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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why Siâni's smiling!

I received a bit of news that put a smile on my face late last night. As regular readers of this blog will know, I'm a big fan of Dead or Alive frontman, Pete Burns. [To the sad little twits who leave me vile comments on the rare occasions I mention his name here, fire away. Your comments will be rejected at a single mouse click]. Anyway, what you may or may not know, is that this summer, Pete spent a couple of months in jail, after breaking bail conditions relating to a pending trial on harrassment charges.

I heard last night, via his official website [see above link], that the trial, scheduled for September 25th, will not be going ahead. All charges have been dropped. This must be fantastic news for a man who is currently rebuilding his life, after suffering a nervous breakdown. By the way, nothing I refer to here comes from tabloid tittle-tattle, but from the man himself, via his website.

Pete Burns's experience, to me, highlights a serious flaw in our criminal justice system. People suffering from mental illnesses are far too often imprisoned, when they should be receiving medical intervention. It is hard for a person whose mind is off-kilter, to plead their case. Even conferring with lawyers must be difficult, if not impossible, so they have little chance of avoiding the prison system. There should be an alternative to imprisonment in such cases.

I think the real issue is that a multi-agency approach is required, with greater co-operation between healthcare providers and the criminal justice system at its core. The current system allows for non-dangerous, mentally ill people to be unnecessarily incarcerated and traumatised, whereas the truly dangerous and homicidal, are often left to roam free, unsupervised, with truly awful consequences. But it's so typical of this country, to get everything so utterly back-to-front.

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