Letters from Kevan Thakrar from the isolation units of England (UK)
From a comrade of ABC Brighton:
A secret world exists within the high security prison estate in England, known as the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. It is notorious amongst the few who know of it, a place only the most unfortunate men ever see. Reports of serious mistreatment and torture are routine from the victims detained within the CSC, but almost nothing is ever done about the biggest demonstration of inhumanity to take place in this country.
In order to excuse this torture chamber, the dehumanization of CSC prisoners begins at a very early stage of official justifications for the creation of the CSC system, which focus on the need to contain a new breed of unmanageable and unpredictable risks. It continues with the creation of classificatory categories of ‘dangerousness’ which objectify prisoners and make more of the category and less of the human in them, and it is reinforced by the tightly controlled and highly regulated routines in CSC’s, treating prisoners as highly dangerous creatures, capable of superhuman acts of violence – not quite human and in need of the extreme oppression the CSC provides.
When it comes to the ‘worst of the worst’, isolation is wrongly seen as a necessity but insufficient measure by prison management. In addition to isolation and extremely restricted movements, prisoner in-cell provisions and their belongings are carefully regulated and subjected to relentless scrutiny and inspection. Detailed attention to security concerns are always maintained even though the majority of these concerns are baseless, and daily operations and procedures are pre-planned according to worse-case scenarios. Prisoners remain in CSC units for years, decades even, made frustrated, angry and bored by their experiences with few avenues to vent their anger and with almost no opportunities to advance through the system. All perceived acts of disobedience or non-compliance by CSC prisoners, even of the most minor or petty, are responded to forcefully and brutally by gangs of prison officers clad in full riot gear who show no mercy when regaining complete control and demonstrating their authority and power, sanctioned by Prison Service management at the highest levels. The official reason for all forms of hypercontrol over CSC prisoners are security considerations, but rather than controlling violence, as they officially aim to do, such highly controlled environments breed it as well as causing severe suffering for prisoners.
Since CSC guards are directly authorised to perform acts involving the use of force and over-diligence in carrying out their tasks is always tolerated if not encouraged by their superiors, they do not need to engage in soul-searching moral assessment of the treatment of prisoners labeled as the ‘worst-of-the-worst’. The social distancing between ‘us’ and ‘them’ instilled by the CSC training provided to prison officers urged to see themselves as a ‘team’, and environment of the CSC allows for the treatment of prisoners in a way that would have been inconceivable had the guards viewed them as people like themselves. As Garland (1990) found “……professional penal agents [who] tend to represent themselves in a positive, utilitarian way, as offering a particular service, or carrying out a useful social task, as a way of avoiding bad conscience and cultural infancy”, are unlikely to come forward with the truth of how badly they treat CSC prisoners or take the necessary steps to improve the conditions within these hell-holes.
On top of the brutality is the psychological assault on CSC prisoners which works in two parallel dimensions, isolation increases levels of frustration and anxiety, and it also decreases the available avenues for relaxing such tensions. A study by McCleery (1961) noted that over time, symptoms experienced by isolated prisoners are likely to mature into either homicidal or suicidal behaviour. Rather than controlling violence then, CSC confinement leads to irritability, anger, and violent outbursts which can seem unprovoked.
Having now spent 6 years subjected to the unofficial punishment of allocation to the CSC myself, it is clear that without real pressure to force the required change nothing but more negative and oppressive measures will be added. With it known that “oppression and ugliness can only lead to alienation and aggression” Fairweather (2000), it makes you wonder if Prison Service management want this or are too stupid to consider the impact of their actions. With the way the media were manipulated following the suicide of Joanne Latham on the CSC last year, maybe the arrogance of the management leads them to believes that whatever the consequences of the CSC system, they can deal with them as they have done since it was created in 1998.
It has long been suspected that my detention has been political, too many suspicious events lead to that view. During my third trial which resulted in me suffering from a miscarriage of justice back in 2008, the convictions which cause my imprisonment, an MP sat alongside the trial judge. My appeal against these wrongful convictions were dragged out until 2010, where three judges arbitrarily rejected my submissions without ever providing a reasoned explanation. Then there were the false allegations of assault laid against me by prison officers from HMP Frankland which were used to justify my placement into permanent solitary confinement within the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. Following the court finding me innocent of this in 2011, I have remained on the CSC without review.
Now these events may have been unconnected initially, but the way in which they continue to be linked more frequently as times goes by is clear to see. The ridiculous media propaganda has never stopped, and become more distorted with every report in an obvious attempt to mislead the public into being against me and hide the real facts. The evidence that demonstrate if I were not originally a political prisoner, I am now, can be found from various sources.
In 2014, the then Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP, abused his parliamentary privilege to make derogatory remarks about me in the House of Commons. Other MP’s made statements to the local media of a similar nature at the time including Nadine Dorries, who had not long been back from a trip to Australia for I’m a celebrity. Crimewatch featured, presumably as they were portraying it as a crime, a successful county claim I had won following the deliberate damage and loss of my property by prison officers. Never before has this program covered a similar story, but to twist it so that I was not the victim in these circumstances was prejudiced nonsense.
Matters have kept escalating, the most recent example being through the misinformation reported by the Daily Mail supplied to them courtesy of the Ministry of Justice. I see no point in individually addressing each error in their article, it is the information they glossed over which is of interest. The MOJ claims to have spent £100,000 defending legal actions by me, including spending thousands of pounds to defend against giving me less than 10% of that routinely. Although the biased reporting does everything possible to seek to blame me for the MOJ’s costs, the question taxpayers should be asking is why are these obviously legitimate cases being defended at all? The MOJ are quoted as saying “we robustly defend all cases, as far as the evidence allows”. I can confirm that even when it is blatant that the MOJ are at fault, and I offer to settle at a minimal cost, they have always refused and milked the case for every penny possible dragging the matter out at maximum cost to the taxpayer.
How does it makes sense to spend, as an example, £5,099 in an attempt to defend a £50 payout? Currently the MOJ have appealed half of a £1000 award at a cost likely to reach £5000 not including court costs, with no chance of success as regardless of the decision they still lose more money. Why is this allowed? Surely someone at the Treasury Solicitors must be employed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis prior to considering a defence?
The political element present is that the funding to add the oppression I am subjected to is specifically for me, if I lodged a claim in another name I would not face the same show of force. But then to lead misleading information to manipulate the public against me takes it to another level. Chairman of the Justice Select Committee added his two pence with stupid, ignorant remarks which add to the hostility against an innocent prisoners. Typical political spin, Bob Neill MP said ‘It is scandalous that [I]…. Can abuse the system to pursue what is clearly a campaign against the prison service’. It is and always has been the MOJ who abuse the system and I am the victim of their campaign against me. I would love to have no reason to seek legal redress, but unfortunately the Prison Service deem it acceptable to subject me to torture with the full support of the MOJ, and refuse to put an end to my mistreatment.
If they are upset about this massive waste of money, a few possible options would be to settle all my claims instead of vexatiously defending; stop abusing me so I have no need to claim; remove me from the CSC so I face less targeting; or release me from prison to the freedom I should rightly have. If not they should stop moaning and take responsibility for their won costs! I didn’t choose to be a political prisoner, but I am not going to sit by allowing my torture to continue unchallenged.
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
Close Supervision Centre
5 Love Lane
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Thursday 21st July 12.30pm – 2.30pm
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This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 7:51 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.