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Wendy Young - disability arts online
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Inside Holloway - Channel 5 30/10/14 / 31 October 2014

Usually I try not to watch harrowing programmes or films before bedtime (bit difficult at the moment due to Art of Gothic series on the BBC!) but I was compelled to watch 'Inside Holloway' on Channel 5 last night.  Part Two of a two part documentary, it made for a disturbing, depressing insight into the world of a women's prison.

Ruth Ellis, the victim of a brutal, nasty, violent upper class man resorted to shooting him and in doing so was charged with his murder and hanged by the neck.  However, her case touched peoples' hearts and a public outcry led to Ruth being the last female victim of capital punishment in this country.  Below is an extract explaining how the 'establishment' viewed Ruth.  Obviously, they couldn't have some 'tart' killing one of 'theirs'!!

'It was in Holloway on 13th July 1955 that Ruth Ellis became the last woman in Britain to be hanged. In the press and in court, she was portrayed as a fallen woman – a peroxide blonde nightclub manager who had murdered her unfaithful lover David Blakely. As the law stood at the time, the judge had no option but to condemn Ellis, but the systematic physical and mental abuse that Blakely had inflicted on her raised public concern about the death penalty.'

No wonder women in those days were scared to act upon domestic abuse.  As still happens in some countries today, the victim would be treated as the criminal!

Some people may be saddened to know Myra Hindley, later proven to be manipulative and conniving,  just missed out on this punishment for heinous crimes to children.

One shocking revelation was that women up until the end of the 20th Century would be 'chained' when giving birth!

Another shocker is that they were almost spoon fed Largactyl.

'Conditions inside Holloway had begun to spiral out of control and powerful anti-psychotic drugs were used to sedate problem prisoners. By the 90s, conditions inside had hit rock bottom and changes were made with a new emphasis on education, cleanliness and purpose.'

It seems many girls/women are involved with the wrong men, come from poor backgrounds and many have mental health issues, addicted to drugs and alcohol - not surprising.  In fact, the old Holloway prison was levelled and replaced with a new 'villagey' communal setting with therapy and art rooms.

'However, three quarters of Holloway╩╝s inmates now suffer from a mental disorder, half are addicted to drugs or alcohol and two thirds are mothers.'

Ruth and the Girls

I try to imagine

Your world

My heart cries for you

To be incarcerated

Punished

Humiliated

For what not

Is always your fault

It's always the guilty who go unpunished

The soft and vulnerable who come undone

Seen as tarts, whores and slags

Druggies and thieves

Young slappers, old bags

One day we'll all be free

From injustice

From pain

I remain

Your sister insane