Category Archives: prison policy

Indefinite detention in Germany

Below is a letter from long-term prisoner Thomas Meyer-Falk about a friend of his who is in indefinite detention in Germany. For more information write to:

Thomas Meyer-Falk
c/o JVA (SV)
Hermann-Herderstr. 8
D 79104 Freiburg
GERMANY

www.freedom-for-thomas.de
freedomforthomas.wordpress.com

Woman imprisoned for sex without a condom

In Germany in 2014 a 29 year old woman was sentenced to four years in prison for having sex without using a condom. Because the court deemed her a threat to public safety, Preventative Detention – indefinite imprisonment – was added.

The story:

Jaqueline was a young woman who was in love with life, she hung around the surroundings of a biker club and had a few partners. Years before she had caught HIV, but was taking medication for it and therefore hadn’t become ill.

Then Jaquline’s own mother, when she found out that her daughter had been having sex with men, reported her to the police.

The trial:

The district court found Jaqueline guilty of “attempting serious physical injury”: having sex without using a condom. According to the courts this was a highly dangerous “treatment” (the technical word in German law), and since she had done the same thing before, Preventative Detention was added.

History of Preventative Detention:

In 1933 the Nazis passed a law against people who were identified as “threats to society”, which allowed the state to keep someone behind bars for life after this person had finished his or her sentence (freedomforthomas.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/nazi-law-in-germany-2013/). After WWII, in 1954, the GDR (East Germany)’s High Courts repealed the law that had created PD because it was an “original Nazi code”. The courts in FRG (West Germany) never had such moral doubts. In Spain, the constitutional court has overruled a similar law, because it violates the rule saying that no-one should be convicted twice for the same offence.

No appeal!

The Federal High Court and the Federal Constitutional Court both refused to overrule the district court’s decision, so now Jaqueline, who is only 30 years old, faces a lifetime behind bars for only having had sex without a condom. No-one was injured, no-one was harmed, no-one was infected with HIV. Lifetime, maybe, behind bars – based on a law which was passed by the Nazis in 1933.

Cardiff Smash IPP Demo and March

I ddarllen yr erthygl yn y Gymraeg cliciwch yma.

smash ipp leadleting

On Saturday the 4th of April 2015, the Smash IPP group held their first a demonstration in Cardiff. For those of you who do not know what IPP is, it is an indeterminate sentence for “public protection”. This allows the court to add time onto an existing prison sentence often for minor crimes and therefore pushing back the release date indefinitely. This means that IPP prisoners live under the constant mental torture of having no release date. It was abolished in 2012, however this was not done retrospectively leaving more then 5000 people in jail for a non existing law with no release date.

At 2pm the group gathered at the Aneirin Bevan statue on Queen Street. We were joined by friends and family members prisoners under the IPP sentence. We stayed at the statue for about an hour handing out leaflets and talking to the public about IPP sentences as it is not a very well known subject. We then marched down queen street with black flags and banners. Everyone, including children who were marching with us, took turns chanting “Smash IPP, Set them Free” and “Our Passion for Freedom, is Stronger then their Prisons”.

ipp kids

We arrived at the prison entrance where we were joined by others who were visiting loved ones in prison. We continued to chant things like “Freedom for all, Tear Down the Walls”. We then we went to the top floor of the a nearby car park where there was good visibility. We could see the prison cell and the the prisoners could see us. We hung banners, chanted and communicated with people in the prison. The friends, families and demonstrators kept were still chanting, “Give them a Date, Set them Free, Smash IPP!”. The prisoners themselves sent us signals of their support and asked us to return.

There will be more events like this in future. This group Smash IPP is a collective of Anarchists and anti-authoritarians as well as the loved ones of IPP prisoners. We have chosen to stand against IPP because it is one of the most blatant abuses by the state of the “justice” system in order to punish those it deems criminals, while some of the worst crimes of all are begin committed by the cops, judges and screws.

ipp march

Solidarity to all persons in prison and those who’s lives are affected by the prison system, including all those in the racist detention centers of the UK. All in all, it was a successful demonstration, there was a good atmosphere and no police presence. More stuff coming up soon, to get involved e-mail smashipp@riseup.net

Letter from Prisoner Emma Sheppard, March 2015 – Prisons do not work for anyone – except those who profit from them.

Translations: Français

Last night I saw the moon and a star. It was the first time in a long-time. It made me think of all my friends, old and new,and wonder what they were doing under its glow. I feel so lucky to be part of a wide network of people. Anything seems possible when you know you have support. But whilst these thoughts make prison bearable, I will never forget the violence of the system.

The prisons are nearly full. So they are building more. From Topshop to Tesco, DHL to Lend Lease, and Virgin to Geoamey, there is a lot of money in the prison regime. Now private ‘Community Rehabilitation Companies’ are running the probation service. Christopher Grayling has announced another ‘rehabilitative initiative’ for the Ministry of Justice. Prisoners will create sandbags, fence posts and kit for the Armed Forces, in order to ‘learn important new skills’ and the ‘value of a hard days work’.

The word rehabilitation is never far away inside these walls. But prison has a long shadow – it isolates, separates and destroys lives. Much has been written recently about women in prison. Even Vicky Pryce – ex-wife of a Tory MP has called for change. But whilst women in prison certainly have, to use the language of the screws, ‘complex needs’, calls for reform on gendered lines oversimplify the problem. Prisons do not work for anyone – except those who profit from them.

And what does ‘rehabilitation’ even mean? Repenting for your crime? Bowing down to supposedly benevolent systems which are offered to us as ‘choices’? Rehabilitation is used like a carrot we are meant to chase. But I will not participate in a race to make sandbags. There is no rehabilitation in an IPP, CSC or seg. When people are shipped out without warning. This is not rehabilitation.

Assata Shakur described one of the many show trials she was subjected to. Whilst I am not in any way comparing myself to her, the sentiment really resonated with me:

“Participating in the New Jersey Trial was unprincipled and incorrect. By participating, I participated in my own oppression. I should have known better and not lent credence to that sham. In the long run, the people are our only appeal. The only ones who can free us are ourselves.”

Some people successfully detox in prison, many relapse. Some leave their abusive relationships, may return. Just like the myth of ‘protection’ the police perpetuate, ‘rehabilitation’ is a convenient facade which hides systemic violence. The decisions people make in prison may benefit or harm them. But any positive changes the individual makes happen in spite of, not due to, the ‘opportunities’ we receive. I will never forget the razor wire and the sound of the key in the door. but even though you lock me in, I am not alone.

Much love,

Em x

For more information about Emma’s case & her contact details visit: https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/support-emma/

Image

Info Night & Fundraiser for Smash IPP Campaign, Thursday 2nd April

IPP Night

Prisons: Factories Of Hate

state-prisoners-working-posterizedRight-wing Tory Justice Minister Chris Grayling’s declaration in late April that prisoners would now be made to “earn” basic privileges by “working harder” probably wasn’t just the usual “popularist” promise to stick the boot into one of the most powerless and demoralised social groups. During times of economic austerity and potential social unrest scapegoating marginalised and outcast groups like prisoners, is always useful as a means of deflecting and re-focusing public anger away from the true culprits of the country’s economic ruination, in this case Grayling’s pals in the city of London. Behind the rhetoric and the guise of “getting tough” on prisoners is the actual purpose of the prison
industrial complex: to turn prisons into privatised forced-labour factories.

Continue reading

California Prisoner Hunger Strike – More on Medical Crisis, Need Support Pressuring Immediate Negotiations

Legal representatives made visits to the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s Pelican Bay prison Tuesday, and interviewed a number of hunger strikers. Each prisoner explained how medical conditions of hundreds of hunger strikers in the SHU are worsening. Many prisoners are experiencing irregular heartbeats and palpitations, some are suffering from diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia. Many are also experiencing dizziness and constantly feel light-headed. Many struggle with shortness of breath and other lung and respiratory problems. Dozens of prisoners have fainted and been taken to either the infirmary and/or outside hospitals. Some prisoners also have Chrones disease, which leads to extreme loss of fluids and electrolytes and needs to be treated by adequate nutrition and hydration.

At least 200 prisoners continue the strike in solidarity with the prisoners at Pelican Bay at Calipatria State Prison, where summer heat has reached to 43C, even hotter inside the SHUs. Some people have experienced heat stroke due to severe dehydration. Continue reading

Prisons Campaigner Found Dead Beside Daughter’s Grave

Bristol ABC wishes to send it’s deepest sympathies to those who knew and worked with Pauline Campbell.  Pauline has been a tireless campaigner against deaths of women in custody since the tragic death of her daughter Sarah in 2003.  She was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize in October 2005. The prize is awarded each year to a woman or group who has, through their actions, writing or campaigning; raised awareness of violence against women and children. Pauline visited Bristol in September 2007 to talk at the Kebele about her daughter’s death, the state’s admission that they had failed her and her ongoing struggle.  Tragically Pauline was found dead on the grave of her daughter, whos death in custody motivated her struggle for justice.

Links for more information/related news:

Prisons campaigner Pauline Campbell found dead beside daughter’s
grave
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/05/398885.html

A Shameful admission
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/sep/27/crime.penal

Venue’s Shameful Class War
https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/2007/11/07/venues-shameful-class-
war/

In other news Bristol ABC notes the arrival of two new groups
campaigning around justice for the Angloa 3 –
http://angola3london.org/ and http://www.myspace.com/awhw

There is a letter-writing that meets at Kebele – please get in touch if you are interesting in coming along!

Private prisons are actually worse than public ones!

See the BBC News report here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7197489.stm

Althought the Prison Service claims that comparisons between the private and public sector prisons are irrelevant because of different ways of collecting data, it would be good to keep this prisons ‘league table’ in mind when the government is handing out contracts for the Titan prisons it intends to start building soon…

Prison News Follow Up

Following our article on Venue’s shameful note of class war, we note with interest;

“Today the government gives its response to the Corston report – published earlier in the year it was set up to look at the state of women’s prisons. Its most radical recommendation was that women’s jails should be abolished within ten years and replaced with community based centres.”

So while the Venue writer thought it funny and entertaining that anyone would consider abolishing prisons, in the case of women’s prisons, and the subject of the original post that attracted the Venue writer – this is exactly what is being proposed.

It should also be noted that this government, having rammed the prisons to capacity and beyond is planning to splash out another £1.2 billion on jails;

“The government is to build up to three supersize prisons, holding about 2,500 inmates each, as part of a programme to tackle the overcrowding crisis by increasing jail capacity by 10,500 places within seven years.

The justice secretary, Jack Straw, announced that he had secured an extra £1.2bn, on top of £1.5bn already committed, for a building programme which will see the capacity of jails in England and Wales increase to 96,000 by 2014.”

We wonder how much of this windfall will go to private prison contractors? How much will the new jails make people feel safer? Given the high proportion of people inside for economic crimes – unpaid debt and so forth, readers may find the following thread useful;

Avoiding Debt, and avoiding prison
http://libcom.org/node/6372