Saturday, December 17, 2011

Justice for Joe Paraskeva

by New Worker correspondent
Joe's mother with Diane Abbott

LINDA MORGAN last Saturday, along with her MP Diane Abbott, led a demonstration to present a petition at Downing Street calling for justice for her mentally ill son, Joe Paraskeva, who has been given an indeterminate prison sentence.
 Joe was jailed after using an aerosol can and cigarette lighter to try to escape from a mental health unit in which he had been sectioned in October 2010.
 Even though Joe had no previous convictions and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, he was sent to prison, and his family have no idea when he might be released.
 Joe was recently transferred to the John Howard Centre forensic unit in Hackney, but his mother fears he may be moved back to prison at any time.
 The 6,000-signature petition calls for Joe's case to be reviewed, for his conviction to be overturned and for him to receive proper care, as a mental health patient, within the NHS.
 Just before the event Ms Morgan said: "We are going to Downing Street today not only to campaign for Joe, but to address a huge injustice in both the NHS and the criminal justice system.
 These failings allow the most vulnerable in society to be punished rather than helped. Prison is not a safe or therapeutic environment for people suffering with mental health problems and should not be used as a dumping ground.
 Joe's case is only one example; there are many other families out there who have been through similar experiences. Anyone who has a mental illness deserves to be safely cared for, not thrown into prison."
 The Justice for Joe campaign is being supported by a number of major mental health and criminal justice organisations including, Sane, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, The Manic Depressive Fellowship, YoungMinds, The Howard League for Penal Reform and The Prison Reform Trust.

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