Kay Danes

Families Behind Bars
Stories of injustice, endurance and hope

NEW - Revised and Updated Edit ion - July 2011

Real life accounts. Uniquely inspirational, shockingly heartbreaking. YOU will appreciate just how fragile our lives really are!

This is a powerful book for anyone who is considering travel or working overseas. It follows the heartbreaking journeys of families who's loved ones have been arrested, kidnapped, or simply disappeared. These families never thought such horrific circumstances could ever happen to them.  Travelling or living overseas can be exciting and rewarding, but can also carry potential risks. Each year, thousands of people require consular assistance from overseas missions.

This book covers topics that impact on whole communities.

  • How do you stay safe in a foreign environment (travel/business)
  • What do you do if you fall foul of the law?
  • How to engage the right legal support.
  • Understanding the judicial process and its effect on the detainee and their family.
  • What is a fair trial?
  • Is the sentence fair (sentence equivalency)?
  • What are the rights of a detainee?
  • Kidnap, hostage or disappearance... what should your loved one do?
  • What are the pitfalls of doing business overseas (licences/corruption/extortion)?
  • How does a foreign judicial process work in relation to companies and individuals?
  • Trade practices; are there any protections for investors?
  • What should investors know if they are going to a foreign country to do business?
  • What mechanisms are in place to transfer the prisoner? (Prisoner Transfer Agreements)
  • Why these PTA's are essential: (access to family, culture, language, education programs that support rehabilitation, appropriate medical care)

    All this advice and more is discussed in detail in this book.

With arm chair critics a plenty, there will always be varying opinions on a person’s guilt or innocence, but everyone should be dealt with justly, in a fair and transparent way. The legal, human and civil rights of a human being ought to be stringently defended. After all, the very concept of justice is not about what he said or she said but rather, it is about the law.

Families Behind Bars is fascinating, terrifying and heart wrenching. It is a poignant wake up call for everyone. It is about the resilience of families who endure despite the odds.

Revised Edition is Available from July 2011

Look inside this book


Choices: life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect

2 Negotiating the minefield: valuable information for families

3 Bad things do happen to good people: Kay and Kerry Danes, Laos

4 Holiday of a lifetime: Schapelle Corby, Bali 

5 Where is daddy? Jody Aggett, Thailand

6 Gone without a trace: Sheng’s story, Laos

7 Dicing with the death penalty: Australians in Bali

8 Shirley’s anguish: Alan Hodgson, Ghana

9 Proof of life: Mohamed Abbass, Egypt

10 No time for second chances: Michael Connell, Thailand

11 Do you know where your kids are? Rachel, Hong Kong 

12 Morocco madness: Kelly’s brother, Morocco

13 Death for 250 grams: Scott, Thailand

14 Madam Gin Gin: Mrs Outachin, Laos

15 Trading lives: David Hicks, Guantanamo

16 Invisible bars: Belmarsh 12, UK

17 It’s only prescription medicine: American grandmother, South America

18 My brother Brad: Bradley Peake, Australia

19 Fallen angel: Rachel Sachs, Vietnam

20 Zambian orphans: Gilbert Mwamba, Zambia

21 Keeping the promise: Eugene Debruin, South East Asia

22 Our right to human rights: they affect our everyday lives

23 Exonerated: Rickey Johnson, USA

24 Waiting for a reprieve: Linda Carty, USA

25 Do the courts always get it right? Harry Bout, USA

26 A mother’s love lights the way, Patricia Gerber South Africa

27 Justice for Jock, Jock Palfreeman, Bulgaria

28 Hope, the key to endurance

Campaign links are provided after each chapter.

ABC Radio Interview with Kay Danes and ABC host Kate O'Toole.

July 2011 - Mornings With Greg Carey
& Kay Danes

Annie Warburton chats with Kay Danes.

13/10/2011 , 6:47 PM by Paul McIntyre

Last night on Statewide Evenings Annie Warburton spoke with Kay Danes - an Australian woman who, many years ago, was locked up in Laos on trumped up charges. Since being released Kay spends her time writing and helping other Australians in prison overseas and their families.    

At present Kay is involved in the 'Free Jock' campaign- a campaign designed to raise awareness of the plight of Jock Palfreeman - a young Australian currently serving twenty years in Bulgaria.

Free Jock Palfreeman: Click here

Radio National Breakfast interview with ABC Host Michael Wood -13 October 2011
(Talking about Australians detained in Bali, Indonesia)
Click here

Questions & Answers

What research went into Families Behind Bars?

Families Behind Bars is based on over a decade of my own personal case work as an advocate for the Foreign Prisoner Support Service. Each story brings forth a snapshot of some of the most tragic cases I have been involved with, both in Australia and throughout the world. During this time, I have built strong relationships with numerous human rights groups and those that provide a vital service to prisoners and their families. I have also worked extensively with foreign security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. So the research that went into this book is extensive and covers a broad range of issues that affect families in specific circumstances, generally crisis situations.

Why did you decide to write Families Behind Bars?

Following my return home to Australia, having endured almost a year of unlawful detainment in a foreign prison, I began receiving pleas for help from families who had loved ones in prison overseas. All were desperate for answers on how to cope with foreign legal systems and governments that seemingly had no commitment to upholding human rights.  I wrote this book for all those families who needed to have their voices heard; and to provide an important point of reference for anyone facing a similar crisis.

This book covers a broad range of topics that impact on whole communities. Most importantly I wanted to remind people that no matter who we are, the principle of rights and justice are worth defending. We are sometimes very quick to judge others. We condemn them before we know the facts or truth about a matter. With arm chair critics a plenty, there will always be varying opinions on a person’s guilt or innocence, but what is worth remembering, is that for a society to remain humane and righteous, for the sake of protecting the integrity of society, it becomes vital that a person is dealt with justly, in a fair and transparent way. That the legal, human and civil rights of a human being are stringently defended. After all, the very concept of justice is not about what he said or she said but rather, the moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, and equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.

How did you go about revisiting many of the people serving time in international prisons?

I travel extensively so its not that difficult to access prisons. I also have direct communication with many prisoners families who continue to keep me abreast of their situation. I receive letters from prisoners all over the world. At times it is difficult keeping up with it all but I have a great network of support myself, so generally those who support families of prisoners tend to help each other carry the load.  

How does Families Behind Bars provide hope?

Hope can mean many different things to many different people. Some hope for good health and prosperity, others simply hope their children will do well in school exams. Most of us hope that bad things won’t happen to us or to those we love and, if they do, we hope that despite the difficulties, we will endure. When we experience fear we hope for courage and when we come up against the seemingly impossible, we hope that we can overcome it. Our hopes are often born amidst our darkest moments when we, consciously or unconsciously, take that very first step away from our problems. Hope whispers to us that the struggle we are facing is not hopeless, we just need to trust ourselves to find a way through, whatever it is that is threatening to overwhelm us. Families Behind Bars provides hope - in that each story shows a family's courage and that nothing is impossible if we just believe in our capacity to endure and overcome.

Are there any special acknowledgements you would like to make?

I really want to acknowledge the support that I am given from my family, particularly my wonderful husband Kerry, our three children, Jessica, Sahra and Nathan. I would also like to salute all the humanitarian organisations, their volunteers, bloggers, individuals, forum administrators, civil libertarians, human rights lawyers and devoted advocates who selflessly give up their valuable time to assist families and their loved ones through difficulties, especially those representing such groups as the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, Cage Prisoners & Hhugs, Prisoners Abroad (UK), Fair Trials International, Amnesty International, Innocence Project, Prison Fellowship International and Reprieve. Your services are vital to the international community.

Heartfelt thanks to my closest friends for always encouraging me, particularly Tony Fox, Martin Hodgson, Murray Kidd and Aaron Mangraviti.

Helpful advice if your loved one is arrested.

Politics and diplomacy play a large part in any prisoner’s life. Learning to understand unfamiliar systems and procedures can be distressing and frightening for both prisoner and their family. They need to know when to move, how to make that move, know what to say and how to say it most effectively. There is a general process that is set in motion whenever a person is arrested in a country other than their own. Foremost, the family of a prisoner abroad should familiarise themselves with the various protocols and policies relating to overseas internment. This book contains a great deal of information on those protocols and how best families should proceed. 

New Holland Publishers Australia
PH +61 2 8986 4700
Unit 1, 66 Gibbes Street, Chatswood NSW 2067 Australia

Martin Hodgson is a Senior Advocate for Foreign Prisoner Support Service with extensive experience, academic qualifications and knowledge of International Politics, Middle Eastern Affairs and Death Penalty Issues. He has been invaluable support to me personally and to many families who have loved ones detained in foreign prisons. 

'Ultimately I deeply believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the essential importance that all receive a fair trial, are equal before the law and are treated humanely during their incarceration.'- Martin Hodgson, Senior Advocate FPSS

Banged Up Abroad: Lessons for the Traveller. Click here

Stephen Kenny

Lawyer and winner of the 2010 prestigious Justice Award for his commitment to promoting access to justice, particularly for social and economically disadvantaged people.

"Most of us lead quiet, peaceful lives in our safe suburban surrounds. On occasions however, individuals can find themselves trapped in a terrifying situation beyond their control, where their lives may be at stake. In moments like this, we are prone to making promises about things we will do should we ever become free of that situation. For those lucky enough to be freed and allowed to resume a normal life, many simply put the drama—and their promises behind them. A few, however, keep their promises. Kay Danes is one of those people."

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