In 2018, David Blagdon was released from prison. Years of appeals, judicial reviews and public petitions had failed to persuade the relevant bodies that he was not a threat to the public. However, aged 67, in a wheelchair and suffering from glaucoma and prostate cancer, David was finally moved to a care home in Somerset. He had been in prison for 34 years for setting fire to a pair of curtains.

How someone can spend over half their life in prison for an act of arson, which injured no-one and caused around £1,000 worth of damage, seems incomprehensible at first glance. David’s story is a litany of missed opportunities, bad decisions and a lack of appropriate support. When David started that fire, both his parents had recently died and he struggled with coping mechanisms and potential mental illness—when arrested, he himself described the fire as a ‘cry for help.’

Systemic failures
Mental health support, addiction services, and rehabilitative activities are shockingly underfunded and badly coordinated in our criminal justice system. If David had received the right support, at the right time, he certainly would not have been in prison for over three decades. David’s story is an example of systemic failure.

Read the full article about systemic failure in the criminal justice system by Theo Clay at NPC.