A striking look at the UK justice system – podcasts of the week

Prison Break
Josie Bevan’s Radio 4 series and podcast, Prison Bag, charted her family’s unexpected and traumatic experience with the UK penal system following husband Rob’s conviction for fraud. This striking and honest follow-up considers the justice system more generally, and what it seeks to achieve. Insights come from the likes of Carl Cattermole, who wrote a book about his experience in Wormwood Scrubs and describes prison as a “static pirate ship”, and Dave Merritt, whose son Jack was killed in the London Bridge terror attack in 2019 while working with ex-offenders.
Hannah J. Davies

Letters From A Killer
What’s more compelling than a true crime yarn? Writing letters to death row criminals and building their trust to find out what’s going on in their heads. And so begins a new podcast examining just that. First in line is bank robber Jose Sandoval, who claims he wanted to kill as few people as possible but still get the job done. A tinkly but tense piano soundtracks his words and it’s tough to listen to his inventive confessions (“I knew God had my back”) as he paints himself as a man of mercy – but it’s certainly gripping. Hannah Verdier

Chosen by Elena Morresi

An intimate and nuanced take on the painful reality of racism, poet and presenter Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr’s podcast makes an effort to shine a light on lesser known acts of black resistancein the US. The podcast kicks off in October 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed. The production team introduces 22-year-old Chi Ossé, a BLM protester, and his journey into politics; Kelly standing up for her partner while he is in jail; and Mwazulu Diyabanza fighting to reclaim artifacts stolen from Africa. En diciembre, Saidu put his family’s life in the spotlight, re-releasing his award-winning audio essay, Borders Between Us, on his mother’s move from Sierra Leone to America.

All episodes feature poignant track choices and impeccable research as well as a soft-spoken warning – words that shape a safe space for listeners to take in the spirit of resistance. A new episode was released last week, with Bethel Habte sharing the story of Jerome Smith, who took down segregated seating dividers on buses in the 60s.

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