Prisons and the Criminals who run them

Prison Uniforms

In a move that seems to be driven by little other than sheer vindictiveness the Tory dominated government has decided to target prisoners in jails in England and Wales. From today new admissions to male prisons will be forced to wear the degrading prison uniform for two weeks. On top of that they are also to be denied access to TV and the gym during the working day.

Tory Justice Minister Chris Grayling is said to be particularly annoyed about prisoners having access to television. If prisoners rights advocates and groups are unable to block him Grayling is likely to strike out at reading material next: damned annoying that prisoners are allowed to read anything other than the bible. How that might be reconciled with a current prohibition on sexually explicit and violent material might prove a difficult task for Grayling

Uniforms for male prisoners were struck out in England and Wales in 1991, ten years after the republican hunger strikes led to them being abolished in prisons throughout the North of Ireland. Women were no longer forced to wear them after 1971. Now there is to be serious regression for the men.

The move was criticised earlier this year when it began to gather pace. Juliet Ash who wrote the book Dress Behind Bars  characterised it as an "old-fashioned public school mentality." And with the Tory public school background it is a policy that might make sense to them.  Ash said:

All the inmates I spoke to said the real problem was wearing other people's underwear. So it's not just regulating the external look of the body, but it is physically humiliating. Often the washing facilities are not adequate – so you get back other people's stained underwear. Rehabilitation doesn't take place more easily if you feel humiliated.

Adrian Needs, a forensic psychologist pointed out that the first two weeks in custody is the high risk time for suicide 'so it is probably not the best time to rub in all that people have lost.'

This is precisely what it is all about: Tory class culture rubbing it in when it can - outside, degrading the deprived, inside, punishing the prisoners.

Belmarsh Violence

A man accused of the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby has lost two teeth after being battered by screws in London's Belmarsh Prison. Five members of the Belmarsh prison staff were suspended after the brutalised man, Michael Adebolajo, complained during a remand hearing. The incident is now being investigated most likely prior to being covered up. 

In a move typical for the Prison Officers Association, its chairman Peter McParlin accused the authorities of overreacting. In his view the prisoner most likely tried to bite the batons held by prison staff. McParlain claimed restraint techniques were designed to minimise injuries to staff or prisoners but that 'sometimes there are unforeseen consequences in any violent incident'. People who have experience of this technique know it is a way to allow prison staff to use violence that can cause considerable pain while leaving few marks. It is to dominate, control and humiliate the prisoner.

In 2009 a report on Belmarsh described as ‘extremely high’ the amount of force used to subdue prisoners.  In spite of this two years later a woman would write in the wake of her father being attacked and beaten by screws that:

‘it has come to light that the DST officers are systematically assaulting, brutalising and violating any prisoners who do not submit totally to their twisted regime. These so-called prison officers are not adhering to the Prison Service’s guidelines, and have become a law unto themselves.’

Maghaberry Out of Control

Being a law unto themselves is not something exclusive to Belmarsh prison staff. Most prisoners probably feel it is endemic within the prison system.  A former Maghabery governor, Steve Rodford, earlier this month told the Appeal Court that Maghaberry 'had many members of staff there that were way out of control, the way they were operating as prison officers ...' He even felt they had tried to intimidate him in a bid to have their writ run unchallenged in the jail.

Prisoners in Maghaberry have been complaining for years about the behaviour of prison staff there. Progress is invariably thwarted by the backward looking Prison Officers Association. The prison service is the one institution in the North to have thus far evaded even minimal reform.

A good barometer for measuring the human rights mindset of any society is how it behaves towards those it has banged up. In jails run by the British things are going from bad to worse. A perverse and pathological penal policy will produce people that mirror it.


  1. The nail in the coffin regarding any chance of reform or Patten,s recommendations being implemented was well and truly banged shut when first minister Pete the punt threatened to bring down the ass-embly if the crown was removed from the badge of the screws here, the subservient silence of quisling $inn £einds showed all and
    sundry who rules the roost here,this has inflated the ego,s of those bigots in uniform and with a tory right wing government hell bent on a return to Victorian style prison systems then we can all look forward to a serious increase in the amount of attacks on prisoners and possibly more deaths within the prison system due to this unregulated bullying.brutality and harsh regimes did not work in the past. how the fuck do those in power think they can succeed in their Machiavellian plan is beyond any logical reasoning. their stupidity could well be the match that could ignite a powderkeg that blows apart the outdated prison system here.

  2. AM-

    " Decided to target prisoners in jails in England and Wales "-

    A disgraceful decision if this happens and prison uniforms make a hated come back for any prisoner be they innocent or guilty-

    Its obvious they wont bring this change into Scottish prisons-[ yet ] because of the referendum next year and they don't want to admit that thatcher conceded to the IRA/INLA POWs back in 1981 so it wont come back here-not even the tory's are that stupid-
    they would

  3. SF acquiesced in handing out huge "golden handshakes" to the scumbag screws here (just like the cops, who decided to "retire" early). And what happened? They all (most of them anyway) went on to join private security firms guarding the courts and transporting prisoners etc. The main topic of this thread (about the way prisoners are being treated) is just par for the course for Tories. The only good thing is, the Lib Dems will pay for their treachery at the next Brit election (being human shields for the Tories)though I hope people don't knee jerk and vote for Labour, around 50-60 independents to hold in check whoever gets power would be a more preferable outcome.

  4. No doubt the DUP will be pushing hard to have that draconian measure implimented here. If they did it should be an isue that stops every republican in their tracks. Lets hope this regressive step is not brought forward here as the so called peace proccess would be over immediately, no matter how far SF would be willing to bend just to keep the gravy train on track.

  5. Feel te love,

    don't be surprised if they trot somebody out to say Bobby and the others didn't die to allow these traitors to wear their own clothes.

  6. In Guantanomo, a prisoner is lucky if he gets through a day without being raped. You won't hear irish American lawyers/ RSF USA or Peter King condemn that.

  7. "In Guantanomo, a prisoner is lucky if he gets through a day without being raped."
    do you have anything to back up this absurd claim or are you just throwing out nonsense? Guantanamo needs to be closed but this accusation is garbage.

  8. While Sf sit on there arse and let the dup run rings around them because they got what they wanted, SF in a british run wee 6c, SF will sit back and accept these draconian laws because all's they can see is £$€. what a shower of shite.

  9. No fan of the current police state that exists here in the US, but Alan can you substantiate your claim that Guantanamo prisoners are being raped?

    If they are, then they are being raped by their fellow Muslims.

  10. The local jail near where we lived in the states, had the prisoners wear jail clothing. Very disgusting at it. I had direct contact with several prisoners and they had to wear underwear that is worn by every person who comes through the jail. Orange briefs with orange socks, orange t shirt and heavy blue jumper with matching trousers and prison slippers. Very degrading. Saddest part is, some where only in jail for an unpaid parking fine or being caught with a joint.
    I have also seen the food they are given. I honestly would not give it to a dog.

  11. When privatisation of the jails hit here, it will get a whole lot worse.

    The penal system will become harsher, stricter, on petty crime to ensure there is a steady flow of work through the prisons and profits year on year rise, maybe in line with inflation. lol.

    There is two million African American males in prision in the USA, at any given time, that is more than were enslaved pre lincoin.