Posts Tagged ‘HMP Shotts’
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
via a comrade of Brighton ABC:
On November 6th the Parole Board for England and Wales carried out it’s statutory obligation to review my continued detention after more than three decades in prison and many years beyond what the judiciary originally recommended I should serve in jail. Following an earlier parole hearing in May 2011 the board had recommended my transfer to an open prison in preparation for my release 12 months hence. Almost three years later I remain in a maximum-security prison because of what the prison system and a criminal justice system social worker claim is my politicised anti-authoritarian attitude and “rigid belief system” that is antipathetic to my being properly supervised outside a custodial setting. No one who gave evidence at the parole hearing, even representatives of the prison system, claimed that I represented any sort of threat or risk to the community, the usual reason or criterion for the continued detention of a life sentence prisoner beyond what the judiciary had originally recommended as the appropriate length of time they should serve in jail. (more…)
Sunday, October 27th, 2013
via a comrade of Brighton ABC:
Neo-liberalism, an ideology and concept usually associated with a particularly ruthless brand of free-market economics, has now reached into the very core services of the state and institutions that were once considered strictly off limits to financial speculators and entrepreneurs: the NHS, the prison system and the criminal justice system. Neo-liberalism doesn’t just involve a massive shift of economic power and wealth to an already extremely powerful and wealthy social group, but also a fundamental shift in the philosophy and policy of organisations like the welfare and criminal justice systems, both of whose ‘clients’ are now increasingly lumped together as an undifferentiated mass of the ‘undeserving poor’ or an always potentially criminal ‘underclass’ requiring an equal degree of punitive supervision, surveillance and ‘management’. For the poor the welfare state is becoming increasingly like a carceral state. (more…)
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
As modern monuments to naked and undisguised state power prisons, it would be reasonable to assume, are institutions where those confined are so completely disempowered and stripped of social distinctions that a kind of elemental human
solidarity must surely prevail amongst them. Surely power in such places would be concentrated solely in the hands of the guards or those who employ them, while the prisoners exist as a powerless uniform mass, voiceless and compliant and denied even bodily integrity and self-autonomy? “Ghosts of the civil dead” is probably the most apt description of the imprisoned.
In fact, as in any society or human group, power within prisons is a very dynamic phenomenon that shifts and changes and sometimes alters the balance and nature of control. It also manifests itself in crude hierarchies of power amongst
prisoners themselves, class systems almost that create another layer of oppression in prison. (more…)
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
The governments Legal Aid and Punishment Act 2012 which came into effect in April 2013 represents one of the Tories [Conservative Party - ruling right-wing political party in UK] most serious and vicious attacks on the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in terms of their relationship with an increasingly more repressive state, removing as it does the right to publicly funded legal redress for the already most powerless in society.
The Act also targets prison litigation, which right-wing Justice Minister Chris Grayling claims is “unnecessary and frivolous”. In fact, the Act attacks what were previously legally enforceable basic rights for people in prison and now creates a total legal vacuum as far as those rights are concerned whilst encouraging the prison authorities to do exactly as it pleases with those in it’s custody. Andrew Neilson of the Howard League for Penal Reform has warned that “without prisoners being able to access legal aid we may see a collapse in justice in the very place where it should be paramount – within prison walls”. (more…)
Monday, March 4th, 2013
Fyoder Dostoevsky, the Russian novelist and sometimes political dissident, once wisely observed that a good barometer of the level and quality of a society’s civilisation is the way it treats it’s prisoners, the most dis-empowered of all social groups.
There has of course always existed a sort of socially organic and dynamic relationship between prison society and the wider ordinary society beyond it’s walls, and the treatment of prisoners is usually an accurate reflection of the relationship of power that prevails between the state and ordinary working class people in the broader society. It is how political power is shaped and negotiated between the state and the poorer social groups on the outside that essentially determines the treatment of prisoners on the inside. (more…)
Friday, February 15th, 2013
The role of teachers and educational tutors employed by local colleges and contracted to work within the prison system can be a conflicting and potentially very hazardous one. Empowering prisoners with knowledge in an environment intrinsically organised to disempower them can sometimes be a dangerous activity.
Unlike the function and role of most other types of staff working within prisons (guards, probation officers, social workers and psychologists etc.) that revolve around the containment, control and disempowerment of prisoners, teaching within jails usually involves a relationship with prisoners that is often inimical to that custody and control dimension of prisons. The uniformed guards who basically control and maintain ‘discipline’ in prisons instinctively understand the empowering influence of education on prisoners, which is essentially why they view civilian teachers working within prisons with suspicion and as an always potentially weak link in the chain of security and ‘discipline’ (control), whose loyalty is always in question. There is a very strong and all-pervading occupational culture amongst prison guards that views any attempt to empower and humanise those over whom they exact an absolute degree of power as just another step to a liberalism that undermines and weakens the basic function of the prison – punishment and absolute control. It’s an attitude and culture that teachers working within prisons are confronted by every day, as well as a balance of institutional power firmly tipped in favour of the guards, who charged with maintaining the physical security of the prison will always inevitably label teachers who question their authority and power as a ‘security risk’, which is a sure way of getting them removed from the prison and recalled to a local college usually desperate to protect and continue it’s contract with the prison system. (more…)
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
From ABC Leeds:
John Bowden writes about his treatment at the hands of a megalomaniac social worker and an all too acquiescent Parole Board. Further articles by John, and others about his current situation and what you can do to help, can be found on the Leeds ABC website.
In June of 2011, the Parole Board for England and Wales finally carried out its statutory obligation to review my continued imprisonment after 32 years of captivity. Its official terms of reference were clear and straightforward; to be reassured that I represented no risk or danger to the public, (the main legal criteria determining whether a life sentence prisoner is safe to be released or not), and that I could be safely managed or supervised in the community beyond prison. (more…)
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
From ABC LEEDS:
Day of Action in Support of John Bowden
Monday 11th June
John Bowden is a militant prisoner who has been inside since 1980 (and in fact for most of his life before then). He is serving time for a murder which happened 32 years ago, but John’s two co-defendants have been free for 20 years. John has been writing about, and fighting against, injustice throughout his time behind bars, building up a huge and impressive portfolio of articles about every aspect of the prison struggle. He has paid a heavy price for speaking out though, spending years in the most brutal segregation units, and being targeted for repression time and time again. We do not define John, a good comrade, by the crime he committed 32 years ago, and neither do the State. He is not in jail for what he did then, but for what he has done since. If he did not have anti-authoritarian politics, if he was not a man of integrity who always comes to the defence of his fellow cons, John Bowden would have been out years ago. (more…)
Monday, March 12th, 2012
It seems that the state and its loyal agents in HMP Shotts, Scotland, are currently manufacturing reasons to present to the parole board as to why John Bowden should be kept in jail. One of the entries in the ‘Parole Intelligence Summary’ says: “Intelligence provides that Bowden either posts blogs or has them posted on his behalf on the following website: http://breakallchains.blogspot.com/. Further intelligence provides that this website is pro-prisoner and anti-establishment. So it seems that even writing anything supporting prisoners’ rights is sufficient reason to keep John in jail – he’s not being kept in because they consider him a risk to the public. (more…)