing compared to what they experienced in detention. They accuse authorities of routinely using sexual, physical and psychological torture - a charge Iran's government denies. The hacked screen showed the message, ‘Evin Prison is a stain of shame on Raisi's black turban and white beard’ - a reference to Iran's new president, who is a hardline cleric and former judiciary chief.
Pastor Paul Song was a volunteer prison chaplain at HMP Brixton for 19 years, bringing many to Christ. In 2015, a Muslim imam became senior chaplain and placed heavy restrictions on the pastor's ministry, eventually banning him from the prison without explanation. Numerous other Christian prison volunteers leading Alpha courses, Christian drama courses, prayer groups and other vital ministries were banned from the prison. After taking the Ministry of Justice to court, Pastor Song was promised he would be allowed to return. But then he spoke to the media about the reality of Islamic extremism and radicalisation at HMP Brixton (see). As a result, he was suspended from prison work for ten years. He sought a judicial review of this decision on 12 January. At the time of writing the outcome is not known.
Chaos in the wings, lack of respect from management, and absence of support are among the reasons for the surge in prison officers resigning. 33% of outgoing officers in the past 12 months had been in the service for less than a year, prompting concerns that the crisis in UK jails is being exacerbated by dwindling retention rates. Critics of the system say that the new officers are not adequately trained and are forced into challenging and sometimes dangerous situations before they are prepared or equipped to do so, leading to them quitting within months. Rory Stewart, the minister of state for justice, said recently that ‘drug-fuelled prison violence is affecting up to 20 jails’: see Also a recent BBC report stated that hundreds of prison staff have been caught smuggling banned items into prisons. The Prison Officers Association said the value of the drug market in jail is around £100m. Low-paid staff are enticed and paid handsomely to smuggle drugs. See
Chaplains at Pentonville, one of London's biggest prisons, were forced to run for their lives after a fight erupted at a worship service. A new report by the Independent Monitoring Board stated, ‘There has been an increase in gang-related incidents during gatherings for prayer. On one occasion, a fight erupted and ministers had to run for cover. On another occasion, a prisoner was knifed as he entered.’ Thirty staff were assaulted in just two months at the prison. The report warned that drug trafficking, violence against staff, declining job training and ‘inhumane conditions’ are major problems. Although Pentonville had many energetic and committed staff there were too few officers for most of the year. Wings were shut down for three or four half-days a week, activities and association time were restricted, and some prisoners went weeks without exercise in the fresh air. See
‘Preach the Word, but if you want to preach the whole gospel of God, the state wants to shut you up. Rev Barry Trayhorn, a Pentecostal minister, worked in HMP Littlehey, a prison for male sex offenders. Barry provided music, ministry and sermons at the chapel service, which prisoners could choose to attend or not. During a service, he quoted from memory 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and then continued, ‘You may want to complain about this, but this is the Word of God. God loves you and wants to forgive you.’ A single complaint was put in by one of the ‘cross-dressed’ prisoners to the equality and diversity officer of the prison, saying that his human rights had been violated by the preaching. Barry lost his job, went to the Employment Tribunal and then an appeal tribunal, but lost his case. The judge questioned whether 1 Corinthians 6 should be preached in a prison chapel service.