Charles Cowling


Many celebrants will have had the experience of welcoming a convict at a funeral, together with the prison officer to whom he/she is shackled. Do, please, share your experience in a comment.  

In Australia, belt-tightening has led to a review of the cost of this service to the banged-up bereaved: 

The Department of Corrective Services plans to save more than $500,000 by allowing prisoners to virtually attend funerals streamed on the internet instead of transporting them to the service in person.

There is opposition to this, especially in the cases of Aboriginal prisoners, for whom attendance at funerals is a cultural obligation. 

The Inspector of Custodial Services, Neil Morgan, has some interestingly critical things to say, especially about virtual attendance. There are people out there who think that virtual attendance is the future of funeralgoing. It’s possible that, before long, bereaved people will be facing pressure from their workplace to pop into a quiet room, follow it on their iPad and get back to their desk. Here’s Mr Morgan:

“There can’t be closure to a person’s death until there’s been a physical attendance. You don’t attend virtually in my view, you either attend or you don’t. Have you ever given a hug to anybody over the internet? If you skype with people it’s nice to see them but it’s actually also sometimes quite distressing and difficult; there’s no physical contact available.”

Full story here. Hat tip to Beverley Webb. 

6 thoughts on “Screw says no

  1. Charles Cowling

    I have sympathy for Neil Morgan’s view but two of his statements seem to be opinions stated as facts:

    “…there can’t be closure to a person’s death until there’s been a physical attendance.”

    I’d say that depends on the person grieving and their worldview.

    “You don’t attend virtually in my view, you either attend or you don’t,”

    Slightly crass example, but this for me is like saying there’s no point watching a football match unless you’re at the ground. Watching it on TV doesn’t count.

    If you can physically go to a funeral, you should. But if you live on the other side of the world or are too ill to attend, surely a virtual funeral has to be better than not taking part in any shape or form.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

    Why bother to let them ‘pop into a quiet room, follow it on their iPad and get back to their desk’?

    Let the scivers watch it on iPlayer when they get home, and not waste any of the company’s preciou$ time. There lies the future.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Belinda Forbes

    Not all prisoners are given permission to attend funerals. I’ve had people tell me that a prisoner has applied to attend and on the day they haven’t been there. Where the prisoner is allowed to attend, it is for the benefit of the rest of the family as well as for the prisoner – I’ve seen relief and delight on their faces when they see their relative at the ceremony (albeit handcuffed to a prison officer). And they’re not allowed to attend the reception afterwards! Although I’ve known a few to ask!

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Ru Callender

    An outrage to deprive anybody of the right to attend the funeral of a family member. Totally barbaric.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    Gotta be there. Making the effort is an important part of that. Bearing witness. Standing together. So with you, Kathryn.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Kathryn Edwards

    Am so with Mr Morgan: you were either there, or you weren’t. That’s my perspective as a ritualist.

    As for the inhumanity of a ‘corrections’ policy imposing this deprivation: well, it’s No to that, too.

    Charles Cowling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>