For much of its 135 years, Scotland’s largest prison has operated in the shadow of its own fearsome reputation. Glasgow’s Barlinnie, “Bar-L” to those who reside within, became synonymous with violence during the 20th century in much the same way as the city it was built to serve.
A dearth of data makes it difficult to understand the causes of racial disparity in the criminal justice system – a disparity that has created a ‘trust deficit’ for black and minority ethnic defendants.
‘It was me against them… I didn’t trust anyone,’ says Suleman, an Asian Muslim man, summing up his experience of Crown Court. ‘I didn’t see anyone with a common background… judges and magistrates, they were the last people I trusted – elderly, white English people and that’s not what I see in society outside.’