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Criminals face losing car to pay defence costs
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Criminals who owe millions of pounds in legal aid will have their cars seized under new powers being unveiled today. Less than a fifth of the money owed to the taxpayer in legal aid contributions from crime lords and wealthy offenders is recovered. Last year alone, just £1.8 million of the £10 million courts said should be paid back was handed over. Legal aid in criminal cases is automatics but is means tested and those who have sufficient funds are expected to make a c

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Jail phone jamming ‘may hit public’
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People living near jails could have their phone signals accidentally jammed under proposals to stamp out the illegal use of mobiles among prisoners, it

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More offenders to meet their victims under plan to expand restorative justice
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Details of how encounters will work to be set out in new clause of the crime and courts bill. More offenders will have to meet their victims and apologise

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Guest blog

Justin Rolliins
Ex prisoner, Author, Artist

‘The Unit’

If you are not too familiar with the prison system I will let you in on a little bit of knowledge. Some might think of prison blocks filled with cell after cell, landing after landing, barbed wire fences and 30ft walls.

If this is your thought or vision then to a certain degree you are surely correct. But deep behind the razor wire and concrete walls lingers another tomb for the grey track suited convicts.

Welcome all to the Health Care Unit.

Some how I don’t know how ‘health’ or ‘care’ fit into the title.

This unit is meant to hold psychically ill prisoners, but through my dreadful experience it mostly holds mentally unstable individuals.

Apart from ‘Big Jim’ with gangrene in one of his legs and a ‘Jamaican Yardy’ shot in a south London shoot out. The place was filled to the rafters with the sort of characters you may find in a classic Hollywood film based on a lunatic asylum, only ten times worse!

Whilst talking on my past criminality and destructive years I have often described myself as spending time in a mental institution.

This may have not been Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane, but believe me half of my fellow prisoners were heading in that direction.

What really is the difference between a prison health care unit and an official hospital for the criminally insane?

Maybe in a secure hospital you were fed better food, or maybe you could spend more time out of your cell?

Now if it was a secure hospital, I am sure that the level of mental illness would determine who you were kept with.

But on the health care unit you are all thrown into one big hell hole.

So there I was a messed up 18 year old boy self harming due to the distress of finding myself with a heavy prison sentence to serve, trapped alongside adult paranoid schizophrenics and psychopathic category A murderers.

How I survived in that devils nest I don’t know, maybe it was the medication pumped into my body by the doctors that blocked out my reality.

But in reality I was lucky to survive amongst such dangerous and unpredictable lost and deranged men.

After one of the robots malfunctioned he tried to stab me with half of a sharpened ‘tuna can’ you would of thought I would have been moved by the suited and booted educated doctors.

Some times I sat there in my depressive state wondering who was really the mad one, me or the doctor?

To give you an idea of my fellow mentally ill neighbours you had a ‘long bearded paranoid schizophrenic’ who had stabbed a lady 77 times, Richard had butchered then cooked parts of his best friends arm, Ned hanged himself whilst covered in his own faeces and an Irish prisoner, called Ward had sliced his own throat.

This isn’t a script for a horror movie, no this is reality!

Now, if you were not strong enough; you would never survive this environment and I believe 80% of well prisoners that lived in this environment for long enough would actually leave unwell.

Now I was a lucky one, I left damaged but not deranged.

Say I left the latter, say I followed my fellow nutters, say I got sectioned all of those years ago.

If I turned around in a counselling session whilst sectioned under the mental health act that ‘in fact the prison system were partly to blame for my mental health issues’.

What would happen then?

My guess is my dose of mind numbing medication would have been near enough doubled.

‘How dare mentally ill criminals talk out against the system’.

I will tell you this for nothing, you may of snatched the brains of many men that you threw into the ‘off key lion’s den’.

But you never snatched mine!

So a prison health care unit may not be an official secure hospital for the criminally insane, but believe me there are little unofficial ‘Broadmoors’ up and down the country in every Her Majesty’s Prison.

You may witness the odd clip of a prison unit on the news or in a gritty documentary but for one reason or another the cameras are never aloud down stairs towards the Health Care Unit.

I’m pleased to say that I know longer live a criminal lifestyle and I have left my days as a HMP health care unit patient, I mean prisoner long behind me.

I mean I sometimes get the odd flash back but hey that’s life. You just find a way to blank it out, chin up and move forward.

Yeah move forward…….

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