Prison Is A Second Home To Catherine
But we mustn’t feel sorry for her as Catherine, a solicitor with Gullands of Maidstone, has chosen the life which is mapped out before her.
Her job now is to respond to complaints made by prisoners, visit them in jail and represent them in the best way she can.
“When I entered the legal profession I wanted to help people, particularly the most disadvantaged people in society,” she said.
“We all have rights and prisoners are entitled to have those rights protected. They don’t have a voice as we, who enjoy the freedom of the outside world, do, and I want to be that voice for them.”
Catherine’s services are becoming well known to the prison population of the south east. She advertises in the prison newspaper Inside Times and whenever inmates feel they have a just case regarding their treatment, they can apply to see Catherine and ask her to present their case.
“Sometimes complaints are frivolous but, in the main, prisoners only complain when they feel they are being genuinely hard done by,” said Catherine.
Sometimes, when a prisoner has been released on licence after completing half their sentence, they are recalled for extremely minor reasons.
“They can be recalled just because of a rumour regarding their behaviour and it is then that I step in to present their case. I also represent prisoners when their cases are put in front of the Parole Board, mainly in the case of longer sentences and, in some cases, life sentences.
“If people break the prison rules, perhaps for drug offences or having a mobile phone, they are given extra days which are added to their sentence. I make sure that any punishment imposed is fair and justified” said Catherine.
Catherine knows that some people regard her as a ‘bleeding heart’ but she has always had a social conscience as demonstrated by her charity fund raising for Shelter and Barnardos.
She runs marathons, her latest being the Rome Marathon on March 16 where, with the help of her office colleagues, she raised more than £700 for Oxfam. She completed the course in four hours, two minutes and 59 seconds.
John Roberts, Partner in charge of the Criminal Department, said: “It is not often that a solicitor opts to specialise in Prison Law. It is a demanding role but Catherine’s own personal ethos of caring for the underdog means that she is very successful in what she does. Everyone is entitled to the protection of the law, even those who have been sent to prison.”
Last word from Catherine: “I love my job and find it very rewarding.”