The ICC has been campaigning on areas of concern when addressing the problems and needs of Muslim prison inmates, for more than a decade. It has made representations to the Home Office's Prisons Department to seek changes in the 1952 Prison's Act and in the improvement of existing practices. Central to the Centre's demands has been the appointment of Muslim Advisor at the HQ Chaplaincy by the Home Office. Our campaign has included the submission of proposals by the Islamic Cultural Centre's Prison Affairs Coordinator, Mr Bashir Ebrahim-Khan, to the former Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Howard, the former Minister for Prisons, Ms Joyce Quin. Meetings were also held between Mr Richard Tilt, the Prison Services Director General, and the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre at the Mosque, together with the intervention of Lord Avebury and Lord Ahmed. Our efforts, have, at last, brought success wit the current Minister of Prisons, Lord William, announcing in early December 1998 his decision to accept our demands for a Muslim Advisor to be appointed by the Home Office Prisons Service at the Chaplaincy Headquarters.
A historical perspective presents a serious indictment for the Muslim Community and if we are caring and sensitive enough, then funding will be necessary to forestall some of the harsh realities. A detailed and meaningful programme is vital and urgently needed.
General Prisoners Profile
The general prisoners profile is as follows:
- Large majority are young people.
- About 25% are drug related.
- Basic level of Islamic understanding is extremely low.
- Many prisoners complain about inadequate legal representation.
- Many young offenders blame their predicament on uncontrolled and undesirable association.
- There is a general lack of direction from parents, Imams, and Islamic Centres leaders.
- A very high level of social deprivation leading to educational under achievement.
- A general cry for help!
The ICC has, in cooperation with the Government Prisons Advisor, has worked closely and provided help when sought. The ICC has also been very active with Prisons Committee and has organised many visits to the prisons. Some of the activities of the ICC in the prisons are as follows:
- Organising Jumu'a prayers.
- Distributing newsletter and books.
- Providing prayer mats.
It is also our intention to:
- Help raise the proficiency and knowledge of the prison Imams.
- Organise Islamic courses for prisoners.
- Educate Prisons' staff about Islam and Muslim to create a better integration and understanding between the prison's staff and the Muslim inmates.
- Increase the circulation of the ICC's publications and Newsletter to all prisons.
- Initiate and run a welfare and educational program for after the release from jail.