Suicide man saw death-row video

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The Independent Online
A REMAND prisoner at a privately run jail was found hanging in his cell within hours of watching a rented video about a death row inmate being sent to the gas chamber.

The coroner at the man's inquest yesterday expressed concern that inmates should be allowed to watch films showing prisoners awaiting execution.

Michael Arliss, 31, died in Doncaster prison shortly after watching The Chamber, a film based on a John Grisham novel. Mr Arliss, who was charged with murdering his girlfriend, had been on remand in the prison for seven months when he was found dead on the morning of 24 March last year.

Jail staff described him as a model prisoner. He was not considered a suicide risk.

The Doncaster coroner, Stanley Hooper, said: "I am concerned about the fact that entertainment ... [of this type] ... should be shown to prisoners. I will write to the Home Secretary because I'm told there is no nationwide policy about what is shown in prisons. I will ask that consideration be given to some sort of restrictions on what is available, not least to men and women on remand for charges of murder."

Doncaster prison is a private jail run by an American company, Premier Prisons. It has category B status and houses 1,100 inmates, some of whom have been sentenced and others who are on remand.

Kevin Rogers, the prison director, said he had no power to censor which films inmates watched, although pornography was banned. "If the film was about making bombs, guns or escape plans I might be able to stop it because it posed a threat to prison security but I am not in a position to censor ordinary films even though I am a prison governor," he said.

The jury returned a verdict that Mr Arliss, who had intended to plead not guilty to murder, killed himself.

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