Media Releases

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.

Discovering Balance Conference

Message to Discovering Balance Conference, Perth October 2, 2008.

Justice Action shares the lessons it has learnt following Critical Resistance in San Francisco, ICOPA X11 in London, and the Victory at Long Bay in the prison hospital, Sydney.

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Sex Offending

Sex Offences: hysteria v reality

This issue exposes the contradictions of personal behaviour, commercial interests and government responses like no other. Justice Action has for many years defended the apparently indefensible, embraced the most reviled, and feels that handling this issue properly will lead to a reconsideration of community values on punishment. The furore around Ray (Dennis) Ferguson has given us the focus.

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Prisoner Voting Rights_310807

FofE.jpgVoting Rights for Prisoners report 2/07

In Aug 2004 Federal Parliament restricted the right to vote in Federal elections to those serving sentences of three years or less.

Now the coalition has barred all prisoners from voting in federal elections with the introduction in late 2006 of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act.

There is no evidence that disenfranchising prisoners deters crime or assists in rehabilitation. It is more likely to increase alienation and disengagement from mainstream society and any sense of civic responsibility.

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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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The Community Policy

New South Wales Australia
September 1995

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

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

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