Category Archives: prison industrial complex

Inside Britain’s Close Supervision Centres: Info Night

What: Bristol ABC is hosting ex-prisoner, Kyle Major, to speak at an event in September with the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee. It is about his experiences in a Close Supervision Centre; one of Britain’s highest security prisons.

Trigger warning: This talk will share experiences of abuse, assault, trauma and medical neglect in the prison system.

Where: Hydra Books, 34 Old Market St, Bristol BS2 0EZ

When: Thursday 20th September 2018 7pm

 

Sunday 18th February, Smash IPP infonight!

Aipp-bristol-2017s anarchists, we often have aims that seem unachieveable. A truly peaceful and democratic society? Maybe not in my lifetime. But sometimes there are differences that we can make. So if you’re tired of fighting uphill battles, Smash IPP has an idea for you. Thousands of people are serving IPP sentences with no release dates in UK jails. The law that put them inside indefinitely has been abolished, but they’re still in there, with the uncertainty having such a devastating effect on their mental health that over 50% of them self-harm. Come to Kebele Community Centre in Easton at 7pm after dinner to find out more about these forgotten prisoners and how you can help with the 2017 year to free all IPPs! We don’t see this as incongruent with our aims of prison abolition, more as a reduction of harm to vulnerable people. Anything that reduces the power and reach of the prison-industrial complex is fine by us.

Find out more at http://smashipp.noflag.org.uk/

18th November, protest against Close Supervision Centres at the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, London

The Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system is the English version of American supermax prison conditions, indefinite solitary confinement within the most oppressive and brutal environment found in this country, which can appropriately be called torture camps. Psychological warfare is used upon its victims on a constant basis, with frequent physical attacks supplementing the arbitrary punishment. As only around 50 prisoners fall victim to the CSC at any one time its existence is largely unknown even amongst the general prison population, so it is not surprising that the wider public are so poorly informed that almost no-one protests that taxes are being spent to torment vulnerable captives who are also British citizens. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of prisons (HMIP) is tasked with the role of reporting on all places of detention within the country, with a decreasing level of funding for the prison system whilst prisoner numbers continue to rise it is inevitable that more and more failings and inadequacies will be identified by them. Considering the CSC is the violation of international and European law, as well as being morally reprehensible for both its design and implementation, you would expect HMIP to dedicate its times exposing the secretive system with the goal of achieving its abolition but at least securing desperately needed reforms. When the entire prison system can be seen to be declining in the level of treatment it provides, it is obvious that those already at the harsh end will suffer the most. HMIP chooses to pretend that the CSC does not exist rather than tackle the deplorable, less attention is paid to the worst part of the prison system than any other which is simply inexcusable. Since I was first allocated to the CSC in March 2010, HMIP have only once ‘inspected’ the CSC. Although they were provided with extensive detail of the abuses which were taking place, they chose to omit all of the most serious and gloss over those that actually made it into the report. HMIP effectively endorsed the torture regime which had the obvious consequence of life on the CSC becoming more anguished, and have not even bothered to perform their mandatory follow-up ‘inspection’ to see the effects of their actions. The suicide of Joanne Latham (AKA Eddie Brown, AKA Edward Latham) on the CSC has been one of the direct results of the continuing deterioration, but also of the structure of the CSC itself which causes severe mental illness and exacerbates preexisting medical issues amongst its residents so much so that around 50% end up damaged to the extent it becomes necessary for them to be removed from prison to one of the high secure mental health hospitals (Broadmoor, Brampton, Ashworth). I sent a detailed complaint to HMIP after reading their cover-up report (http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/HMCIP_CSC_Report_2015.pdf) but received nothing more than a fob off in reply evidencing that their substandard work was intentional. Although this was done as a parting gesture from the departing Chief Inspector presumably to secure another governmental employment, the incumbent Chief Inspector along with the rest of his office have done absolutely nothing about it.

It is about time that HMIP learned they can no longer ignore the CSC system or be allowed to prop-up its existence with corrupt reports, the CSC has been in operation since 1998 and must be condemned as the abomination it is. To achieve this end, I am calling on every person with some level of compassion and humanity for their fellow man and all those disgusted at what their taxes are funding to attend a demonstration protest outside the offices of HMIP. This has been organised to take place on:

Friday 18th November 2016 from 12.30pm – 2.30pm at HM Inspectorate of Prisons, 6th Floor, Victory House, Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EX,

and all those unable to attend are encouraged to write demanding they address the CSC system immediately either directly or through their MP for greater impact. Support can also be shown as well as more being found out about the horror of the CSC by visiting the website WWW.JUSTICEFORKEVAN.COM, joining the group at www.facebook.com/justiceforkev, signing the petition on www.change-org/p/justice-for-kevan, or by writing to:

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE,
HMP Wakefield,
5 Love Lane,
Wakefield,
West Yorkshire,
WF2 9AG.

Dinner and infonight in solidarity with US national prison strike

On the 8th of September we are having a fundraising dinner and infonight in solidairty with striking workers who are fighting against the slavery of the United States prison industrial complex.

Come to Kebele Community Centre, 14 Roberstson Road, BS5 6JY, at 6.30 pm on Thursday the 8th of September for food and to find out more about their struggle. There will be a discussion with the importance of prisoner solidarity and the need for prisoners’ unions with Bristol ABC and members of the  Incarcerated Workers’ Organising Committee, who are involved in assisting with the prison strike from the outside in the US.

In the words of prisoners involved in the strike:

Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America. This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action. To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement.

This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.

For the rest of the callout and for more information about the strike, visit iwoc.noblogs.org and itsgoingdown.org

 

In Celebration of May Day

May 1st celebrates international workers’ day with rallies, marches and events staged by workers all over the world. Texas prison slaves join this celebration behind prison walls, in recognition that out of the death of plantation slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment, U.S. Constitution, was enacted in 1865 legislation legalizing slavery “as a punishment for crime”, becoming THE NEW JIM CROW of mass incarceration of the poor, mainly of PEOPLE OF COLOR who are disproportionately represented in the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex, a $2 billion a year industry sustained with forced labor of our nation’s prisoners without due compensation. It is this historical awareness that has become the motor force of prisoners in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, California, Washington, Oregon, among other states, of prisoners rattling their chains of slavery protesting inhumane prison conditions, institutionalized racism, legalized prison slavery and the repeal of the 13th amendment. The prisoners’ movement for human rights, and for human dignity do not end with admission into the prison system, for whatever reasons landed them in prison in the first place. Workers on the outside must support the just demands of all prisoners in linking these struggles – which are one and the same.

Further, this year also marks the 130th anniversary of the May 4, 1886 rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago, called to protest a police riot the day before. Socialists and anarchists joined hands in protest and were framed up and executed or sentenced to life in prison for the explosion of a police-planted bomb at the May 4th demonstration, to justify a police assault on the protesters and to repress the activists, and destroy their movement by use of extrajudicial means by the police. We celebrate the HAYMARKET SQUARE MARTYRS who were pioneers of the movement for the 8-hour work day, and who stood for workers’ rights.

TODAY, MAY 1, 2016, we urge all INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD to unite and to fight for a shorter work day, for better wages, working conditions and for other workers’ rights, until the ultimate abolition of wage-theft slavery of global capitalism, its imperialism and corporativist fascism, and for the universal emancipation of labor from the chains of capital, and our total social, human liberation as a free people, without capitalist slave masters with the means of production in workers’ total control.

WORKERS’ STRUGGLES, PRISONERS’ STRUGGLES, ONE AND THE SAME!
DEFEND WORKERS’ RIGHTS, PRISONERS’ RIGHTS!
INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
BREAK THE CHAINS THAT MAKE US SLAVES!

April 25, 2016
TEXAS PRISON
– by XINACHTLI
(Nahuatl for ‘seed’)
aka: ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ, #255735
JAMES V. ALLRED UNIT
SUPERMAX HIGH SECURITY CONTROL UNIT
IOWA PARK, TEXAS

Brussels: solidarity with 4 people charged with destroying the maxi-prison model

Via Contra-Info.

In its mad race for profits, capitalism throws more and more people into precariousness and makes our environment increasingly unlivable. Faced with scolding anger and misery sown into anything that goes, the state invests in maintaining order and builds new prisons.

At a time when the people are constrained to tighten their belts, the government finds billions to strain us even more by building high-tech prisons, where it experiments with new forms of torture (sensory and human contact deprivation)

For the ruling class, the advantage is twofold: the construction contracts provides its juicy profits and security apparatus, thereby ultra-developed, allows it to maintain its privileges and to perpetuate this oppressive and destructive system.

The federal government’s Masterplan foresees the construction of seven new prisons in Belgium. One of them, the maxi-prison, crystallizes opposition in recent years. The government plans to build this mammoth prison on the Keelbeek site, in Haren, located on the northern outskirts of Brussels.

A few statistics of the maxi-prison project:
# A capacity for 1200 detainees (men, women, minors and psychiatrised people)
# 19 hectares of nature and farmland concreted
# A 25 year private-public partnership which will cost the state more than €3 billion. That’s a minimum daily cost of €275 per detainee. More than €275 a day devoted to breaking a human being!
# A location far from the heart of Brussels, difficulty accessible for the detainees’ families

Since the announcement of the maxi-prison construction, the reactions are numerous. In Haren, the neighbourhood committee informs inhabitants and mobilises itself against the project. On the streets of Brussels, the maxi-prison revives anti-prison rage and well inspired groups strive to end the project through a series of direct actions. In Anderlecht, [Le Passage], a local space of struggle against the maxi-prison is open to inform, discuss and organise itself.

During the summer of 2014, the Keelbeek site was occupied to prevent the project’s progress. The Haren ZAD (Zone to Defend) was born. Among the tree houses and vegetable garden, the opponents experimented with another lifestyle, self-managed and solidarity based. The site occupation ended in September 2015, following the forceful eviction of occupants, conducted by Brussels police. But even today, a rebellious handful occupy a site adjacent to Keelbeek and several of Haren’s abandoned houses.

This growing popular unrest upset the government’s plans who let its pack of guard dogs loose in an attempt to stifle dissent. Numbers of struggling comrades experienced raids, tailing, wiretapping, intimidation and infiltration attempts. But faced with the determination and solidarity, the repression proves to be powerless.

On May 20th 2015, the consultation committee’s public hearing was held regarding the maxi-prison project in Haren. The committee’s opinion wasn’t even binding, the referendum farce didn’t deceive many people. The same day, around a dozen people therefore decided to express their opposition to the project, outside of Power’s marked paths, and manifest within the Building Agency. The maxi-prison model, exhibited in the entrance hall, is destroyed during the action.

This institution, the Buildings Agency, corrupted up to its neck, is responsible for managing the Belgian State’s property assets and coordinating the construction of new prisons. Without waiting for permits, the Buildings Authority tried to repeatedly start work on the Keelbeek site. But each time, construction machinery was fended off by opponents.

While its project is threatened from all sides, Power seizes this opportunity, in an attempt to weaken the resistance, and now four of us find ourselves on the judicial bench for “organised destruction of personal property”. This is the first trial of an action against the maxi-prison. Following a postponement, the first hearing is set for January 22nd 2016 in the Brussles Law Courts. For this type of act, the anticipated penalties range from 1 to 5 years imprisonment, while the Buildings Agency are claiming €40,000 in damages and interests.

Far from paralysing us, this trial is an opportunity to reaffirm our anti-authoritarian stance against all forms of power, whether political, media or judicial. They’re part of the problem, not the solution. And with your complicity, this trial will be another opportunity to throw some paving stones on the prison morass and to make slip a few cogs in the machine.

Let’s continue the struggle against prisons and the world they protect!

And to manage the legal costs, we also call for your financial solidarity.

If you collect a few coins by scraping the bottom of your pockets, or passing a collection pot at your activist meet ups, then thanks for bunging them this way: BE66 5230 4745 8943 (bank account number in the name of “soutien procès maquette” [model trial support])

Brick by brick
Wall by wall
Let’s destroy all prisons!

The four charged individuals

January 18th 2016

Image

Visions of Abolition Film Showing in Bristol

Film Showing Bristol

2 – 8 November 2015: Week of Action Against the North Wales Prison & the Prison Industrial Complex

Week of Action November EN Web

About the Week of Action

A week of action has been called to encourage people all of the UK & the world to take action against the construction of the North Wales Prison in Wrexham.

The prison will be the second largest prison in Europe, holding more than 2100 people and costing £250 million to build. Australian contractor Lend Lease was awarded the contract to build the Wrexham titan prison by the government in May 2014.

Local people have resisted the prison for over half a decade; objecting to planning applications, lobbying, going to meetings. Full planning permission was eventually granted in November 2014 despite local resistance. It is now a construction site and this place of abuse and oppression is being built as we speak.

Our aims are to resist it, slow it down and send a message to the state and the prison industry that it is not acceptable to profit from caging human beings. The Government wish to build more prisons in the UK, this is our opportunity to intervene and prevent this industry from expanding. We must take the offensive against prison expansion and the social control of our lives. We are fighting until all are free.

What is taking place?

  • Noise & solidarity demos at prisons all over the UK
  • Information nights, workshops & film showings to ignite more resistance to the prison industrial complex in the UK

The CAPE Campaign will also be supporting existing events taking place during the week including:

  • The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) Annual Procession on 31 October. The UFFC is a national coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals in the UK. Assemble 31 October 12Noon at Trafalgar Square for a silent procession along Whitehall followed by a noisy protest at Downing Street.

How to Get Involved

  • Contact Community Action on Prison Expansion – info@cape-campaign.org
  • Most people will be taking action locally, however we are organising transport and accommodation for people from further afield to stay in the North West. Please get in touch!
  • Tell us about something you are organising so we can help promote it

 

2 – 8 Tachwedd 2015: Wythnos o Weithredu yn Erbyn Carchar Gogledd Cymru & y Cymleth Diwydiannol Carchardai

Week of Action November WELSH Web

Am yr Wythnos o Weithredu

Dyma alwad am wythnos o weithredu i annog holl wledydd Prydain a’r byd i weithredu yn erbyn adeiladu Carchar Gogledd Cymru yn Wrecsam.

Hon bydd yr ail garchar fwyaf yn Ewrop, yn dal mwy na 2100 o fobol ac yn costio £250 miliwn i’w hadeiladu. Enillodd Lend Lease, contractiwr o Awstralia y cytundeb i adeiladu y carchar Titan yn Wrecsam gan y llywodraeth yn Mai 2014.

Mae pobl lleol wedi bod yn gwrthwynebu’r carchar ers dros hanner degawd;  yn gwrthwynebu ceisiadau cynllunio, lobio a mynd i cyfarfodydd. Caodd caniadad cynllunio llawn ei roi yn mis Tachwedd 2014 er gwaethaf y gwrthwynebiad lleol. Ar hyn o bryd mae’n safle adeiladu a mae’r man yma o drais a gorthrwm wrthi’n cael ei hadeiladu yr eiliad hon.

Rydym am ei wrthwynebu, ei arafu a gyrru neges i’r wladwriaeth a’r diwydiant carchar nad yw yn dderbynnadwy i elwa o gaethiwo pobl. Mae’r Llywodraeth yn dymuno i adeiladu rhagor o garchardai yng Ngwledydd Prydain, dyma ein siawns i atal y diwydiant yma rhag ehangu. Rhaid i ni ymosod ar ehangu carchar a’r rheolaeth cymdeithasol ganddo dros ein bywydau. Rydym yn cwffio tan bo bob un ohonom yn rhydd.

Be sy’b digwydd?

  • Protestiadau swn a cyd-sefyll ar draws gwledydd Prydain
  • Nosweithiau gwybodaeth, gweithdai a dangosiadau ffilm i gynnai rhagor o wrthynebu y cymleth diwydiant carchardai ygn ngwledydd Prydain.

Bydd yr ymgyrch CAPE hefyd yn cefnogi digwyddiandau sydd yn bodoli’n barod sydd yn digwydd yn ystod yr wythnos gan gynnwys:

  • Prosessiwn blynyddol United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) ar y 31ain o Hydref. Mae’r UFFC yn glymblaid cenedlaethol  o deuluoedd a ffrindiau y sawl sydd wedi marw yng ngofal yr heddlu a swyddogion carchar yn ogystal a’r sawl sydd wedi eu lladd mewn canolfanau carchardai mewnfudo (immigration detention centres) a ysbytai seiciatrig diogel (secure psyciatric hospitals) yng nghwledydd Prydain. Cwrdd am 12 ganol dydd ar y 31ain o Hydref yn Sgwar Trafalgar am brosesiwn tawel ar hyd Whitehall a wedyn protest swnllyd tu allan Stryd Downing.

Sut i Ymunno a’r Gweithgarwch

  • Bydd y mwyafrif o bobl yn gweithredu’n lleol, serch hynny rydym yn trefnu trafnidiaeth a llety i bobl aros yn y gogledd ddwyrain. Os gwelwch yn dda cysylltwch!
  • Rhowch gwybod i ni am rhywbeth rydych chi yn ei drefnu a gallwn eich helpu i’w hyrwyddo.

‘Prison As Political Battleground’ by John Bowden, radical long-term prisoner

Either as a political issue or personal experience prison repression isn’t something the radical left in Britain is particularly familiar with or much inclined to mobilise against. Prison remains largely a working class experience targeted against the poorest and most marginalised of that class. However in a society increasingly polarised and divided between rich and poor in a political climate of growing repression and authoritarianism prisons are being refashioned more and more into instruments of political as well as social control. This will eventually find reflection in the nature and composition of the prisoner population as political activists increasingly supplement the imprisoned poor.

What should characterise the behaviour and attitude of imprisoned political activists towards the prison system? How should those imprisoned for political offences against the system in the “free world” behave and respond once incarcerated in the Belly of the Beast, the steel and concrete innards of the state?

In Britain imprisoned political activists tend to view their time behind bars as a period of uneventful neutrality, as a passive killing of time before returning to the “real” struggle beyond the walls and fences that temporarily enclose them. Of course in places like Northern Ireland where conflict and repression was woven into the fabric of people’s lives prisons were not just a commonly experienced reality but also important political battle grounds in the struggle for freedom and liberation. For Irish Republican prisoners their confinement within the notorious H Blocks did not mean the termination of their struggle for Irish national liberation but rather an intensification of that struggle to the extent where their lives were sometimes sacrificed through hunger strikes. Like imprisoned revolutionaries in fascist states throughout the world Irish Republican prisoners responded to prison repression just as they had responded to repression in the broader society, by resisting and fighting back. They believed it their political duty as revolutionaries to respond to repression with political integrity and defiance, no matter what the inevitable personal consequences.

In Britain, however, most of those imprisoned for political offences, including “terrorist” activity, tend to conform to prison life and acquiesce to the authority of those enforcing their imprisonment. The spread of what the government and media have described as “Islamic radicalisation” within British prisons has not been accompanied by a serious destabilisation of prison regimes or increased collective unrest within prisons; on the contrary, solidarity and collective resistance amongst prisoners has significantly diminished over the last 10 to 15 years, suggesting almost an inverse relationship between the alleged “radicalisation” of prisoners and their propensity and inclination to collectively resist and fight back. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that the spread of Islamic beliefs amongst young black prisoners, in particular, has been considerable over the last decade it would seem that this “radicalisation” has been more of a personally transformative experience than a collective commitment to organising and resisting prison repression, unlike, for example, in U.S. prisons during the 1960s and 70s when Nation of Islam or Black Muslim prisoners organised and fought back against the prison system. Significantly, a hero and source of inspiration for prominent black power prisoners in the U.S. during the 1960s was Sergey Nechayev, a 19th century Russian anarchist and author of “Catechism of a Revolutionary”, who believed that once politically conscious the revolutionary had an absolute duty to commit and if necessary sacrifice ones entire life to the struggle. Nechayev, imprisoned by the Russian tsarist regime for “terrorist activities”, would eventually die chained to the wall of his cell in the notorious fortress of St Peter and Paul in Moscow.

In a more modern context possibly social class itself is a significant determinate in how those imprisoned for political activity respond to that imprisonment. IRA prisoners and militant black prisoners in the U.S. were generally from poor working class origins and places where police harassment and brutality was a common experience, alongside an intimate knowledge of places of incarceration, often from an early age. In prison such activists naturally bonded with ordinary working class “offenders” and shared with them a common life experience of poverty and repression; prison was simply another front of struggle as far as these imprisoned revolutionaries were concerned. For the political activist from, say, a more middle-class social background prison is much more a completely alien experience and a place largely populated by those from the other side of the track and with whom they share absolutely no personal or cultural affinity or experience whatsoever. The relationship of the imprisoned usually white middle-class activists with those who wield absolute power in jails, the guards and senior managers, also tends to be significantly different from how most working class prisoners relate to those enforcing their imprisonment. In prison to resist and fight back inevitably is to invite even greater repression and pain, and yet amongst many working class prisoners there exists an almost instinctive propensity to fight and challenge the absolute authority of their jailers. On the other hand, for those originally radicalised by revolutionary theory, as opposed to personal experience, and thrust suddenly into an enclosed world of sharp edged repression where the power of those enforcing it seems unassailable and resistance to it pointless, the priority becomes one of adjusting to the prevailing reality and doing whatever is required to get oneself through the experience as quickly and painlessly as possible before returning to the real struggle outside. It obviously makes no tactical common sense to confront a manifestation of institutionalised state violence from a position and condition of total disempowerment. From such a perspective prison is not a place of struggle but simply a place to quietly sit out one’s time and put on the psychological blinkers. Some not accustomed to the reality of prison are badly traumatised by it and the first real experience of naked repression; an academic understanding and knowledge of repression is no preparation for a direct personal experience of it. For the “lumpen-proletariat” however and the politically conscious of them, prison repression is a familiar experience and like oppressed people everywhere their response to it is characterised by resilience and fortitude.

Beyond the walls of the micro-fascist society of prison the illusion of “freedom and democracy” is being increasingly replaced with the reality of a class divided society no longer mediated by consensual rights and liberties – authoritarianism and coercion are the weapons increasingly used to maintain order. In such a political climate more and more activists and libertarians will experience and suffer imprisonment, and more will have to learn that prison is simply another front in their struggle.

John Bowden – September 2015
HMP Barlinnie

Office protest targets prison project

Campaigners inspired by a Reclaim the Fields action camp demonstrated their opposition to the building of a new mega-prison near Wrexham with a visit to a company involved.

outside the offices
outside the offices

We paid a visit to the Gloucestershire offices of Precast Erections Ltd, the company supplying concrete blocks used to build the prison.

“Prisons are part of the problem.” said Olly Torcada. “They are abusive places used by the state to control and threaten us.”

“We need justice processes based on strong, vibrant communities,” said Frieda Evans, “not more prisons which harm and destroy our communities.”

The event was part of a series of prison-related actions, which included solidarity noise demos at 3 different prisons, and a blockade of the prison construction site itself.

Notes

[1] It is estimated that the proposed new prison will cost £250m. It will hold more than 2100 prisoners and be the largest prison in the UK and the second largest in Europe.

[2] Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. The organisation held an action camp at Borras Community Protection Camp entitled ‘Build Gardens Not Prisons’ in solidarity with local anti-fracking campaigns, with workshops on a range of topics linking access to land, prison abolition and opposition to fracking.

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