Bristol ABC / Letters I Wish I'd Written meeting 21st May 7-9pm Kebele Social Centre 14 Robertson Road, BS5 Tea, coffee and biscuits provided www.kebelecoop.org Bristol ABC, in conjunction with the Letters I Wish I'd Written group,is having it's regular monthly meeting this Wednesday at the Kebele Social Centre. Contact information for prisoners requesting support will be available, as well as postcards, envelopes and stamps. Everyone is welcome - please join us to write much needed letters of solidarity to prisoners throughout Europe and North America. There are several anti-fascist prisoners seeking support, so we especially need people who can write in Italian, Greek, Czech and Russian. We also welcome any ideas for support campaigns as well as suggestions for the long-running campaign to support the Angola 3 in the United States. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you've got any questions about the meeting or are unable to attend but would like us to pass on news about prisoner support campaigns and events.
See the BBC News report here:
Althought the Prison Service claims that comparisons between the private and public sector prisons are irrelevant because of different ways of collecting data, it would be good to keep this prisons ‘league table’ in mind when the government is handing out contracts for the Titan prisons it intends to start building soon…
“Today the government gives its response to the Corston report – published earlier in the year it was set up to look at the state of women’s prisons. Its most radical recommendation was that women’s jails should be abolished within ten years and replaced with community based centres.”
So while the Venue writer thought it funny and entertaining that anyone would consider abolishing prisons, in the case of women’s prisons, and the subject of the original post that attracted the Venue writer – this is exactly what is being proposed.
It should also be noted that this government, having rammed the prisons to capacity and beyond is planning to splash out another £1.2 billion on jails;
“The government is to build up to three supersize prisons, holding about 2,500 inmates each, as part of a programme to tackle the overcrowding crisis by increasing jail capacity by 10,500 places within seven years.
The justice secretary, Jack Straw, announced that he had secured an extra £1.2bn, on top of £1.5bn already committed, for a building programme which will see the capacity of jails in England and Wales increase to 96,000 by 2014.”
We wonder how much of this windfall will go to private prison contractors? How much will the new jails make people feel safer? Given the high proportion of people inside for economic crimes – unpaid debt and so forth, readers may find the following thread useful;
Avoiding Debt, and avoiding prison
The film is incredibly hard-hitting, based on the real-life experiences of a doctor working inside the prison, and covers the 1992 police massacre of prisoners.
For more details about the prison, the massacre and the film, click here.
In a recent Venue mag (26 oct – 4 Nov) one of their writers decided, “[Bristol Indymedia is the] Home of the leftie and anarchist activists and assorted nuts, trolls and fairies. Should be read as entertainment rather than information. We particularly recommend the recent thread about abolishing prisons and being nice to criminals” Now Bristol ABC believes that they are talking about the article ‘Public Meeting – Campaigning against prisons‘ at Kebele where Pauline Campbell came to talk to people about her struggle for justice following the suicide of her daughter in custody. We were unaware that the suicide of a child is ‘entertainment’ – but in some sections of the press, those living outside a perceived higher standard of wealth and education are simply there for ‘entertainment’ – this is nothing short of class prejudice. We’re sorry to report it goes wider that just Venue.
Regarding the women in prison for Venue’s ‘entertainment’; would the Venue writers take the issue seriosuly to hear it from somebody posh before they are prepared to acknowledge what is happening in jails, especially women’s prisons – that they are not working – would Baroness Corston do? “For most women who offend, prison does not work; it is inappropriate, unnecessary, and damaging. Women offenders and those at risk of offending need local community-based provision based on women’s centre models such as the Asha Centre and the Calderdale Women’s Centre, which are close to families and networked into local services. To reduce crime and improve women’s lives it is crucial to address women’s complex needs, including poverty and debt, mental health problems, abuse and domestic violence, addictions, and housing.”
Shame on venue for bundling up suicide, prison abuse, poverty and the debt trap as nothing more that their ‘entertainment’. Most of us understand how shit the system can be, perhaps that’s why Venue is struggling with circulation – because its writers are busy tapping away about life in the Ivory Tower while the rest of us have to live in it’s shadow.
Yesterday the Guardian published the first UK mainstream media interview with somebody who has been well known in radical circles – Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia is a former Black Panther activist, a former radical journalist who covered the MOVE story and a victim of the system who has been wrongly convicted of shooting a cop – and so for the last 26 years he has been on death-row fighting both for his life and against a brutal system of injustice:
Abu-Jamal spends 22 hours a day alone in his cell – except at weekends, when it’s 24. For two hours between 7am and 9am every weekday he has the option of going out into the yard – or “cage”, as he prefers to call it. It is 60ft square and fenced on all sides, including overhead. Because “air is precious”, he rarely refuses, but not everyone takes up the offer. “People have different ways,” he says. “I know some guys who play chess for hours and hours, shouting the moves between cells. Some guys argue with other guys. Some guys used to enjoy smut books, but they’ve stopped those now. A lot of guys don’t come out. I think it’s depression. You get tired of seeing the same old faces. The role of television is the illusion of company, noise. I call it the fifth wall and the second window: the window of illusion.”
For more on him and his struggle see: http://www.mumia.org/
Big thanks to all the bands who played to a packed-out and enthusiastic audience at The Junction (Stokes Croft, Bristol), helping us raise a whopping £300 for prisoner support.
It was great to see the enthusiasm of all involved in highlighting this important issue.
Special thanks to Badger for putting it all together, Kebele for bringing the info-stall and to Jesus Bruiser, Born/Dead, 7 Crowns, and War/System for playing some amazing music (and making our tinnitus that much worse)…