It's come to my notice that there's a new kid on the block. A brand new venture that's sprung up concerning itself with everything to do with imprisonment or denial of liberty in its widest sense.
Some readers might recall the amazing, but sadly short-lived success of Prisoners Families Voices, a website that provided a platform for highlighting issues associated with our prisons and which in particular made for some very uncomfortable reading amongst probation staff. From what I can gauge, this new venture seeks to do something similar, but rather more extensively with the benefit of some very clever software that can garner information, facilitate discussion and ultimately inform campaigning on a wide range of penal matters.
If successful, one can imagine it will ruffle feathers in a number of quarters and it will be fascinating to watch what happens. The site does require membership and payment of a small fee will prove a barrier for many, but further down the line I guess this could change with advertising or sponsorship if the idea proves to have legs. I hope they don't mind my republishing their first blog which explains what they are about:-
We launched our company/website at the law society on the 18th of August as many of you might know, and those of you that don't please visit our website on www.boltsandbars.co.uk. To say that events have been smooth sailing would be a massive understatement, however we will persevere and we will achieve our targets and eventually our long term aim. We will stand the test of time.
We are not just about prisons or prisoners we are about everyone who is detained and by virtue of their detention is restricted in their access to the law, to justice and sometimes to the systems and processes which are supposed to assist them or their families. PEOPLE, HUMAN BEINGS who are in such places as IRC's (Immigration Removal Centres = Prison), STC's (Secure Training Centres = Prison for children), YOI's (Young Offender Institutions = Prison for young adults), HMP's (Men and Women/sometime pregnant = Prison), NHS Secure Units (hospitals = prison), and Mental Health Facilities. Many are not convicted criminals, they are patients, or refugees, or asylum seekers, however whoever they are they ALL deserve access to Justice and access to the law!
There are many forms of prison as we believe prison is not just a physical environment it is also a frame of mind, depending on your take on it.
"Who are we" is something many people have asked us since in their view we 'appeared' on the scene. Well to answer that question, we are simply a bunch of people who are in the main educated in life's hard knocks causing us to become motivated to raise awareness of the issues as we see them and affect change through the pro-social model of debate and comment co joined with a forthright direct approach to finding solutions and bringing those models to the attention of those with the ability to affect real change.
Usually someone who has been in prison answering that question in this context (blogging for a reform group) might say "we are mostly ex-offenders", but I won't. The reason is because whilst most of us are that is not WHO we are...for most of us could not be defined as career criminals or people whose lives involved the revolving door life of contact with the police, crime and prison, but it is true some of us are convicted killers, or convicted of conspiracy to murder, one of us was a fraudster (I say was as we dismissed him - and yes for gross incompetence, negligence and fraudulent behaviour). Despite that we still believe in equality, diversity, redemption, atonement, the fundamental good in everyone, no-one is born bad, everyone deserves a second chance etc etc...
What they may not know is some of us have no criminal history. We pay our taxes, and we have not just appeared on the scene. In fact we have been on the 'scene' for over 40 years. We have a wide knowledge base and vast experience of the issues we are attempting to address, we have taken a topical company from start up to spectacular success according to one government agency, until another ex government employee stole all the money (another story for another time) and we will do it all again. Many have tried and are trying to thwart us, they are the inefficient in the systems, the incompetent, those whose practice is questionable on a good day, those who have created a 'kingdom' for themselves and don't want their world disturbed as they have power and influence by virtue of the fact they have the ear of the power brokers...but therein lies the rub, and hopefully people like Cameron and Gove are as bright as they appear and will see through that. There are Charities and Organisations that have been 'working' in hand with the state for so many years, decades in fact, and yet NOTHING has changed. People die in our institutions, people are abused in our institutions, staff are untrained, they are under educated in subjects such as MH awareness, psychology etc, but also in concepts such as Redemption, Atonement, Forgiveness etc, complaints statistics are up, deaths are up, sick days off are up, JR spend is up, legal aid is a subject worth it's own focus - so many issues and we do have some of the solutions at Bolts and Bars but 'they' are holding us back from reaching those we need to speak with.
So we created the website for YOU to have your say directly. To comment as every institution has a message board for you to post comments. There are live discussion rooms where you can raise issues, complain anonymously for your friend, spouse partner without him/her facing a backlash in the institution, we will ensure it gets to the attention of the man at the top. GO direct to your MP from the site, so much access via our site... take a look , what have you got to lose. NOTHING you can only bring positive change...try it and see...Go To Our Website