Vulnerable mother took her own life
compiled from various sources
4WardEver Campaign – 7 February 2009
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The brother of a Blackpool woman found hanged in prison today slammed the jail as “disgraceful” and called for an official investigation. Lisa Marley, a 32-year-old mother from South Shore, was discovered hanged in her cell at women’s HMP Styal in 2008.
Her death devastated her family who are still struggling to come to terms with their loss. And now, after the death of Alison Colk at the prison, Ms Marley’s brother John Gunn has called for strong action.
Ms Colk was found hanging in her cell on January 8 at around 6.30am. Staff and paramedics attempted to revive her but she was pronounced dead 10 minutes later. She was not on suicide watch and the death will now be referred to the Prison Ombudsman.
He said sackings and even the closure of the jail should follow as the institution was not fulfilling its duty of care to inmates. Mr Gunn said: “The prison rang me and told us that another girl had taken her life. It’s very hard to take. “I don’t want this to happen to any more families.
“If it was any other area of business, people would be out of their jobs given their record. The people running the place have a duty to look after these girls, no matter whether they have committed crimes or not. “If they can’t do that they should shut the place down.”
The Ministry of Justice said it could not comment on individual cases or Mr Gunn’s comments. A spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with friends and family of Ms Colk.”
Ten inmates have died at HMP Styal since 2002. Ms Marley, who died on January 24 last year, was the second woman from the Fylde coast to die at Styal in the space of a year. Helen Cole, 48, of Belvedere Road, Thornton, was found hanged in her cell while held on suspicion of murdering her teenage son Andrew in May 2007.
An investigation into HMP Styal and Women’s Prisons – The Corston Review – which followed six deaths at the prison in a year, labelled conditions “disproportionate and unkind,” and called for a number of changes to the prison system. Mr Gunn, of central Blackpool, managing director of JG Aerials and Satellites, said his sister was a good person who had problems and was missed by all her family.
Ms Marley, of Lostock Gardens, who was held on remand on assault charges when she died, suffered from a “split personality”, her brother said. Mr Gunn, 44, added: “When it is all said and done Lisa had a hard life. She had problems, but she was a good person.”
Ms Marley was on suicide watch when she died. A spokeswoman for the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Too many vulnerable women with problems are sent to prison when they would be far better off if they were dealt with elsewhere.”Overcrowding is a problem too in prisons like Styal.”
In 2002/2003 six women died at the prison including Sarah Campbell, daughter of Cheshire lecturer Pauline Campbell, who launched a campaign for penal reform, protesting outside prisons following the deaths of inmates. Mrs Campbell was arrested during a protest about Lisa Marley’s death. The campaigner was found dead by her daughter’s grave in 2008.
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