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News Round-Up Week Ending 17.7.15

(Posted on 17/07/15)


Man Convicted of Journalist’s Murder Appeals:

Brian Meehan, jailed for the 1996 murder of Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin, has applied to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice, according to the Irish Examiner.

Meehan is serving a life sentence after a 31-day trial before the non-jury Special Criminal Court in 1999. His legal team alleges new evidence emerged in the course of the 2001 trial of John Gilligan, described by the Irish Independent as the man who got away with Guerin’s murder.

Meehan's application will be heard in November.

Gove: Prisoners Should Earn Release Through Education

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has said society is to blame for the failure to "redeem and rehabilitate" offenders, and has called for an end to the "idleness and futility" of prison life, the BBC reports.

In a major change from current policy of release on licence halfway through a sentence, release could be “earned" through education and qualifications.

"No government serious about building one nation, no minister concerned with greater social justice, can be anything other than horrified by our persistent failure to reduce re-offending," Gove, the former Education Secretary, said. "In prisons there is a literally captive population whose inability to read properly or master basic mathematics makes them prime candidates for re-offending. Ensuring those offenders become literate and numerate makes them employable and thus contributors to society, not a problem for our communities.”

"The challenge now is to translate this marked new reflective tone set by the Justice Secretary into sensible policy and to create a just, humane and effective penal system," responded Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust.

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, cautiously welcomed the proposals but said "the devil will be in the detail".

"I've been around the prison system a long time, in excess of 25 years, and I've heard all of this rhetoric before over 25 years and it's always failed,” added Gillan. "Now in order to make it work there's got to be clear policies, a clear understanding and the resources given to it to make it work."

Gove also suggested ageing Victorian prisons should close, being "out of date, overcrowded and, in far too many cases, insanitary and inadequate".