RJN News: March 2017

Campaign updates
NEW PRISON BUILDS
Reclaim Justice Network has directly opposed the government’s ‘prison building revolution’, and the construction of nine new prisons across England and Wales. The government has recently announced the four new prison sites earmarked for expansion. A brand new mega prison will be built in Port Talbot in South Wales, while HMP Hindley in Greater Manchester, HMP Rochester in Kent and HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire will be demolished and rebuilt at approximately triple their size with 1,000 extra places.
Against these plans too?
STOP G4S: Do you want to get involved in the 2017 G4S shareholder action?
Members of the Reclaim Justice Network will be attending G4S’ AGM as shareholders on 25th May (venue TBD) to question the Board on their role in criminal justice industry.
  • Are you interested in becoming a shareholder and joining us in holding G4S to account? Just send your full name and address to wsmcmahon@yahoo.co.uk and we will transfer a single share into your name.
  • If you cannot become a shareholder but would like Reclaim Justice Network to ask the G4S Board a question on your behalf, please e-mail us!
  • Read our reports from the AGMs over the last three years: 2016 report, 2015 report and 2014.
RECLAIM HOLLOWAY
Following the closure of HMP Holloway, Reclaim Justice Network are now working closely with the Reclaim Holloway coalition to build a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community.
News
Events
In solidarity.
Posted in Newsletters

Campaigners blockade Charter Flight

Last night, activists from a coalition of migrant solidarity groups blockaded a charter flight leaving for Nigeria and Ghana.

The campaigners from End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) and Plane Stupid say this is the first time this kind of direct action has stopped a mass deportation charter flight.

The activists held up ‘No One Is Illegal’ banners as they camped out on the runway to stop the flight. The blockade was live-streamed on Stop Charter Flights’ Facebook Page.

The campaigners point to statements made on the website Detained Voices that detail some of the threats faced by those being removed on the Charter Flight.

One woman on the flight said: “My ex-husband said he knows I am being deported. He is waiting for me. He is planning to kill me. If he kills me- who will look after my children?”

Another male deportee said: “I have been in this country for almost 18 years. My family and my life is here in the UK. If they take me back to Ghana I will kill myself.”

Charter Flights are specially commissioned flights used to remove people under the cover of darkness to Pakistan, Albania, Nigeria, Ghana, and Jamaica. Charter Flights

Reclaim Justice Network wishes to express solidarity with those threatened by charter flights and the campaigners resisting the flights. We hope it sparks a critical debate about mass removals, the immigration detention system and racist state violence more widely.

 

Posted in Immigration detention

Reclaim Justice Network response: New prisons will lead to waste of life

STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The government’s prison building programme will lead to a tragic waste of lives and resources, says the Reclaim Justice Network in response to the announcement of four new prisons in England and Wales.

We need a frank and honest debate about the negative impact of new prisons on local communities. New prisons can have potentially negative impacts on the community including pressure on local services, concerns around safety, loss of jobs through prison industries, harmful consequences on the families of prisoners (especially children) and deterioration in local health care provision.

The only ‘winners’ here are the companies profiting from the construction of these vast institutions. As with other prison building programmes such as at the recently opened HMP Berwyn in North Wales, the government has made unsubstantiated claims about the so called ‘benefits’ to local economies and communities.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr David Scott, a member of the Reclaim Justice Network said,

“Given the historic failings of the prison to meet its rehabilitation goals and the current tightening of government budgets, when it comes to dealing with overcrowded prisons the most sensible and rational approach is to reduce the prison population. We should not be spending taxpayers’ money on new mega prisons but rather reinvest the proposed money to help ordinary people live decent and fulfilling lives in the community.”

Prisons are places of violence, suffering and death. The prison building programme is a hugely emotive issue and will lead to a tragic waste of resources and lives. If the government was serious about creating safer and healthier communities then they would focus on investing in welfare provision, education and health care for all.

NOTES:

1. Pressure has been mounting on the government since the start of the year to halt the £1.3bn prison building programme. Grass roots organisations, including Reclaim Justice Network, Reclaim Holloway, JENGBA, INQUEST, Action for Trans Health and SMASH IPP are calling for a moratorium on prison building.

2. Reclaim Justice Network is a collaboration of individuals, groups, campaigners, activists, trade unionists, practitioners and researchers and people most directly affected by criminal justice systems, who are working together to radically reduce the size and scope of criminal justice systems and to build effective and socially just alternatives. www.downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com

3. Dr David Scott is a member of the Reclaim Justice Network at works at the Open University. He has been researching prisons for more than 20 years and has published 8 books on prisons and punishment.

ENDS

Posted in No More Prison, Press releases

The public should know where new prisons are to be built

by Dr David Scott

The general public should know as soon as possible where the planned new prisons in England and Wales are going to be built. On the 7th March an appeal failed challenging the non-disclosure in a recent Freedom of Information [FOI] request, of a number of councils currently in talks with the Ministry of Justice [MoJ] to build a new prison. The appeal supported the original decision that under the public interest test it was important to withhold some of the councils who submitted plans so that there could be “a ‘safe space’ in which the early stages of discussions of this nature can be carried out between the Council and government officials”. If we are going to discover the location of the new prisons then alternative ways of finding out information need to be explored. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Comment and Resources, No More Prison

Where are the new ‘Mega Prisons’ going to be built?

STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Where are the new ‘Mega Prisons’ going to be built?

Data released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed possible locations for new prisons. The information was made public following a request from Dr David Scott on behalf of campaign groups Reclaim Justice Network and Manchester No Prisons.

This new data provides a list of Local Authorities in England and Wales that submitted plans to the MoJ in 2016 regarding suitable land for building a new prison in their area and gives an indication of where new prisons may be built. The list, however, is incomplete and campaigners are critical about the secrecy surrounding the government’s £1.3bn prison building programme.

20 of the Local Authorities that submitted plans to the Ministry of Justice in 2016 regarding suitable land for building a new prison in their area have been revealed:

1. Bassetlaw District Council
2. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
3. Braintree District Council
4. Cheshire West and Chester
5. Corby Borough Council
6. Derbyshire County Council
7. Derbyshire Dales District Council
8. East Riding of Yorkshire Council
9. Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
10. Kent County Council
11. Lancaster City Council
12. Northamptonshire County Council
13. Rhonda, Cynon, Taff County Borough Council
14. Rossendale Borough Council
15. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
16. Stafford Borough Council
17. Swale Borough Council
18. Tendring District Council
19. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
20. Wellingborough Borough Council

Dr David Scott of The Open University speaking on behalf of Reclaim Justice Network and Manchester No Prisons, said:

Although this is only a partial list of the submissions, it is significant that the 20 Local Authorities are concentrated in certain regions. The South East of England, East Yorkshire and the North West of England are all well represented. Alongside this, there is also a strong correlation between the disclosed list of applications and Ministry of Justice records on the most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales.

“Whilst there are other Local Authorities that have submitted plans (and presumably these are the councils most likely involved in discussions with government), if we read between the lines we can perhaps assume that the next three proposed mega prisons – each housing up to around 2,000 prisoners – will be located in regions that correspond with the highest prison crowding rates in England and Wales.

“Given the historic failings of the prison to meet its rehabilitation goals and the current tightening of government budgets, when it comes to dealing with overcrowded prisons the most sensible and rational approach is to reduce the prison population. We should not be spending taxpayers’ money on new super-sized prisons but rather reinvest the proposed money to help ordinary people in the community and ensure that all people have access to decent health care, welfare provision and education.”

Pressure is mounting for the government to halt the £1.3bn prison building programme. Organisations, including Reclaim Justice Network, INQUEST, Smash IPP, British Society of Criminology and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies are calling for a moratorium on prison building.

Contact:

Dr David Scott works at the Open University. He has been researching prisons for more than 20 years and has published 8 books on prisons and punishment. Contact: 07838245382

Reclaim Justice Network is a collaboration of individuals, groups, campaigners, activists, trade unionists, practitioners and researchers and people most directly affected by criminal justice systems, who are working together to radically reduce the size and scope of criminal justice systems and to build effective and socially just alternatives. Contact:
07818414717

No Prisons Manchester is an organisation fighting against a proposed mega-prison in Manchester and the expansion of the Prison-Industrial Complex generally.

Notes:

(1) The full information request and response can be viewed here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/local_authorities_that_submitted

(2) The recent disclosure of 20 Local Authorities who have submitted proposals was released in line with Regulation 2(1) (a) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

(3) Writing on behalf of the MoJ , Miranda Wilkinson maintained that although it is important to promote the transparency of public affairs and demonstrate that local authorities are acting in the interests of the taxpayer, under the public interest test it was considered important to withhold some of the councils who submitted plans so that there could be “a ‘safe space’ in which the early stages of discussions of this nature can be carried out between the Council and government officials without the inhibiting threat of premature publicity”.

“Premature disclosure that the Council(s) in question have been in correspondence with the MoJ, about something as potentially emotive as the location of a new prison, would likely result in prolonged diversion of resource from service delivery to handling enquiries from the media and concerned stakeholders, who may wrongly conclude that our assessment of potentially suitable sites is more detailed or advanced than is the case.”

Other negatives of announcing the possible locations of the new prisons were highlighted when explaining non-disclosure. “Potential investment in their areas may be delayed or abandoned if it was wrongly felt likely that a prison in their area is certain or imminent. This has commercial implications for other organisations concerned, their communities and the Council itself.”

ENDS

Posted in No More Prison, Press releases

Stop building prisons!

The Ministry of Justice has submitted planning applications for the construction of TWO new 1,600 place prisons at HMPs Wellingborough and Glen Parva.

You do not need to be a local resident to register your objections. Just click on each of the links below and press the ‘make comment’ button. It is very simple – and should take just few minutes to complete. Continue reading

Posted in No More Prison

RJN News: January 2017

Campaign updates
Reclaim Holloway
Following the closure of HMP Holloway, Reclaim Justice Network are now working closely with the Reclaim Holloway coalition to build a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community.
  • Reclaim Justice Network is sponsoring an upcoming demo on the 18th February to call on the Ministry of Justice to loan the visitors’ centre at HMP Holloway to a partnership of local community groups, so that it can be run by them in the interests of the community.
  • Want more updates? You can follow the emerging community plan for Holloway via #plan4holloway
  • Reclaim Holloway coalition continues to meet every Wednesday at the Hilldrop Community Centre in Islington, and can be contacted here.
New Prison Builds
The government has announced a ‘prison building revolution’, committing to the construction of 9 new prisons across England and Wales. Reclaim Justice Network opposes these plans.
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In solidarity.
Posted in Newsletters