Thursday 4 August 2011

Ill Prisoners

Regardless of what an individual has done, to deteriorate in a prison compromises his/her dignity. Debilitated as Brendan Lillis is by Ankylosing Spondylitis, his health should not be a political issue. He is a very ill human being, and should be treated as such.

Compassionate release entails remaining on licence; this is not freedom. David Ford seems to have taken substantial efforts to ensure his decision is the right one. No better treatment for Mr Lillis' condition is available outside of HMP Maghaberry, though all would agree that his own home, albeit on licence, would be a more pleasant environment in which to suffer. The judgement that Brendan Lillis is "dangerous", and therefore doesn't qualify for compassionate release is highly dubious. His suffering of Ankylosing Spondylitis is tragic, but the real tragedy is the finding of the Life Review Commission.

It begs the question as to whether the scope for compassionate release should be widened, facilitating the release of more prisoners who suffer from ill health. However, if so, the counter-question is: don't we want convicted individuals to fulfil their sentence?

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