Thursday, October 16, 2008

GARTH DANIELS - Forensicare lab rat

Garth Daniels was forcibly removed, under hails of protest of family and friends from the Alfred Hospital to a mental health prison which is by definition for the criminally insane. He is therefore currently a prisoner, like every other prisoner in the Thomas Embling Hospital except for one distinct difference. He has not been charged much less found guilty of any crime. And certainly not the crimes committed by those he is now surrounded by. Garth Daniels in not a serial killer, rapist, hasn’t killed his family, isn’t a paedophile, he is not a sadist, he is nothing that is in the Thomas Embling except that the doctors at the Alfred & Maroondah have arbitrarily sent him there. And the “system” has allowed this outrage to happen to an innocent person.

The Thomas Embling Hospital is a 100-bed secure hospital, based in Fairfield, Melbourne and is primarily for patients from the criminal justice system who are in need of psychiatric assessment and/or care and treatment. It is operated by Forensicare, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health. However its management is with GSL.

Who is GSL? According to their corporate profile, “GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd was established in 1994 as Group 4 Correction Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of UK - based Group 4 Securitas. In 2000, the business was renamed Group 4 Falck Global Solutions, when the parent company merged with the Falck Group. In 2004, following a further merger (this time with Securicor), Global Solutions Limited was created when the businesses in the UK, South Africa and Australia were demerged from the parent company. At this time GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd (GSL) was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Solutions Limited.”

GSL is owned by the Dominic Shorthouse London based investment firm and private equity fund Englefield Capital. Shorthouse has an illustrious history in investment having come from the carnivorous US private equity giant Warburg Pincus. The other private equity partner involved in GSL was Electra Partners Europe recently renamed Cognetas. They sold their share for a substantial profit at the end of 2007 back to G4S (Group 4 Securicor).

GSL also run Port Phillip Prison, Mount Gambier Prison, South Australia Prisoner Movement and In-Court Management, Prisoner Transport Services in Victoria, Hospital, Security at Wilfred Lopes Centre for Forensic Mental Health and Electronic Monitoring Services in South Australia

Interestingly enough the profile goes on to claim that “We (GSL) are accountable for delivering the letter and the spirit of our contracts and for doing so within the requirements of all prevailing legislation. Honesty and integrity are our highest values.”

This is all well and good but Garth Daniels has no current or previous criminal charge against him, who is not a threat to society and effectively has found himself chucked into a mental health prison with truly insane criminals, I am not sure how that is either in the letter or spirit of GSL’s contract with Forensicare. Mike McCarthy, managing director of GSL in Australia does make great emphasis of human rights-

“GSL is committed to promoting best practices in human rights policies, procedures and practices. Our policies are guides by human rights and individual freedoms.”

Having allowed Garth Daniels to be forced against his will, the will of his parents who also hold not just guardianship but the power of medical attorney, against the state legislation set out in the sentencing and criminal acts of Victoria and against the recently introduce Charter of Human Rights in Victoria, then what Mike McCarthy is sprouting is absolute bullshit.

Make no mistake, without one scintilla of criminality; Garth Daniels has been forced into a mental health prison. In there, the doctors can administer any drug they deem appropriate, place him in solitary confinement and generally place him with any other prisoner they wish.

These include the possibility of sharing with Nigerian-born CENSORED who tried to wash off his victim's blood with his own urine. Maybe CENSORED-- who stabbed his mother 57 times. By definition alone Garth Daniels has been deliberately placed into a dangerous situation as he is surrounded by those labelled criminally insane. Not to mention that the doctors at the Thomas Embling have no need to follow treatment plans, management plans or whatever you would like to paint it as. They can, at their own discretion simply force Garth to have any drug they wish. If they wish to place him into a clinical trial they can do that as well. But,Garth is NOT A FORENSIC PATIENT so the carte blanche protocol of the Ethics Committee to conduct research (experimentation)does not apply.

Thomas Embling prison for the criminally insane is set on 8.4 hectares, with a wide expanse of open space. In 2004 there was a report commissioned to deal with the facility’s deadly snake problem. Thomas Embling is set in among natural parks and by all accounts in becomes a snake infested hell during Spring & Summer as Tiger snakes appear like a biblical curse from drains, potholes and every nook and cranny. Probably not as dangerous as those snakes in a white coat but certainly not exactly adding to the charm of the place. On the other hand with such heavy medication being doled out who would really give a shit about Tiger snakes. Tiger snakes possess a potent neurotoxin, coagulants, haemolysins and myotoxins and are amongst the deadliest snakes in the world. Symptoms of a bite end up with numbness and sweating, followed by a rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. On the other hand we are talking about the overmedicated inmates of Thomas Embling, so how could you tell what was snake bite and what was treatment?

In 2006 a nearly 600 page Senate report into mental health facilities, particularly those associated with the penal system came under scrutiny. It was said in this unflattering report,

Involuntary treatment and seclusion-

13.105 Involuntary treatment of prisoners raises human rights concerns: Thomas Embling Hospital (TEH) also provides involuntary treatment of prisoners with mental illness, as under mental health legislation Victorian prisons are not able to undertake such treatment. Victoria is of the view that involuntary treatment in risons without clear separation of custodial and treatment requirements is contrary to the principles contained in the Mental Health Act and in breach of international human rights obligations. The report goes on to say

13.106 Professor Puplick told the committee that the incarceration of forensic patients in New South Wales is in ’clear breach of domestic legislation, the National Medical Health Forensic Policy and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights’

13.107 Professor Mullen, Clinical Director of Forensicare, stated that in the past, when it was possible to treat mentally ill prisoners compulsorily in gaol, medications had been used, not for treatment but for control and punishment. He stated that although there are many short-term solutions which may appeal, he hoped that the compulsory treatment of patients within prison would be resisted.

Yet here we have Garth Daniels languishing not just in a prison hospital but over the past years, at the whim and mercy (mercy is probably not the correct word here as collectively the doctors at Eastern and Northern health have shown very little towards Garth and his family) of being thrown into seclusion time and again. Now he is a prisoner without trial, charge or indeed any crime. And according to this 2006 Senate committee headed up by Senator Lyn Allison – is running contrary to human rights. What is more, this committee states clearly that incarceration makes the mental health of those forced into seclusion worse, not better. It is in every way a punishment not a treatment. And without a crime being committed and without a threat to society, one has to ask who is responsible for inflicting this punishment upon Garth Daniels?

The report states

13.38 One possible reason for the high levels of mental disorders among prisoners is the effect that incarceration, or the threat of incarceration, may have on them.

13.39 The committee took anecdotal evidence that institutionalisation itself and the control mechanisms within prisons adversely affect inmates' mental health. Particular mention was made of segregation units and safe cells.[Justice Action, claimed that it had evidence of prison-induced insanity.

13.40 The deleterious effect of incarceration was remarked upon by Butler and Allnutt in their study of mental illness among NSW prisoners: Incarceration results in the loss of many person freedoms taken for granted in the community, including social supports, inter-personal relationships, employment, social status, and social role. These losses are commonly correlated with depressive disorder. At the time of reception almost one-quarter were diagnosed with mood disorder.]

13.41 The committee has also noted a comment made in a submission from Professor Gavin Andrews, Scientia Professor of Psychiatry, UNSW at St Vincent's Hospital, which suggested that incarceration may be a factor in the incidence of some mental illnesses among prisoners. He submitted that: Anxiety and depression are three times more common among inmates than in the matched general population.

13.110 The process of isolating such persons and placing them in seclusion appears effectively to prevent suicide and may prevent disruption to other inmates, but is hardly therapeutic for people who are mentally ill. A former visiting general practitioner to the BWCC, Dr Schrader, made the following observations about the use of the isolation cells

The treatment is the opposite of therapeutic. The use of seclusion is inappropriate for those of risk of self-harm and suicide. Observation alone does little to help overcome distress and suicidal or self-harming feelings and is alienating in itself ... A key element in suicide prevention is the presence of human interaction.

13.111 The committee heard similar evidence about the use of seclusion facilities for prisoners assessed to be 'at risk' in other jurisdictions. Mr Strutt, a member of Justice Action, a prisoners' activism organisation, referring to the use of isolation cells in NSW, stated that:

If you are a prison officer and you see a prisoner who seems to be seriously depressed ... your No. 1 priority is to make sure that that person does not kill themselves while you are on duty. So basically you put them in a strip cell. For all the talk about care and attention they are getting in prisons and hospitals, the way those institutions are structured means they are not getting the appropriate care and attention.

Let me state this clearly. Garth Daniels is not being given the appropriate treatment of the mentally ill. He at every facility comes across indifference and entrenched institutional beliefs that to incarcerate him is to somehow believe he will be less trouble. From isolation wards at Maroondah, Alfred, Austin, Box Hill hospitals finally the doctors of these hospitals send Garth to the only place left – Thomas Embling Prison Hospital. What an absolute disgrace and blight upon the medical practices of this state and in particular the doctors who shame every Victorian into sharing collective responsibility to see an innocent man literally buried in the “system.”

Forensicare is headed by Clinical Director, Professor Paul Mullen and Professor James Ogloff as inaugural Director of Psychological Services, Forensicare and Foundation Professor of Clinical Forensic Psychology, Monash University. Professor Ogloff is one of the most prominent forensic psychologists in North America. Make no mistake the Thomas Embling Hospital is a research facility and they research on criminals who have no rights. Garth Daniels has already complained, to no avail to his father that the medications they are giving him are way too high. Yet his father who has the power of medical attorney over his son can do nothing to stop them from inflicting greater and greater quantities of drugs. Neither Garth nor his farther have rights in this matter. Because “Forensicare has developed a reputation for being a centre for research excellence.” Isn’t that spooky? It certainly does not bode well for Garth Daniels and his family.

In May 2006, only two months after the Senate Committee’s release of their damning assessment of how prisoners were being treated in Australia’s prisons and how prisoners became more unstable and more mentally ill by constant incarceration, came Rob Hull, Victoria’s Attorney General, that Victoria was to have a charter of human rights. In his press release Rob Hulls clearly trumpeted that,

“A charter of human rights will strengthen and support Victoria’s democratic system.” Garth Daniels, at present surrounded by criminal lunatics would beg to differ. He would also be questioning the veracity of this statement by Rob Hulls,
“Some important rights, such as freedom of speech and religion and freedom from forced work and degrading treatment, have no clear legal protection, “By enshrining our human rights in legislation, we can ensure that future governments continue to value the rights of all Victorians.” Mr Hulls said.

As Rob Hulls is more elusive than a tiger snake at the Thomas Embling, he is impossible to make comment with or to be involved in this case despite repeated requests from Garth Daniels’ parents. In almost every instance his Human Rights Charter has been cited yet one of its authors is nowhere to be seen. The Thomas Embling hospital since coming in to being 2000 has specialised in the following research-

• the link between criminal offending and mental illness
• risk assessment and predictions of violence/dangerousness
• stalkers and victims of stalking
• research into sexual offending
• study of persistent complainants
• psychopathology amongst female prisoners
• dual diagnosis and criminality
• epidemiology and phenomenology of uttering threats to harm others
• patterns of inpatient aggression
• a national mental illness prevalence study in the criminal justice systems of Australia for the Commonwealth Government of Health and Aging.

You read that and have to wonder who is kidding who and why exactly Garth Daniels has been sent to such a place. What a hideous nightmare Garth Daniels really has lived over most of his adult life. He has had the blunt end of doctor’s arrogance plunge him into such dark places. And every time you have to wonder to what end these decisions to imprison him have come about to the point we are at today.

Surrounded by the criminally insane, in a snake infested prison facility that is designed to have carte blanche access to mentally disturbed lab rats where doctors can “research” without fear of prosecution, malpractice or legal repercussions. A facility run by the largest multinational operators of private prisons in the world in conjunction with off shore investment bankers and equity funds. A place that where everybody is trumpeting human rights from the Victorian government, GSL and Forensicare and savagely trampling Garth’s on a daily basis.

If you read this and feel you can bring this to a broader audience – please help.