Press Release: Issued 7 December 2011
London mum takes battle for imprisoned bipolar son to steps of number 10
Saturday 10 December 2011 - A mother, who is campaigning for justice for her 21 year-old son, will present a 6,000 strong petition to 10 Downing Street today, calling for his case to be reviewed.
Linda Morgan, from Stoke Newington, set up the campaign after her son, Joe Paraskeva, was given an indeterminate prison sentence in April 2011. He was jailed after using an aerosol can and cigarette lighter to try and 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 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.
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 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.
Notes to Editors
The petition will be presented at 10 Downing Street at 3.00pm on Saturday 10 December 2011. The target of 5,000 signatures has been exceeded and reached almost 6,000.