A look at the future of the prison building programme
Last month, families, friends and supporters of prisoners commemorated Prisoners' Justice Day outside Woodhill prison in Milton Keynes. The event, held every year on August 10th, remembers the many deaths in prison each year, through suicide or neglect by prison officers. This year had special significance as the demonstration demanded the closure of the closed supervision centre or control unit at the jail.
Opened last year the unit, one of 3 in operation, is an end of line measure by the prison service to control long term inmates who refuse to capitulate to the whims of the prison regime, and for prisoners who struggle for justice against wrongful convictions. Woodhill is one brutal example of a prison culture, developed over the last decade which aims at total control and isolation over prisoners and their environment.
Britain is fast moving towards an American style prisons regime where, in addition to being incarcerated in poor conditions, prisoners will be expected to contribute to the costs of their incarceration! In the states this policy has been in existence for several years, where private companies are invited in to use contracted prison labour. In these particular instances, large US corporations looking to slash labour costs, need not relocate in other parts of the world - they already have a captive labour force in their own country - quite literally!
As America shows, locking people up is great for business. With a prison population quickly moving towards the 2 million mark, there is a massive available labour pool who are paid up to 80% less than the US minimum wage. Corporations already cashing in include: TWA - who use prisoners in California to work as flight reservation specialists; LTI - employing prisoners to build and fix circuit boards to supply electronics firms such IBM, Texas instruments and Dell; AT&T - the large telecommunications corporaion, using Colorado prisoners as telemarketers and Exmark - who profit from Washington prisoners packaging software products for Microsoft. American Express and Kentucky Fried Chicken are major investors in the private prison building schemes stateside, which hold around 70,000 prisoners.
Not surprisingly, we can expect similar schemes to be imported into Prison Camp UK in the next few years: the 2 largest US private prison building companies, the Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut already have prisons in Britain, with more to follow. As one sick bastard investor in prisons said, " I used to invest in hotels. But with prisons, I can guarantee 100% occupancy rate every night"! This attitude which sees prisoners as potential cheap labour is fast attracting support from sections of the establishment. Lord Woolf has been a long time advocate of making prisoners "earn their keep" in prison.
On the offensive
Opposition to the prison building programme is starting to take shape, and contractors and construction companies look set to be targeted in this country. An effective prisoners support movement is desperately needed, and one which goes on the offensive, attacking the profiteers making millions out of the suffering and incarceration of people, as well as one that can provide effective practical support and communication channels for prisoners fighting back.
What You Can Do
Get involved in prisoners support! There's loads of 'em in need of it!
For more information on supporting prisoners contact:
London Anarchist Black Cross, 27, Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX.
Over 15 anarchists picketed the Czech embassy on 30th July in support of comrade Michal Patera, who faces serious charges for shooting a fascist in self defence. For more info see our prisoners page or contact:
Solidarity Federation, PO Box 1681, London, N8 7DN.
After fighting between locals and asylum seekers flared up in Dover during the weekend of 14th-15th August at the local fair ground five people were injured. Labour party Home Office officials are using the atmosphere of fear and hate to help push through their own racist legislation - in the form of the Asylum and Immigration bill.
After reducing Serbia and parts of Kosovo to rubble with massive bombing raids in the name of 'humanitarian war' this state now attacks working class refugees of war as they arrive in Dover by leaving them open to assault. Home Office minister Lord Bassan asserts that "The town is overcrowded" but "we can take powers to ensure that we get clusters of asylum seekers more properly dispersed across the country". Does he mean into detention centres and jails? The NF and BNP have had several tiny demonstrations in Dover since 1997 which have bolstered racists confidence in the area. One local paper, the Dover Express is known to have a campaigning role against immigrants.
But racism is always of benefit to the state and capitalism as by generating suspicion and anger against members of our class from abroad this countries elite can further sabotage any unity, strength and power.
Still, we've got to give the Labour Party a chance. It will take time to build a new batch of prisons and gulags.
Dover Residents Against Racism can be contacted at:
DRAR c/o Refugee Link, PO Box 417, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 4GT.
The campaign against the National Front in Dover has it's own website at:
May Day 2000 - a festival of anarchism
An initative supported by the Anarchist Federation has been launched to have a May Day conference in London next year. Building on the successful Bradford '98 conference and the unity in action shown on J18, MayDay 2000 promises to be the event of next year. A 3 day festival of revolutionary ideas and action to be held at a large London venue, with top speakers, loads of meetings, stalls, 2 big gigs and a mass action on the Monday. This will be a great opportunity to get together large numbers of people interested in revolutionary change.
The next planning meeting is being held at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London (near Holborn tube) on September 15th at 7.30pm. A meeting will also be held at the Annual Anarchist Bookfair.
Come along to put forward your ideas, find out how you can get involved and discuss it all.
BM Mayday, London, WC1N 3XX
With an enormous number of laws now available to prevent workers on strike having any chance of winning we look back at how in 1920s America the Industrial Workers of the World overcame similar problems. An IWW member explained:
"Now that the bosses have succeeded in dealing an almost fatal blow to the boycott; now that picket duty is practically outlawed in many sections of the country, free speech throttled, free assemblage prohibited and injunctions against labor are becoming epidemic - now sabotage, this dark, invincible terrible Damocles' sword that hangs over the head of the master class, will replace all the confiscated weapons and ammunition of the workers in their war for economic justice. And it will win, for it is the most redoubtable of all, except for the general strike. In vain will the bosses get injunction against strikers' funds, as they did in the great steel strike - sabotage, as we practice it is a more powerful injunction against their machinery. In vain will they invoke old laws and make new one's against it - they will never discover sabotage, never track it to it's lair, never run it down, for no laws will ever make a crime of the 'clumsiness and lack of skill' of a scab who bungles his work or 'puts on the bum' a machine he 'does not know how to run', but which has really been 'fixed' by a class conscious worker long before the scab's coming on the job. There can be no injunction against sabotage. No policemans club. No rifle diet. No prison bars."
No to work!
This quote is taken from the excellent book 'Dynamite: a century of class violence'. It's available from AK Distribution, PO Box 12766, Edinburgh, EH8 9YZ. or visit http://www.akpress.org
The Industrial Workers of the World are still around and their British section can be contacted at: IWW, F.Lee, Secular Hall, 75 Humberstone Gate, Leicester, LE1 1WB or visit http://www.iww.org
There is also an excellent modern pamphlet about ways people have found of fighting back at work. It's called 'A ballard against work' and it's available on the internet from:
The 121 CENTRE anarchist squat was evicted 6.30am Thursday 12th August, after 18 years and 6 months occupation.
150 riot police backed by an armed squad and a helicopter sealed off Railton Rd and adjoining streets before bursting into 121 through the first floor window. Within minutes the 8 occupiers had been removed and the council went about trashing and barricading the building. A van of police continue to guard the building 16 hours later. Another van load were stationed at the Town Hall building to guard against anti-council action. Protests and other actions against the eviction and planned auction of the building are currently being put together. The friends of 121 are asking people to join the howls of protest against the council's evil actions and the continuing gentrification of Brixton. You can do so by emailing or faxing people on their hit list. The protest is aimed against the following people whom we ask that you send a nasty message (or black fax). This is a legal action so fax- Lambeth Legal Service- The people who put the case against 121 and the eviction together. Fax- 0171 926 2313 Nelson Bakewell- The speculators who want to sell off 121 along with hundreds of other properties to line the council's pockets. Fax- 0171 544 2299. Save 121 Hit List. Lambeth Council- C/O London Borough of Lambeth, Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW. Tel- 0171 926 1000 Lambeth New Labour. Fax Number- 0171926 2844. Email- firstname.lastname@example.org (New Labour are the party currently in control of the council and therefore the ones most responsible for attacks on 121. Specify email messages for New Labour- New Lambeth). Brixton Challengeemail@example.com (The organisation responsible for the increasing gentrification of Brixton).
A Czech anarchist squat is now also under threat. More info: Zeme predevsim! - (Earth First! Prague),PO BOX 237, 160 41 Praha 6, Czech Republic. email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/1651
Gordon Brown, Labour's Chancellor of the Exchequer, wants to put a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square. Some of his little spin doctor friends must have told him that this would get Labour votes amongst women because Sylvia was one of the Pankhurst family who campaigned militantly for votes for women.
What they forgot to tell him was that Sylvia believed in using direct action to get this including smashing windows! What they also forgot to tell him was that during the first world war Sylvia's politics changed to those of being an anti-parliamentary communist, active in the East End of London and editing the paper Workers' Dreadnaught. We in the Anarchist Federation regard these years of Sylvia's activities as part of our tradition.
- Hang on though. In the last part of her life she ended up supporting the emperor Haile Selassie (tut!, tut!) of Ethiopia, because she saw him as a fighter against Italian Fascism and imperialism (Mussolini had invaded Ethiopia). So maybe gormless Gordon is trying to get the rasta vote!
Jack Straw, Labour's Home Secretary, after bashing dope smokers and single mothers and the mentally ill has got another easy target to scapegoat lined up - travellers and gypsies. On the day that police turned out in huge numbers to harass a gypsy wedding in Coventry he described them on a local radio station as into "burgling, thieving, breaking into vehicles and causing all kinds of trouble and getting away with it."
Straw made out he was not attacking "law abiding" gypsies. But Straw's nasty little outburst will not only whip up hatred against travellers and gypsies. Whilst Labour and their chums go on about institutionalised racism they themselves are quick to use prejudice and racism if they think it will make them more popular with 'middle England'.
John Prescott, who recently fell out with his dad because he said he is middle class has attempted to gain some working class cred. To try and claw back support from traditional Labour voters he's come out with a bit of fake class war talk having a go at "upper toffs". But John, you were right in the first place! Your salary and your role in a government and party that is viciously anti-working class proves this!
RACISM RIFE IN BRITAIN'S RICH
As well as Jack Straws attacks on travellers and the media frenzy against asylum seekers we've been treated to Prince Philips vehement outburst about Indians and Jeffory Archers attack on black women. Racism is rampant in the boss class and as the system continues to rot it oozes forth like pus from a boil.
VICTORY IN YASNOGORSK
Workers occupying a Russian factory have forced the bosses to give in to all their demands after a long and violent struggle. The workers of the factory realise that they need to continue the struggle towards proletarian revolution or their successes will be finally destroyed.
SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
Cops in the US have complained that pepper sprays are ineffective against people used to eating very hot food. This is a vital piece of information in the struggle against capitalism. Already a crack team of Anarchist Federation cooks are re-writing the anarchist cookbook to include curry powder, chillies and tabasco sauce in all recipes.
YET ANOTHER FUCKWIT
Sir Leon Britain, vice president of the European Commission has written to the White House complaining that the World Trade Organisation is being too obviously influence by big business. He wrote: "We are striving in the EU to demonstrate to civil society that the WTO is not a business-driven, unaccountable rich man's club." Well he can demonstrate all he likes but that won't stop the WTO being exactly a business-driven, unaccountable rich man's club.
GO AHEAD PUNK
Ultra nationalists in Japan have been enraged by a punk band covering the national anthem. The resistance music critic is not sure that such top lyrics as "May the reign of the emperor continue for a thousand generations, nay eight thousand generations" are really material to mosh to.
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