Hungry for Change: Starving within English Prisons

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Article by Kevan Thakrar

When I was first kidnapped by the state and imprisoned through the process they call remand back in 2007, I received three hot meals a day served at 8 am, 11.30 am, and 6 pm, as well as an evening snack to help reduce hunger through the long hours of lockdown overnight from 8 pm until 8 am. Since then, the swingeing cuts inflicted by the tories on public sector spending coupled with the removal of centralised mandatory minimum spending amounts for food budgets, along with the unsatiable demand by the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) for increased staffing levels, has caused the quality and quantity of the food provided to imprisoned human beings to be decimated.

To be clear, nobody would ever argue that the food standards in prisons in 2007 were good, decent, or nutritious, except possibly through the fake news and propaganda pushed from the right-wing tabloid press and government; but it was from this already low-bar that prison governors have chosen to drop them further, choosing to spend the money trying to pacify the POA’s never-ending demands instead. Pilfering from the food budgets has left the national average amount spent per prisoner per day at a miserly £2.16 to cover the entirety of the food served in each 24-hour period.

Making matters worse, this figure of £2.16 is actually distorted upwards by the costs of the supplements provided to pregnant women, formula for the caged babies in the mother and baby units, enhanced nutrition required to maintain growth of the imprisoned children, and most significantly by the scam that sees exorbitant fees paid to maintain those registered as Jewish receiving externally sourced Kosher meals from a profiteering single supplier. The true average for adult male prisoners is therefore closer to the £2 per day mark, however this figure also includes all of the wasted food as well as that which is stolen and consumed by prison officers, so is still not accurately reflective of what is actually served. Furthermore, this amount is less than half what the prisons spend to feed the so-called prison guard dogs.

With this pittance allocated for the food budgets, it will come as no surprise to learn that these days only one hot meal is served in each 24-hour period. Breakfast has been reduced to pre-packaged sugary cereal, usually only 20g of rice crispies, with 189ml of UHT long-life milk rather than the 250ml of fresh milk they used to provide. Governors know that this ‘breakfast’ is so insignificant that it is actually delivered at ‘dinner-time’ the afternoon before, and takes the place of the evening snack which has also been withdrawn. Lunch has shrunk to an 85g pack of instant noodles or a single bun with a smear of margarine on one-half, and the filling is routinely only a single slice of processed cheese, served with a biscuit. The vegetables at dinner now look like they glow-in-the-dark, and the slop they accompany comes in such a small portion that you do not have time to fully appreciate just how bad it tastes. As for the dessert, instead of prisoners making it using fresh ingredients keeping costs low, pre-packaged processed cake bars or defrosted oranges that taste like they died years ago enable kitchen managers to count every penny. £2 is never going to stretch very far…

To accommodate the POA demands to keep prisoners locked-up all day, the times that meals are served has been condensed to less than a 5-hour period. Lunch is at 11.30am still, but breakfast and dinner now both come together at 4pm, and earlier at 3.30pm on weekends. The long hours of hunger which this causes are exacerbated by the meagre portions served which often total only 1000 calories per day, less than half the recommended daily allowance for an adult male, and less if located within segregation and the prison officers refuse to provide even that.

For those few prisoners who have money sent-in to them from family or friends, they can supplement this lack of food with purchases from the weekly canteen order. However, as well as no longer being available on a daily basis or functioning like the food shop that they used to, the limited choices available now, and cost of them, restrict most orders to little more than junk food; so keeping healthy is impossible. Furthermore, these expenses leave less funds available to maintain contact with those outside prison through the exorbitant costs of phone credit, and for correspondence materials including the ever more expensive postage stamps, causing these relationships to suffer and dwindle over time.

Inevitably, enduring this hunger leads to anger and desperation. Violence has become routine, and even those able to bolster their diet using their own money struggle to stay calm with the minimum 22-hours a day lockdown regimes that the POA insist upon. With inflation at 10%, the deterioration of the food and prison conditions continues to be compounded with the system stuck in a negative spiral that jeopardises the lives of us held hostage by the state. As the prison population and overcrowding continue to rise, it is certain that the trajectory will carry us into a desolate environment with this oppression effectively through malnutrition leaving space for no more than the survival of the fittest. Already those with underlying and/or chronic health conditions who would be safe in society are being killed-off through this inhumane diet and detention within these stress inducing cages. This is the reason that life expectancy for imprisoned people is significantly reduced in comparison to those who are free. How much further can food standards be allowed to drop and how many lives can be allowed to be lost before becoming too much, or do the lives of imprisoned human beings not count?

Kev Thakrar

As well as suffering from a miscarriage of justice having been convicted under the controversial and discredited legal doctrine of joint enterprise, Kev is one of the 50-men within English prisons to be detained within the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system under Rule 46 of the Prison Rules 1999. When the Segregation Units disappear people, the CSC is where they end-up. This is the front-line in the battle against state violence where you must resist or capitulate, and Kev more than any other continues in the struggle as a champion of the people. In 2021 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture raised the conditions of his detention with the government1, and he is taking a judicial review of the policy of allowing indefinite segregation which enables his ongoing solitary confinement due at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 25th and 26th April 2023.

Please help combat his isolation and help him endure the state inflicted torture by writing to him at:


NEW ADDRESS – HMP Manchester, Southall St, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M60 9AH

Additionally or alternatively, cards can be sent to him via WWW.FUNKYPIDGEON.COM or photos through WWW.FREEPRINTS.COM, and it is also possible to email Kev using WWW.EMAILAPRISONER.COM. To help cover the costs of Kev maintaining contact with us outside, and of supporting him, please donate to:

Read more from and about Kev on WWW.JUSTICEFORKEVAN.ORG


Ryan Dwyer has been moved

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Ryan has been moved back to HMP Rochester. You can write to him at:

Ryan Dwyer A4276AT
HMP Rochester, 1 Fort Road Rochester, Kent, ME1 3QS

Urgent call for support for Bristol ABC

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Thanks so much for your incredible support so far. Because of you we have been able to distribute over £55k toward supporting the KTB prisoners!

But we still need your help. There are currently 20 people in prison for the Bridewell uprising. Many of them are serving long sentences, and Ryan Roberts will be in prison until at least 2029.

The cost of providing £50 a month canteen money to 20 people is £1000 a month. On top of that we regularly buy things like clothes and books, and pay travel costs for friends and family to visit. We are down to about £2k in reserves. So we really need your continued help and support.

Our costs have been considerably increased by the need to fund visits to two prisoners who are being held in Kent. Its vital that these to people, who are serving two of the longest sentences, get support. We have been arranging visits for them every month.

We have also been giving money to help people get back on their feet when they are released from prison. With your help we can increase this support.

Please help us to reach our stretch target of £70k. Thank you so much for all your incredible solidarity so far.

Bristol Anarchist Black Cross

Donate here:

International Action Alert: Support Jorge

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Solidarity with Mexican Political Prisoner Jorge “Yorch” Esquivel Muñoz 

Friday, May 19, 2023


Jorge is being criminalized as part of an ongoing attack against the “okupache” squat in Mexico City. Despite the overwhelming evidence that proves his innocence, the arbitrary arrests and police brutality he has been subjected to, and a legal case that have been plagued with irregularities since day one of this set up, Jorge remains injustly locked up in the Reclusorio Oriente prison. His hearings have been constantly postponed, which is a common practice with political prisoners in Mexico since it allows the State to draw out the legal process  so as to keep them in prison as long as possible. Jorge’s next hearing is this Friday, May 19th, and we need your support to demand justice for our compañero.

Act! Call! Email! Post!
⚪ Contact or organize actions at your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate and demand for justice for Jorge Emilio Esquivel Muñoz at his hearing this Friday, May 19, 2023.

⚪ Share with your friends, family, communities and  collectives about Jorge and the many other political prisoners in Mexico.

⚪ Send a letter and/or drawings to Jorge in prison.

⚪ Make graphic art, paintings, stencils, etc. to bring visibility to Jorge’s case.

Sample text:
My name is _ and I am concerned for the political prisoner Jorge Emilio Esquivel Muñoz, currently being held at the Reclusorio Oriente prison in Mexico City. It is clear that this case is a set up and that he is being criminalized by for his political work as part of the “okupache” squat at the UNAM university because his case is filled with irregularities, he suffered arbitrary detentions and police brutality at the time of his arrests for the same case in 2016 and 2022, and the evidence proves his innocence. I demand that justice be served in Jorge’s hearing this Friday, May 19, 2023 and that he be released immediately.

Support Danny!

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Support Danny!!!! Danny was recently sentenced to 4.5 years for fighting back against police attacks on the Kill the Bill demo in Bristol in March 2021. He has been punished for daring to defend himself and others. 

We are proud of Danny and all who stood together that night.  Letters can be a real lifeline for prisoners so let’s let him know he is not alone and show our solidarity.

You can send him a card or use 

Write to: Daniel Ellis A5725EY, HMP Bristol, 19 Cambridge Road, Bristol BS7 8PS

Please also keep donating! The monthly support costs for people in prison, their families to get to see them and other solidarity costs are pretty eye watering. All donations and fundraising efforts appreciated more than you can know!!!!

Never alone – never forgotten.

Support Debbie!

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Debbie is an IPP prisoner at HMP Eastwood Park seeking support. Her original tariff was 3 years – she has now served over 14 years. She has been to hell and back before and during her sentence.

She is a survivor of rape, gang rape and forced prostitution. She has been criminalised because of her drug use as a response to these traumatic events. Like thousands of other IPP prisoners, she is trapped in the system with no support. She recently lost her mum who was her main support and now she has no-one. Bristol ABC are asking for folks to support Debbie!

Please send Debbie a letter, card or email via email a prisoner to:

Debbie Fitzpatrick A5506AC, HMP Eastwood Park, Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucester, GL12 8DB

She writes about the IPP sentence:

“I used to be a happy go lucky person but now I’m so depressed because I’m never going to be free of this sentence. It’s broke me, took my personality, moulded me into a long suffering depression and PTSD. I don’t get support, I just lost my mum, no one cares about us. We are just left to rot and forgot about.

It is so sad that us IPP have done everything – changed our ways, become a better person to where there is nothing else we can change but never get the chance to breathe, be free, go on holiday, get our own place, nothing is allowed. I committed my crime in 2008 and it’s now 2023. We are lost souls just existing not living”.