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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 ?



Hide the following 8 comments


02.06.2007 10:44

Yes. I'd be interested in being a passive member/supporter of a Scotland ABC but far too many commitments to be involved in starting/running/maintaining another group.

You'd be better off posting this on and leave some kind of way for interested people to get in touch with you. Also try

Even a monthly letter writing group would be a start. And putting out prison abolition information.

A few of us have talked about it on and off for several years now, so there is interest, just not the energy so far to move it forwards. We're all Glasgow based.

Good luck! Look forward to hearing more about it.


i agree

02.06.2007 15:07

i agree with all gingers comments,
and also there are a number of people in edinburgh talking about setting up a ABC scotland.
so definately make a post on


Article has been reposted

03.06.2007 13:15

The article's been copied over to, let's see what response it gets...

friendly elf
- Homepage:

Propsal for an ABC Scotland blog

03.06.2007 14:21

with links to prisoner blogs

- Homepage:

good idea, the scottish prison system is a nightmare

04.06.2007 00:02

I wrote to a couple of mates who done time in scotland, and now what they are doing to John Bowden, who was in an open prison and due b4 the board, yet cos he is a very militant anti-prison activist who has a lot of solidarity with his fellow cons, and who has written a lot of good articles for, amongst others, brighton ABC - his new social worker had a couple of interviews with him and showed a great interest in john's anarchist views,, and then following a visit from a couple of members of brighton ABC who aint even got records, and who social worker matt stillman called terrorists and which a local paper reported as castle huntly killer receives visits from terrorists, john was kept in solitary and the next day sent back to a max sec although he had broken no rules or anything, but seemingly, cos of his political beliefs.
Having read his accounts of scottish prisons and spoken to him, i'd definetely agree there is a need for a scottish ABC. as well as the ones you mention - there is also one in Manchester, and the one in Belfast was started up again recently. can't think of any others off-hand tho.
there is another protest for john outside parole board in london on the 8th. please come if you can or if not send cards and e-mails.
We can't allow the state to set a precedent where they punish inmates they cannot break even after 25 years cos of their political convictions.
And the ABC's do a lot of good work world-wide, we can't let them be demonised as terrorist groups, feck knows the agents of repression would be laughing if we came to a situation where cons wre scared to contact the ABC's for help.
i'm in london, so can't help, but good luck with this project.
will repost on a scottish bloke i know who has a forum which has a lot of traffic and readers, and anywhere else i think off.
in solidarity, mich

m.caroline F.T.S.
mail e-mail:


07.06.2007 17:48

Why do certain anarchists seem to be preoccupied with prisons? There are currently no class struggle prisoners in this country and their are more important areas to be organising in and around (workplaces, local community issues). If class struggle was high in Scotland/Britain at the moment I'd say this was a good idea but class struggle is very low at the moment so this, at best, could just be a distraction from more important issues.

Class struggle prisoner solidarity is important but right now these prisoners are more likely to be overseas so setting up an ABC in this country would serve little as international solidarity could be built through the present anarchist groups (Anarchist Fed., SolFed)

mail e-mail:

who is this 'we'?

07.06.2007 22:15

"After all, apart from the middle-class life-stylers, prison is where we end up."

what we? who we?

and which political prisoners was this that you visited then?



08.06.2007 14:24

Some Anarchists can always find an excuse for sitting on their arses and doing fuck all.