On Tuesday 17th January 2023, Richard, who is a member of the Nacro Justice ExChange attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Penal Affairs to speak about his experiences as a Black man in prison. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, and Lead Inspector Hindpal Singh Bhui presented their thematic review The experiences of adult black male prisoners and black prison staff which was published in December 2022.
Richard spoke to the Inspectors, MPs and Peers about the racism that he had experienced whilst in prison, and the difficulties he had interacting with, or seeking help from, Black prison staff due to perceptions that this indicated corruption on the part of the officer. Richard also spoke positively about opportunities to cook together and share meals in prison, as sharing food and culture can lead to the breaking down of barriers between staff and people in prison and create a culture of respect and understanding.
After the event Richard said “it’s important for people with experience of the system, people like me, to have our voices heard in places of power. A special moment for me and a great opportunity”
How was the review into racism in prisons done?
The prison inspectorate interviewed 100 black prisoners, 17 key managers (including governing governors), and 66 other staff of all ethnicities. It found that that divisions between black prisoners and white prison staff were entrenched throughout the prison service, and black prison staff reported very negative experiences at work. Fundamental to these divisions were a lack of trust and communication. While inspectors found evidence of overt racism, both black prisoners and staff told the review that subtle and insidious racism affected them more and that this was widespread and persistent.
Nacro’s work on racism and disproportionality in the justice system
Nacro has published various reports looking at racism in the justice system. We worked as part of a coalition with the Criminal Justice Alliance, looking at how 10 clauses in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would deepen racial inequality in the criminal justice system, and without evidence that they will reduce crime or improve public safety. We have also produced reports such as one into race, mental health and the criminal justice system, looking at the challenges in providing mental health support to people from Black, Asian and other marginalised communities who have been in contact with the criminal justice system.
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