Angela Davis, the US political activist and academic, said in her book Are Prisons Obsolete: “On the whole, people tend to take prisons for granted. It is difficult to imagine life without them. At the same time, there is reluctance to face the realities hidden within them, a fear of thinking about what happens inside them. Thus, the prison is present in our lives and, at the same time, it is absent from our lives……The most difficult and urgent challenge today is that of creatively exploring new terrains of justice, where the prison no longer serves as our major anchor.”
This is the second time that VIEW has examined this issue.
Firstly though, I want to pay specific praise to guest editor Sid McDowell and NIACRO (formerly Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders). Without their invaluable support this issue of VIEW would not have seen the light of day.
We have tried to provide a broad range of voices that look at crime and justice issues, including alternatives to imprisonment, rehabilitation initiatives; measures to try and assist victims of crime, and lastly but not least, the voices of some former prisoners on what life has been like for them since being released from custody.
I am particularly delighted to have secured an interview (pages four and five) with Professor Phil Scraton from Queen’s University. Prof Scraton’s research includes the investigation of and inquiry into controversial deaths, most notably the Hillsborough disaster on April 15, 1989, in which 96 Liverpool football fans were crushed to death.
His views on justice, rehabilitation and prisons deserve to be widely read and shared.
This issue of VIEW is a particular milestone as we have now created 50 issues of the magazine.
It’s been a fascinating journey as we have attempted to shed a light on a wide range of social affairs issue.
I will end with a quote from the journalist Glenn Greenwald: “A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark, and informing the public about those acts.”