Post by Lady Edwina Grosvenor. Edwina is a prison philanthropist in the UK, where she has founded One Small Thing to champion trauma-informed practice with criminalised women. Edwina is on Twitter @EdwinaGrosvenor. This is another post in our series responding to the current political climate. In it Edwina shares her views of the new US President and calls for collective action and unity. She also shares photographs she took of people at the Inauguration and at the Women’s March the next day.
It was dull and drizzly that day in Washington DC. It was my first visit and I think it would be fair to say it won’t be forgotten. As I watched the 45th President of America take his oath I couldn’t fight back the feelings of creeping nausea. What are we witnessing I thought? What are the ramifications for this? What does it mean for those in prison?
I think it would be safe to say that Trump isn’t good news for the justice system. His retributive stance, his seeming love of torture, his condemnation of Obama’s choice to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence all give us a good idea of the fact he stands so far to the right he is right out of the door!
The US Government has historically turned a blind eye to prisons. Two years ago I was in and out of the Californian women’s prisons only to learn that in the June after my visit Obama was the FIRST sitting American President EVER to visit a federal prison. This shocked me so much that when I was including it into a speech I was writing I had to go back and check I hadn’t made it up! It shows that even leaders as progressive as Obama struggled to prioritise this mammoth dysfunction.
Trump also appears to be hell bent on removing people’s power of free speech denouncing the views of scientists and climate change campaigners to the point where he has even shut down their Twitter accounts. Even NASA now has a rogue account (do follow).
What we are witnessing is criminal leadership. It infuriates me to the core that people are routinely locked up all over the world many of whom haven’t done things even half as dangerous as Trump has. They have their liberty removed whilst the leader of the free world dismantles the world as we know it.
It does however make me think about the UK system and UK leadership. It certainly makes me relieved to be British and not American. Even with the problems we have today, we do have leaders who know what the right thing to do is. They do not support capital punishment, they are not removing women’s rights to their own bodies, they are not removing our freedom of speech, they do, I believe, have empathy and I just hope that when they glance over the pond that they really recognise what a dangerous and deplorable man Donald Trump really is.
I have been in America for a month now and I write this on my final day before flying home. I have learnt a huge amount in the last month. Far too much to write about. However, having attended the women’s march in DC the day after Trump’s inauguration, I have also learnt that we must not accept things we don’t agree with.
It’s time to shout louder, fight harder and prove to leaders that they cannot and should not trounce on everything we hold sacred. For now all I can do is wish America the best of luck. They will need it.
How to cite this blog post (Harvard style)
Grosvenor, E. (2017) What Trump Means for Prison Reform. Available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2017/01/what-trump-means (Accessed [date]).