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Call for a Scottish ABC

SickCat | 02.06.2007 01:18 | Repression | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements

I went to my first prison-support visit today, within spitting distance of God's Country.

A living hell in God's country
A living hell in God's country

And what beautiful scenary, what gorgeous surroundings to cage people indoors in. I couldn't see the cells, or the views for the cells, and I didn't ask if the surroundings made it better or worse to be inside. I turned up early though, took a walk around the prison, visited the local towns, talked to some locals about what their opinions of the prison were, checked out the security just out of habit. I couldn't break out of there from the inside. More importanty, if I was a prisoner there I wouldn't survive. The regime is polite, but brutal. Not as over-populated as some prisons, but more repressive It isn't the prison-warders themselves seemingly, it is the middle-class 'over-class' that runs prisons nowadays, the social-wokers and psychologists etc, they are the repressive lot. If you are a victim of crime, of course you want retribution, but you have to think, how much retribution do you want and how much rehabilitation ? Cos the retribution is obvious but the rehabilitation is not.

I went in to visit a political prisoner. Coming out, I offered a lift to some other con's girlfriend. She told me her lovers cell-mate was currently on hunger-strike. He had been told he would get parole if he moved from an ordinary prison to a high-security prison to attend 'non-violence' training. So he moved prison to get the training in the hope of training before his imminent parole. He was then told the course was booked up for the next two years and he'd have to wait for a third year, which basically adds two years to his sentence at a time the prisons are full to overflowing. He could starve to death for a valid argument and we wouldn't hear about it until a brief mention in the tabloid press afterwards. I don't know the first thing about that prisoner. He was not who I went in to support, he is not political, I don't even know his name. He is starving himself at this moment and there is no information on him available on the outside. And this is far from unusual.

It comes down to political influence on sentencing policy. There are more women inside than ever yet far fewer females are convicted of offences- how does that work ? The prisons in England are medieval because they are crammed full of shopliftters and other people who could be dealt with other ways.

The prisoner I went to visit is unbowed. He has a certain brave fatalism. Last year I thought I was going to die, my doctor told me as much, and I had the same glint in my eye that he has, a certain 'bring it on' determination. I don't have that anymore, I couldn't take a month of the nonsense he endures.

Maybe I am just speaking for myself, but we have overlooked for too long those of us who get caught up in this hell. As far as I can see there is a Leeds ABC and Brighton ABC. There are a helluva lot more prisons than that in the UK. It's perhaps time to expand the ABC network again. After all, apart from the middle-class life-stylers, prison is where we end up.

So is anyone else up for a Scottish prisoner-support group ?



Display the following 8 comments

  1. Yes! — ginger
  2. i agree — Jon
  3. Article has been reposted — friendly elf
  4. Propsal for an ABC Scotland blog — blogger
  5. good idea, the scottish prison system is a nightmare — m.caroline F.T.S.
  6. Why? — ChrissyBoy
  7. who is this 'we'? — sean
  8. ... — Mark