The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue December 2010

Pagans not getting a fair crack of the whip

From Mark Stewart – HMP Elmley

I applaud Jamie Fullerton (November issue) for raising the issue of people being afraid to criticise Islam. I also strongly believe that everyone should be allowed to freely practise their religion, but that the Prison Service, in particular, does seem to pander to the needs and wants of Moslems over other religions. Whilst at HMP Stafford I worked in the kitchen, which laid on special meals for Ramadan, etc, but, as a Pagan, when I asked if we could do something for Samhain (the Pagan Festival of the Dead, when the veil between the worlds of life and death are thinnest) which is also believed to be the Celtic New Year, also known as Halloween or All Hallows Eve, I got a plain ‘No’ from the catering manager. There were two Pagans working in the kitchen and neither one of us was allowed to celebrate our religious festival. It seems the Prison Service only listen to those religions that have the most numbers or whose followers are the most vocal and likely to cause trouble.

There is a perception amongst most people that Pagans are devil worshippers, etc, but that is so far from the truth. I am an earth loving person who thanks Mother Earth, spirits and ancestors for what I have today. I do practise witchcraft, but only for good. At the heart of the Pagan/Wiccan practise is the Wiccan rede ‘An it harm none, do as you will’. I believe that what you give out you gets back 3-fold, so I only do good. I would be interested to hear from other Pagans about their experiences in prison and how they may have been sidelined and marginalised in favour of the more ‘popular’ religions.

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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for December 2010
IPP to be ‘Significantly Reformed’
Subjective evidence is not sufficient for a safe conviction!
Boxed out of society
RIP - Reg Johns
Cell clearances
Court of Appeal Vetting System
Listener’s room
Inter-prison phone calls
Votes For prisoners? Who cares?
Indefinitely maybe!!!
Only a matter of time
George Michael – nice guy
Make them pay!!!
Revenge is easy by law
Bullied by psychology
‘The probation service just isn’t working’
Historic Cases
Where’s my free Nintendo?
Lack of compassion
Blackmailed Into a guilty plea
Call me Mister
Open University and the internet
Current page: Pagans not getting a fair crack of the whip
Disabled in Long Lartin
‘Inappropriate behaviour of some male staff’


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> Treat Prisoners as Human Beings, Not Criminals
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> Month by Month - December 2014
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> Time
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> Take your first Steps to Success in 2015
> Spotlight Police and Crime Commissioners
> From over the wall
> Over-tariff IPPs: an appeal for your stories
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