Tag Archives: state repression

‘Criminalising Children In The Care System’ by John Bowden (UK)

Criminalising the behaviour of working class children and feeding them into the Criminal Justice System is a practice that has existed for generations and is now responsible for Britain having the unenviable reputation of Europe’s worst jailer of children in terms of the numbers imprisoned.

“State raised convicts” form a substantial part of the adult prison population and all share a common genealogy of Children’s Homes, Approved Schools, Borstals and Young Offenders Institutions, and finally the long-term prison system. Many children who through no fault of their own enter the so-called Care System are percentage-wise seriously at risk of graduating into the Criminal Justice System and a life disfigured by institutionalisation and social exclusion.

There are currently 10,000 children in local authority care, their number doubling in the past four years, and the government’s current “Austerity” agenda with its attack on state benefit and services will so deeply impoverish an already desperately poor section of the population that the number of children from this group entering the Care System is bound to increase significantly.

A leading magistrate and member of the Magistrates’ Association Youth Courts Committee, Janis Cauthery, has openly condemned the care system for operating as a doorway into the penal system by regularly prosecuting children for behaviour such as pushing, shoving, and breaking crockery. Behaviour that in normal circumstances would simply be punished by parents is frequently being referred to the police by Children’s Homes and children are being charged with criminal offences and placed before the criminal courts. Ms Cauthery has warned that children in care who receive criminal records for what is in reality normal adolescent behaviour are being drawn into a “vicious cycle” of crime, joblessness and imprisonment, that would go on to seriously affect the lives of their own children. Ms Cauthery said: “Many of the young people we see coming to court have never been in trouble before going into care. These young people are often charged with offences that have occurred within the care home, including damage (e.g. to a door, window, or crockery) and assault (often to one of the care home staff involving pushing and shoving). This behaviour is mostly at the lower end of offending, and in a reasonable family environment would never be dealt with by the police or courts. We worry about these children being criminalised”. She added: “Surely the home has a duty to try to help the young people and find other solutions rather than resorting to the courts for minor offences which, in a normal family environment, would not be thought of as offending behaviour”. She went on to warn that the maltreatment of children in care might be the reason for the “anti-social behaviour” in the first place, which is what classically happens in total institutions when inmates resist and challenge brutal regimes.

Recent high-profile cases when neglect by social workers has seriously contributed to the deaths of children already at serious risk from abusive or drug-addicted parents has created a public mood and climate favourable to the placing into care of even more poor and disadvantaged children, and for many of them an entry route into the penal system. The massive empowerment of social workers in the wake of tragedies like the Baby P case to remove more children into care, often for contentious and contested reasons, makes it reasonable to ask the question if many of these children actually face even greater abuse and the risk of destroyed lives by being placed INTO care.

There is clearly a greater propensity on the part of staff supervising the behaviour of children in care to view any non-conformist or disruptive behaviour on the part of such children as potentially criminal and therefore requiring intervention by the police and courts at the earliest opportunity, which also absolves such staff of the responsibility of working closely and consistently with young people in dealing with such behaviour in an emotionally supportive setting. How much easier to just offload such “difficult” children onto the courts and Young Offender System, where an awful self-fulfilling prophecy then takes place along with the process of criminalisation and institutionalisation. Ultimately, the wider society reaps the cost and consequences of this abandonment of vulnerable children to the Criminal Justice System.

John Bowden
HMP Shotts
June 2012

Freedom for the imprisoned anarchists in Istanbul! International day of solidarity – June 12th, 2012

On May 14th 60 people who participated in the Mayday parade in Istanbul were arrested and their homes searched. They are accused of “damaging public property in the name of a terrorist organization”, because during the parade a couple of banks were damaged. Nine of them are still kept in prison. One of them (who identifies as LGBT -lesbian bisexual gay transgender) was the target of hate speech.

Using the threat of 15-20 years of prison, some of these nine were pressured during the first days (which they spent isolated from their families, friends and lawyers) and confessed to being leaders of a terrorist organization. This accusation seems absurd if one looks at the different parts of the anarchist movements they were active in – from animal rights to human rights, ecological movement and LGBT. It is the first time that activists from the anarchist spectrum, the animal rights and ecological movement are accused of being a terrorist organization. The same method of repression has a long and sad tradition against kurdish and other left groups and individuals.

It is therefore even more necessary to show the agencies of repression that the imprisoned activists are not isolated, but that they have a broad, international movement standing behind them, which values the defense of lives and the dignity of humans and animals more than a few (broken) windows. In an open letter the nine prisoners speak for the first them and the organization Yeryüzüne Özgürlük Derneği (Freedom to Earth Association) calls for international solidarity.

On June 12th people in many countries all over the world will demonstrate in front of Turkish embassies to show their solidarity with the prisoners and to demand their release. Organize actions in your own city!
Do not leave the prisoners alone!

Support the turkish activists and demand their immediate release!

Criminal Justice Services continue to cover up lies about John Bowden

Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, or what used to be know as the plain Social Work Deptartment, has seriously compromised its professional integrity by defending a member of its staff who deliberately told lies in a report to the Parole Board in an attempt to sabotage my chances of release from prison. Behaving like corrupt policemen instead of traditional social workers seems now to be acceptable practice at Edinburgh Social Services.

In an official report for the Parole Board written on the 29/2/2012 Brenden Barnett, who works for Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services, made the following incredible claims about my original case in 1980. “Secondary motives for using violence described by the trial judge and acknowledged by Bowden himself suggest a pattern of behaviour that allowed for the predatory targeting of vulnerable human beings on the margins of society defined by race or sexuality”. “Bowden has suggested that his victims were easily discriminated against on the basis of race or sexuality”. “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worthy of attack; ethnic background, deviant sexuality”.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support Barnett’s bizarre claims and in fact I was convicted in 1982, alongside two other men, of the murder of a white Caucasian heterosexual male during a drunken party in South London. If ethnicity was any sort of factor in the case it was actually represented in the defendants, two of whom were Irish and the third second-generation Irish; the victim was a native white south Londoner. Neither the police who investigated the case or the prosecution authorities or indeed trial judge had ever claimed that either racism or homophobia had played any part in the case; Barnett’s claims are a total lie, as he well knew.

Naively, I imagined that by officially complaining to Barnett’s superiors his lies would be exposed and the record put straight as far as his report to the Parole Board was concerned. Instead I was about to enter a sort of Kafkaesque nightmare.

On the 2/4/2012 I was interviewed by Jackie Peters, Manager for “Risk Management Services” and Barnett’s immediate boss, and Sheila Ritchie, a “Sex and Violent Offender Liaison Officer”, and also a colleague of Barnett’s. Both made it absolutely clear that they intended to defend and support their colleague no matter what, even if it required some twisting of the facts and a total disregard of the truth. Throughout the interview I was treated with obvious contempt and at one point I was actually asked if any of my victims (I was convicted of one murder) were black or homosexuals. Despite my constant protestations that neither race or sexual orientation played any part whatsoever in my conviction, as the official files make clear, they steadfastly determined to somehow defend and justify Barnett’s lies. I eventually realised that the interview was meaningless and their intention was simply to defend their colleague, so I told them that I would pursue my complaint beyond them and do whatever it took to expose Barnett’s lies. In their subsequent report they would describe this as a “threat” against Barnett. They also alleged I had been “angry and aggressive” towards them and tried to shift the focus from Barnett’s lies onto my behaviour during the interview, which they insinuated suggested a potential risk to both themselves and the wider community. The issue of Barnett’s lies in their report was glossed over and my complaint rejected. It’s important to remember here that we’re not dealing with some miner factual inaccuracy or a biased interpretation of established fact, a fairly common phenomenon in social work reports on prisoners; Barnett wrote blatant lies in his report, claims that had absolutely no basis in fact or reality, lies that are easily disproved by reference to the mass of information in my prison and social work file, and yet those supposedly responsible for investigating my complaint decided that Barnett had done absolutely no wrong and his report was completely acceptable. Protected by an occupational culture that views and treats “offenders” as things to be monitored, supervised and policed, authoritarian characters like Barnett believe they have total power over those under their supervision and with it the absolute right to increase their demonisation and dehumanisation, even by writing blatant lies about them.

Those who employ Barnett and those who work alongside him in the Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services must ultimately take responsibility for his behaviour because by defending and supporting him they have seriously compromised their own integrity and are complicit in his dishonesty and abuse of power. A more senior social worker, Stephen Laird, signed off Barnett’s report and therefore gave the official seal of approval to his lies, which is why those supposedly investigating my complaint, Peters and Ritchie, felt an even greater predisposition to support Barnett, even if his lies regarding my original offence were obvious and indefensible. This is how corruption spreads within institutions like the police and Social Services; defending and supporting colleagues who have abused their power, especially over people considered something less than human and utterly powerless, creates complicity and a culture of abuse generally. The prison system and police are riddled with this culture, which is why the abuse and death of people in custody is widespread and why those directly responsible are rarely identified and prosecuted. It would seem that the “Criminal Justice Services” generally, including social workers and probation officers, are also contaminated by this culture of lying and treating “offenders” as people stripped of all basic rights; my experience with Barnett and his colleagues certainly illustrates this.

Undoubtedly at my next parole hearing Barnett will claim that by challenging the lies in his report I have also challenged his authority over me and therefore I represent a “High Risk of Re-offending” because of my adversity to being supervised by Barnett in the community. As always Public Protection will be cited and used as a justification for my continued imprisonment, when in reality I shall probably remain in jail simply because I challenged Barnett’s lies.

I have now complained to Peter Gabbitas, Director of Health and Social Dept. in Edinburgh, who has overall responsibility for Barnett and his colleagues, and he has yet to even acknowledge my letter, which suggests a disinclination on his part to recognise either my existence or that of my complaint. Incredibly it would seem that a pathological liar like Barnett has the absolute freedom to describe someone in an official report as a “racist and homophobic” serial killer without a shred of evidence, and absolutely no-one in his entire dept has the integrity or moral courage to criticise or expose him, and that apparently includes even the dept’s Director. The complete absence of any basic integrity amongst those at Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services is both scandalous and deeply worrying for those under it’s supervision.

The response of Barnett and Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services to my exposing his lies has been to ask the Scottish Prison Service to engineer my removal back to the English prison system, and on the 4/5/2012 Sharron Di Ciacca, Legal Service Manager of the Scottish Prison Service, wrote to me informing me that such a transfer would take place soon. Moving the “problem” on is of course a classic method of controlling and punishing “difficult” prisoners.

Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services should not be allowed to suppress or simply get rid of “offenders” who complain about and expose individuals like Brendan Barnett, and I ask all groups and individuals concerned about the treatment of prisoners and ex-prisoners at the hands of a corrupt social work dept like Edinburgh Criminal Justice Services to write letters or e-mails of complaint to the following addresses:

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
4 Melville Street
Edinburgh
EH3 7NS

Social Work Advice and Complaints Service
Waverley Court
Level 1/7
4 East Market Street
Edinburgh
EH8 8BG

Michelle Miller
Chief Social Worker
Grindlay Court Social Work Centre
Criminal Justice Services
2-4 Grindlay Court
Edinburgh
EH3 9AR

Peter Gabbitas, Director
Health and Social Care Dept
Waverley Court
Level 1/8
4 East Market Street
Edinburgh
EH8 8BG

John Bowden, 6729
HMP Shotts
May 2012

Is the Parole Board deciding on the continued detention of life sentence prisoner?

From: UK IMC

The review process itself, known as an ‘Oral Hearing’, at which the lifer is present, is conducted like a semi-judicial hearing where reports by social workers, prison staff and psychologists are considered and assessed, and the lifer is given the opportunity to present their own case for release.

Is the Parole Board deciding on the continued detention of life sentence prisoners before their hearings?

Periodically reviewing life sentences by the Parole Board is a process required by law and such reviews, known as Tribunals, are intended to assess the current level of risk presented by life-sentence prisoners at the expiry of Tariff point of their sentence; Tariffs are the minimum length of time trial judges specify a lifer should spend in prison to satisfy the interests of retribution and punishment. Once the tariff point has been reached or exceeded by the lifer then the Parole Board has a legal duty to review and make an informed decision on the lifer’s continued imprisonment.

The review process itself, known as an ‘Oral Hearing’, at which the lifer is present, is conducted like a semi-judicial hearing where reports by social workers, prison staff and psychologists are considered and assessed, and the lifer is given the opportunity to present their own case for release. It is from these hearings, or Tribunals, that the critically important decisions are made about the lifer’s future, especially the one regarding whether to release or not. It would be absolutely wrong, as well as unlawful, if a decision regarding release was made BEFORE the ‘Oral Hearing’ had taken place and the paper work regarding that decision was written up to convey the impression that the decision had been made following such a hearing. In the case of a lifer called Malcolm Legget there exists indisputable evidence that such an unlawful practice took place and its discovery was purely by accident and incompetence on the part of the Parole Board.

On the 6 February 2012 a parole hearing took place at Shotts prison in Scotland to consider the case for release of Malcolm Legget who has been in jail since 1986. During the hearing Mr Legget asked that a prison-based psychologist, Sharron McAllister, be produced as a witness at the hearing to explain what Mr Legget claimed were significant inaccuracies in her report regarding him. The panel agreed to Mr Legget’s request and the hearing was adjourned for a period of six months.

On the 21 February the Parole Board for Scotland wrote to Mr Legget saying the panel had made a definite decision regarding his continued imprisonment and had decided not to direct his release. It claimed the reason for its decision was that it still considered Mr Legget a risk to the community. Understandably, Mr Legget was concerned and confused by what appeared to be a final decision of the Parole Board when in fact his hearing had been adjourned and not yet concluded. Then on the 24 February Mr Legget received a second letter from the Parole Board informing him that the information in the previous letter had been what it called ‘an error’. Mr Legget is convinced that in fact the letter from the Parole Board of the 21 February was a pre-prepared decision made before the hearing on the 6 February and the real ‘error’ was that it was delivered to Mr Legget before the definitive conclusion of his hearing.

If Mr Legget’s suspicion is true, and the letter from the board on the 21 February suggest it is, then it indicates a serious and unlawful abuse of Parole Board procedure and power, and the rubber-stamping of the continued imprisonment of life sentence prisoners without proper procedure.

It also constitutes a clear breach of human rights under Article 5[4] which states that, “Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful”. This clearly stipulates that a proper, legally-based hearing should take place to sanction the prisoner’s detention, and in the case of the lifer the parole hearing is constituted to consider the continued detention, or not, of the life sentence prisoner who has reached or exceeded the time stipulated he should remain in jail. The so-called Oral Hearing is the forum where reports and evidence is considered by the panel, which is usually composed of a judge or legally qualified person, and a psychologist and senior probation officer or criminologist. It is from the evidence presented at these hearings, conducted in the presence of the lifer, that the final decision to release or detain is made. The letter Malcolm Legget received from the Parole Board on the 21 February would suggest that a decision to continue detaining Mr Legget was made in private and before the Oral Hearing itself. Clearly, if this did happen then ether a unique and unlawful precedent was created, or the rubber-stamping in private of the continued detention of life sentence prisoners is an established practice and the Parole Board is operating on an unlawful basis.

John Bowden 6729
HMP Shotts
April 2012

Sack Brenden Barnett

from: support john bowden

Militant long-term prisoner John Bowden continues not only to get shit from the prison authorities, but also from ‘social workers’ acting as their lackeys (see  http://leedsabc.org/another-attempt-to-sabotage-john-bowdens-parole-by-prison-hired-social-worker/ and  http://leedsabc.org/update-from-john-bowden-about-lies-written-by-prison-hired-social -worker-2/ ).

Regular Indymedia readers may recall that a few years ago the System used stooge social worker Mathew Stillman to smear the Anarchist Black Cross as a “terrorist organisation” with whom John was in contact. Eventually Stillman was totally discredited, but now another State lackey, Brenden Barnett, is doing their dirty work for them.

John’s official complaint against Barnett has only brought further repression. There is a need for a sustained campaign to expose Barnett’s lies and to expose the fact that two years after the Parole Board recommended John Bowden be moved to an open prison, he continues to be held in a Scottish high security jail, and for no other reason than his political writings exposing injustice and repression in British prisons.

Please read John’s articles on this latest situation (see link above) and take some time to at least write to Michelle Miller, Chief Social Worker, Grindlay Court Social Work Centre, Criminal Justice Services, 2-4 Grindlay Court, Edinburgh, EH3 9AR.

For just £2.16 postage you could even send a card like the one pictured above, which Leeds ABC posted on Saturday 21st April.
You can also write to John Bowden at:

John Bowden – 6729, HMP Shotts, Cantrell Road, Shotts, Scotland, ML7 4LE.

18 arrests as Mansion is evicted & drones conference resisted

Report and statement from members of Bristol Defendant Solidarity, ABC & Afed:

Squatters face up to riot police after the illegal morning eviction on Sunday 1st April

After losing to a possession order in court from the Bank of Scotland, squatters held another party at Clifton Wood House that ended with 11 arrests. At about 6am, police gained entry to the £3 million mansion under the Criminal Justice Act due to noise complaints, where they were met by a crowd of 35 angry ravers. The party goers then successfully resisted attempts to shut down the party by charging the cops to remove them from the building. Police responded by calling backup involving 50 officers, who closed off Clifton Wood Road, and proceeded to illegally evict the squatters from their home and seize sound equipment.

This led to a series of arrests from public order to assault pc as individuals attempted to resist the police led eviction. The video shows someone bleading from the nose during arrest and being threatened with a taser, followed by another person being dragged off in a neck lock by an officer defending himself armed with CS spray. Currently five people ranging from 17-19 years old have now been charged; two with assault pc (one who also has resisting arrest) and another two with section 5 offenses.

The next day in the centre a noise demo outside the 27th International Bristol Drone Conference consequently led to more arrests. Starting at around 9am on Telephone Avenue, by about midday around 80 people were making a loud racket with a sound system, pots and pans and a live band. Members of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Bristol Against Arms Trade, Smash EDO and Bristol Amnesty took part in the action in solidarity with those facing drone attacks abroad in state warfare. Drone attacks have led to thousands of civilian casualties in conflict areas, and are often referred to as “remote killing machines”.

Monday 2nd April: People stood on windows frames banging windows looking in as warmongers attempted to eat lunch in peace.

A Palestinian flag was promptly hung at Armada House where the conference was taking place as people stood on windows frames banging windows to cause maximum disruption, while several arms dealers relied on the cops to leave due to the attention given by activists who pursued the warmongers around town. In response police arrived at 2pm with 5 support vans, initially seizing the sound system, then blocking off Marsh Rd before advancing from Baldwin Street towards Telephone Avenue after also blocking the road. They began attacking the demonstration, who strongly resisted being moved, leading to 7 people being arrested/detained on various different charges. These included public nuisance, public order, breah of the peace, obstruct pc and assault pc, as well as someone re-arrested in relation to the Clifton eviction.

Video | Pictures

Four out of the seven people arrested were eventually taken to to trinity road police station, after which activists held a solidarity demonstration outside the main entrance. The demo was lively with music and a fire place made from a washing machine drum to keep themselves warm. When police came out to demand that the fire be extinguished, protesters simply picked up the drum and moved it across to the roundabout much to the annoyance of the police who were having to carry a bucket of water. This happened again a few moments later when the fire was moved back to it’s original place and the police came out in larger numbers with an idle threat to call the fire service. By the end of this rather humorous game the police went inside to ‘research’ laws on contained public fires.

Eventually three out of four of the people arrested were released on bail with ridiculous conditions, for example a suspect was not allowed to congregate with 3 or more persons at a time. A bit weird, but it is the Avon and Somerset police we’re talking about here. The remaining person in custody was held overnight and was due in court the following morning. Additionally 3 people waited outside Southmead police station where others were taken, as nervously paranoid police covered up numbers plates on exiting the compound – concerned an anarchist database was being created!

As a result of the protest two activists are fighting the cases in court, while one person has been fined £150 for a section 5 offence (causing ‘alarm, harassment or distress’), someone accepting a caution, and another bound over for breach of the peace but charged with vandalizing a police cell.

It goes without saying Bristol Defendant Solidarity, Bristol Anarchist Black Cross and Bristol Anarchist Federation express full solidarity with all those arrested, charged and otherwise violently repressed by the police over these two days. While other groups may keep their distance, we will continue to support individuals through the courts and with their fines.

A benefit gig has already been organised to support the anti-drone and clifton defendants (full details to be announced very soon) while squatters and activists aim to legally oppose the eviction and police response to the noise demo, which were both caught on camera. Furthermore there is a march in solidarity with squatters facing evictions, charges & additionally threatened with homeless through the criminalisation of squatting.

Meet 1pm on Saturday 14th April @ Metropolis Stokes Croft to defend our squats!

Update From John Bowden About Lies Written In A Report By Prison Hired Social Worker – April 2012

Update From John Bowden About Lies Written In A Report By Prison Hired Social Worker

Brendon Barnett, a criminal justice social worker in Edinburgh, has so compromised himself by writing blatant lies in a report to the parole board to try and sabotage my release that his employers should seriously consider his suitability as a social work professional.

Social Work Advice and Complaints Service in Edinburgh are currently investigating my complaint that in a report submitted to the parole board in February Barnett wrote what he knew to be total lies and did so without any concern that his lies would inevitably be found out. This suggests either a serious personality disorder on Barnett’s part or a belief that whatever he wrote the system would support him and never hold him properly
accountable. It will therefore be interesting to see how my complaint is treated by the social work complaints service and how the system deals with someone who thinks it’s completely acceptable to use their position to destroy the lives of people considered too marginalised, powerless and stigmatised to defend themselves.

In response to an article that I wrote exposing the lies in Barnett’s report, Barnett submitted a second report to the parole board obviously motivated by a determination to inflict greater punishment for my having the temerity to speak out. In his second report submitted on the 22nd March he accuses me of being ‘very selective’ in my use of quotes from his first report and ‘manipulative’ in my ‘editing’ of them. He claimed that I wrote and distributed the article as a ‘crude attempt to intimidate and cow’ him. He also made reference to a warning or threat in his first report that my continuing to use the internet as a means of exposing dishonest reporting by social workers should be considered by the parole board as sufficient reason to deny my release.

In terms of my reason for writing and distributing the article about the lies in Barnett’s first report, my actual motive was to try and highlight a pattern of behaviour on the part of prison-based psychologists and social workers that compromises their professional integrity by blurring the boundaries between an often vindictive prison system and the supposed professional independence of ‘criminal justice workers’ like Barnett. Although not formally employed by the prison system Barnett clearly had contact with and was influenced by senior prison staff whilst writing his first report and obviously believed he now shared with them such total power over me that I would be completely defenceless
to his lies; in fact what he actually succeeded in doing was undermining the basic integrity of his report and illustrating how so-called criminal justice professionals like social workers and probation officers are often used by prison staff to legitimise the otherwise blatant victimization of prisoners. Either way, my essential motive in writing and distributing my article was to bring attention to a clear abuse of power by Barnett and also to an obvious and repetitive pattern of lies in social work reports written on me for the parole board. In fact, Barnett’s lies, although uniquely unbelievable, fit a consistent pattern of dishonesty and lies in reports submitted to the parole board since at least 2007. The motive is clear: to prevent my release by any means necessary.

Barnett claims that in my article exposing his lies I was selective in my choice of quotes from his first report and manipulative in my editing of them. In fact, I lifted the quotes verbatim from his report and selected those that were obviously untrue in the extreme, such as the claim that I was convicted of hate crimes against ethnic minorities and gay people. In a typical example of this he wrote, “Bowden has not only used a political analysis of his own history but also those of his victims suggesting they were individuals easily discriminated against on the basis of race or sexuality”. This is EXACTLY what Barnett wrote free of any manipulation or editing by me. He also wrote, “Bowden has suggested that his victims were easily discriminated against on the basis or race or sexuality” and “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worthy of attack: ethnic background, deviant sexuality”. Despite a mountain of official reports and evidence relating to my life before prison and the circumstances of my ‘offending behaviour’, which Barnett would have been familiar with, he decided to introduce a racist and homophobic dimension to my case that has absolutely no basis in fact or reality. The question therefore has to be asked why?

Prison-based social workers often exaggerate, distort and misrepresent facts when writing reports for the parole board, but rarely are naked lies written in reports that are examined by a judicial body  like the parole board. In 2007 a prison-based social worker, Matthew Stillman, wrote a report for the parole board preparing to consider my release in which he described a prisoner support group, Anarchist Black Cross, as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and my connection with it as sufficient reason to deny my release. Stillman, a right-wing American, claimed that ABC’s politics were ‘Terroristic’ in his opinion, though would subsequently also claim that he was encouraged by senior prison staff to use the term ‘terrorist’ in his report to the parole board. Political definitions, no matter how distorted,  are however completely different to blatant lies, there are only two explanations for Barnett writing  such outrageous lies in his report to the parole board, either plain incompetence [difficult to believe when one considers his otherwise forensic eye for detail in the report] or straight forward malevolence. Either explanation is almost secondary to the imperative that he should be sacked or removed from a job where he is able to inflict serious damage on people’s live.

John Bowden – HMP Shotts – April 2012

Indefinite Internment Without Trial – John Bowden – March 2012

Indefinite Internment Without Trial’If they come for me tonight they will come for you in the morning’– Angela Davis

In Britain today there are a group of men held in prison without trial or any form of due legal process, and they are being detained indefinitely. These men have committed no crimes in Britain and are being held at the behest of a foreign state, the U.S., whilst their extradition to that country has been ruled unlawful by the British court. Their continued imprisonment, in breach of the most elemental civil and human rights, has clear implications for every citizen in the U.K. because if the rule of law is suspended in the case of any unpopular minority then dangerous precedents are set that will eventually be used against anyone or any group viewed as worthy of ‘special measures’.

There are currently seven men, all of Middle Eastern and Asian extraction, being held in a small isolation unit at Long Lartin maximum-security prison in Worcestershire, some of whom have been there for almost ten years. Originally designed and used as a prison punishment unit, the Detainee unit is very much a prison and it’s inhabitants are kept strictly separated and isolated from other prisoners in the jail. Methods of small-group isolation and control are applied which over a prolonged period of time are known to have a seriously damaging effect on the mind and personality. In June of 2011 the Chief Inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, was extremely critical of the situation of the prisoners confined to the Detainee unit and in a report on the unit wrote, “The Detainee unit at HMP Long Lartin is a prison within a high-security prison. It holds a small number of individuals suspected but not convicted of involvement in international terrorism and held under immigration or extradition law. Some have been held for many years as they fight removal from the UK and all are held in the highest security conditions. We have previously raised concerns about holding a small number of detainees, who already inhabit a kind of legal limbo, in a severely restricted environment for a potentially indefinite period. The risks to the mental and physical health of detainees of such lengthy, ill-defined and isolated confinement are significant.”

The existence of this group of prisoners is proof that none of our legal traditions and rights are safe from serious compromise and surrender, and their continued detention in conditions of virtual solitary confinement makes a complete mockery of the belief that anyone is truly safe from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, especially when the state decides to widen the focus of it’s ‘War on Terror’.

The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, claimed in response to the release of Abu Qatada that ‘indefinite internment without trial’ does not exist in the U.K. This is a lie. He is fully aware that in the Detainee unit at Long Lartin a group of men are currently being held in exactly that unlawful situation as a gesture of acquiescence to American power.

John Bowden
March 2012
HMP Shotts

Another Attempt To Sabotage John Bowden’s Parole By Prison Hired Social Worker

Another Attempt To Sabotage John Bowden’s Parole By Prison Hired Social Worker March 2012

The changed role of probation officers, and in Scotland social workers, from ‘client centered’ liberal professionals into ‘criminal justice workers’ focused essentially on ‘public protection’ and ‘managing risk’ has in many cases led to serious abuses of power as what were once considered vocations of social conscience have been transformed into little more than the revenge of the middle class.

Nowhere more is this so than in the case of prison-based social workers and criminal justice probational/supervision officers who are little more than appendages of repressive state power and act as a legitimizing and respectable cover for that power.

The collaboration of prison hired social workers in the victimization of prisoners labelled ‘control problems’ was exemplified by Matthew Stillman, a social worker employed by Perth and Kinross Council in Scotland, who in 2007 whilst on placement at Castle Huntley open prison in Dundee wrote a social work report for the Parole Board in which he described the Anarchist Black Cross support group (ABC) as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and my support of it as sufficient reason to deny my release after 30 years in jail. As a direct consequence of Stillman’s report I was removed from Castle Huntley open jail where I was preparing for release and returned to maximum security conditions. Following a public campaign by the ABC and an internal investigation by Perth and Kinross Council, Stillman’s claim was exposed as a deliberate lie and he was quietly moved to another job. Stillman would subsequently claim that senior management as Castle Huntley jail had encouraged him to make the terrorist claim in his report. What the episode actually illustrated was the malleability of ‘criminal justice professionals’ by a vindictive prison management and how willing such ‘professionals’ compromise their integrity in the interests of career and power.

This was again illustrated in February of this year before another scheduled parole hearing to consider my release when the Parole Board asked a community based social worker in Edinburgh, Brendon Barnett, to prepare a post release supervision plan report. Told by the prison authorities that I was refusing to co-operate with an assessment for psychology based behaviour modification programmes, Barnett wrote a report clearly intended to influence the parole board to deny my release indefinitely. Like Stillman, he also wrote lies in his report, but this time the lies really did defy belief.

When claiming to describe my original offence in 1980 and my ‘patterns of behaviour’ at the time of the offence, Barnett wrote in his report: “His victims were individuals easily discriminated against on the basis of race and sexuality”. “There was a pattern of behaviour that allowed for the predatory targeting of vulnerable human beings defined by race or sexuality”. “Individuals were deemed worthy of attack on the basis of ethnic background and deviant sexuality”. “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worth of attack: ethnic background, deviant sexuality?” Incredibly, without any reference to official records, i.e. police reports or trial transcripts, Barnett committed his outrageous lies to a report intended for the Parole Board, a body thoroughly conversant with the facts of my original offence.

The actual facts are these. In November 1980, during a drunken party at a flat in South London, Donald Ryan, a white Caucasian, heterosexual man was killed by 3 other white Caucasian, heterosexual men, one of whom was me. The police who investigated the case, the prosecution authorities and trial judge who tried the case, have never claimed or suggested there was a racist or homophobic dimension to the case, and why would they? Barnett’s claims were a complete invention. In the preamble to his report Barnett claimed that all his information was derived from ‘core documents’ and ‘source material’; this was also a lie.  An explanation as to Barnett’s motives in writing such reckless lies is possibly provided by other parts of his report. Under a heading he terms “Compliance” he writes: “Bowden’s time in custody has been characterised as a sustained and deliberate war of attrition with the prison service. It is reported that earlier in his sentence he often began riots, dirty protests and hunger strikes. As his sentence progressed Bowden developed a strategy of intellectual analysis of the system he is subject to. He appears to conceptualize his activities in the light of a particular ideological awareness and as part of a wider struggle”. He then provides the Parole Board with website references for various articles I’ve written criticising the prison system and cites Stillman’s report as a reference source. He concludes this part of his report with – “Bowden questions the whole validity of the prison system and the honesty, professionalism and impartiality of those charged with his assessment and supervision”.

The core motive for Barnett’s lies are clearly revenge for Stillman, and this is made explicit in a paragraph of the report entitled “Professional Boundaries”. Under this he writes: “Bowden is known to have aired grievances on the internet with regard to particular professionals involved in the assessment of his level of risk. He appears to have authored articles that have been forwarded to various websites naming professionals involved in the parole process, suggesting readers contact them directly. He has suggested a named social worker’s “right wing views” (Stillman) influenced his assessment of Bowden”. He then issues a clear threat: “Should he repeat these actions (publicising the names of social workers) this could be deemed a rejection of the conditions of release”. What Barnett is actually saying is that should I dare to expose and publicise his outrageous lies then I risk imprisonment until death.

Brendon Barnett is supposedly a social worker employed by the Criminal Justice Services in Edinburgh who last year was instructed by his employers to prepare a post release supervision plan for me and present it’s features in a report for the Parole Board. Instead he abused his position by collaborating with the prison system to prejudice the parole process and sabotage my release. Rather stupidly, instead of basing his disgusting allegations on historical fact and official record, he obviously regurgitated lies from Micheal Mansfield’s “Memoirs Of A Radical Lawyer”, that Mansfield himself has now publicly admitted were completely untrue. Brendon Barnett should be sacked.

Please write letters of complaint to:

Michelle Miller Chief Social Worker Officer
Grindlay Court Social Work Centre
Criminal Justice Services
2-4 Grindlay Court
Edinburgh
EH3 9AR
Fax: 0131 2298628    
 
Please send letters of support to: 
John Bowden 6729
HMP Shotts
Canthill Road
Shotts
Lanarkshire
Scotland
ML7 4LE

If A Tree Falls Screening & Discussion @ Kebele

Bristol ABC Presents:

If A Tree Falls: Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Thursday 26th April 2012
w/ talk & discussion on activist security

Food served from 6:30pm, film starts at 7:30pm

In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front– a group the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado.

With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (http://ifatreefallsfilm.com/) tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage — much of it never before seen — and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word “terrorism” had not yet been altered by 9/11.

 
Suggested donation for food: £2.50
 
Kebele Social Centre, 14 Robertson Rd, Easton, Bristol. BS5 6JY
Vegan food served from 6:30pm, films start at 7:30pm