Tributes in honor of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, who were killed in a terror attack on 2 December 2019 in London.

London Bridge Terrorist Attack Questions Prison Reform

By Elena Chernov

A Saturday afternoon on London’s Bridge quickly turned into a horrific scene of terrorism. Another terrorist attack gripped the nation once again. Two victims of the attack Cambridge graduates, Saskia Jones, 23 and Jack Merritt, 25 were killed and three others wounded.

Jack and Saskia were making a difference for prison reform. Jack was a course coordinator and Sasksia a volunteer for Learning Together a prison rehabilitation program.  

The bystanders showed great heroism and courage as they wrestled the attacker to the ground. One man used a fire extinguisher. Another a whale tusk from the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall. One of the bystanders who helped was a convicted murderer and was on day’s release. He was attending Learning Together.

ISIS said, “the attacker had carried out the attack in its name.” Also saying, “That he had done so in response to calls to target alliance countries.” The attacker was wearing a fake bomb vest. He was convicted of terrorism in 2012.

The attacker was a former prisoner. Usman Khan, 28 of Stafford, England released from prison last year. He was at the prison education program Learning Together created for former prisoners, by Cambridge University.

Furthermore, in 2010, he was part of a terrorist group that had planned to set up bombs in bathrooms in the London Stock Exchange. They also threatened to attack Boris Johnson, other public figures, and landmarks of London. 

Questionable Election

The U.K. has a monumental general election about to take place in two weeks. The attack raises many questions concerning prison reform. Mr. Johnson, the prime minister said on Saturday, “I have long argued that it is a mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early,”

Chris Phillips, a former head of England’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office made a statement. He said, “We’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.” He added, “We are letting convicted, known, and radicalized jihadi criminals walk about our streets.” 

The Parole Board overlooks risk assessments of prisoners. As a result, they decide who is released. They said, “Mr. Khan was released automatically on license without ever being mentioned to the board.”

Therefore, the Ministry of Justice has begun an extreme overview of all license conditions that released convicted terrorists from prison. The attack raised serious questions of the high risks in trying to rehabilitate convicted terrorists. 

Furthermore, David Videcette says, “Britain must look at sentencing and rehabilitation.” He adds, “We have a huge problem with terrorist prisoners that are being released.