Elizabeth Fry “the angel of prisons” came to
Jersey in the 1830’s. She stayed at Caledonia Cottage in St Aubin.
As the daughter of banking parents (Gurney and Barclay) and married to a banker and tea dealer – Joseph Fry – in the modern context of the finance world she would seem like the perfect immigrant in a community obsessed with recruiting “high net worth” newcomers.
In fact, her husband’s banking business went bust and he was left as the tea merchant side of the more famous and successful W.S. Fry empire.
remained financially secure. Elizabeth
Elizabeth did what immigrants are generally discouraged from doing today – she interfered in local politics - particularly with regard to the appalling conditions in Jersey’s prison. Of course, prisons were her speciality campaigning cause in and beyond, but she was from a family of Quakers and such reforming motivation was in her blood – and spirit. England
By 1837 Elizabeth’s campaigning locally and at Westminster had resulted in the construction of a new Jersey prison – so she understood all about innovation, how to attract funds, gain support and to achieve results…
Today there were two scrutiny hearings taking place at more or less the same time.
On one side of the
corridor Senator Maclean – the Minister at the Economic Development Department (EDD) – continued where Senator Ozouf had left off a few days ago. They were both selling the latest “Innovation Fund” brainwave to the Scrutiny Panel of Deputy Luce and Constables Pallett and Paddick. States Building
It was like a version of Dragon’s Den except that the game was to give away £10 millions of publick money
(with more to follow) to likely business ventures.
Except that Ministers Maclean and Ozouf and their supporting teams of civil servants stressed that the aim was to give loans for new ideas, new products, or new methods that would create “local” employment as well as a return on investments…
Nevertheless, it was admitted today, that in comparable schemes elsewhere, up to 70% failure rates could be expected. Only 30% of “new” ventures would probably succeed.
Across the corridor, Advocate C. Fogarty was appearing before the Education & Home Affairs Scrutiny Review Panel on the Mental Health treatment of Prisoners - and what could possibly be the connection you are no doubt asking?
Well, it was quite extraordinary – because Advocate Fogarty – a Jersey lawyer for 15 years and within the Jersey legal system mush longer and the daughter of a
Jersey psychiatrist - also had awareness in her blood and she seemed to be speaking exactly the same words as Elizabeth Fry, nearly 200 years ago.
In fact, dressed in her severely black legal robes she actually looked like a reincarnation of the campaigning Quaker!!!
Now it seems, the facilities at La Moye and throughout the system of detention, care, custody, treatment and advice in
Jersey are wholly deficient for those people with mental illnesses who might have been arrested charged and/or convicted of criminal offences.
“The lunatic cells are only suitable for violent, incurable or outrageous patients…an entirely different arrangement and mode of treatment is indispensable…it is a lamentable fact that in this enlightened age, there can exist in a Christian country possessing so many advantages …there is no public provision for the treatment and cure of persons labouring under that most melancholy of…mental aberrations… whatever their sex or condition, other than cells suited only for the worst criminals.”
So there is the challenge – are those the words uttered in 1833 or those mouthed today before the Scrutiny panel? Can you tell the difference? Has anything really changed? Do we as a community even know or care?
That Advocate Fogarty is engaged at Strasbourg (ECHR) regarding the detention of a female minor at La Moye (see previous posting on this blog 16 December 2011) should come as no surprise because the failure to separate adults from children (etc) was among Elizabeth Fry’s complaints too.
It is also somewhat startling to hear a Jersey Advocate in 2013 accusing the Jersey Department of Health for being in contempt of a Jersey Royal Court Decision by failing to remove a convicted person to an appropriate
place of treatment and safety – as Ordered. UK
So what are we mere mortals supposed to make of such behaviour? What do the other 250 or so Jersey lawyers make of all this?
Meanwhile, it was a point of some curiosity across the corridor that “Innovation funding” might be available to public authorities – not just private applicants or “third sector” bodies. How might one government department award start-up funding to another?
When leaving the meetings (they both ended at about the same time) yours truly asked Minister Maclean if an application for funding for better “mental health provision” would be considered by the “Innovation Fund” managers.
He replied, why not give it a try or something similar.
But, presumably since the defect has been known for over 200 years it would not pass the “newness” test.
Perhaps somebody can investigate further…perhaps Elizabeth Fry can make an application…perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Deputies Maçhon, Tadier and Constable Le Trocquer constituted the Mental Health Treatment of Prisoners Review Board.