Letters - 19 June 2020

From accepting death to 'Stirrings of the Heart'

Accepting death

Great letter from Sally Phillips (22 May). No public figure has dared to tell the truth about death. Death is an essential, implacable fact of nature. Where does the idea come from that no one should ever die? Why should humankind go on spreading across the earth, in billions and without limit?

Until we get back in touch with God and nature and accept death as our ultimate destiny, we shall never know any peace, spiritually emotionally or physically.

Peter Whitfield

Disparity in society

Although Malvern, where I live, is almost 100 per cent white, 370 people turned up for a Black Lives Matter rally on Sunday 7 June.

I was moved to share my experience of becoming a prison tutor in rural Suffolk in the mid-1980s. I was surprised to discover that half the prisoners were black and was told that it was due to the aim of ensuring that black populations in prisons did not exceed fifty per cent. This led to men being ‘exported’ from London jails. Since then I have been conscious of this disparity between the percentage of black men in custody and in society.

Fast forward to the present day and I am watching a recording of the 2 June session of the Justice Committee, concerning the impact of Covid-19 on prison and probation. Out of the blue, a Justice Committee member asks the panel if anyone can explain the ‘disproportionality’ of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) people in English prisons. No one replies. (There is one person who has shed light on this: David Lammy MP in the 2017 Lammy Review.) To me this is an equality issue, and something that should therefore resonate with Friends.

Melanie Jameson
Co-clerk of Quakers in Criminal Justice

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