RJN News: October 2016

ATTENTION: THE PENAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS COMING TO LONDON

The European Custody and Detention Summit is a trade fair for security companies, prison builders, and other profiteers to present new technologies that expand and privatise the criminal justice system.

The Summit is posing as a forum for providers and policy makers to share best practice and discuss the future of custody and detention. A closer look at the agenda and sponsors indicates that this event is not infact promoting the penal industrial complex, including the privatisation of criminal justice, the expansion of prisons, criminal justice and border enforcement.

The summit is taking place at the Tower of London on 15th and 16th November. It has been organised by the same networks involved in fossil fuel and arms trade meetings, such as the West Africa Oil & Gas Security Summit and the Eastern Europe Defence Summit.

Reclaim Justice Network are inviting other campaign groups to join us in protesting and boycotting the Summit.

  • You can read our full statement on why we are boycotting the summit on our website.
  • We are currently writing letters to all summit speakers and trustees of the Tower of London to reconsider their involvement in the event.
  • We are hosting a banner making session on 6th November, location TBD.

Campaign updates

Reclaim Holloway

Following the closure of HMP Holloway, Reclaim Justice Network (in partnership with Women in Prison) are building a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community to build homes not prisons.

Stop G4S

News

  • United Friends and Family Campaign, in collaboration with Black Lives Matter UK, held their 18th memorial march (video) on 29th October in central London. Families of those who have died in police custody, prisons and psychiatric hospitals march to Downing Street. They delivered a letter to the Prime Minister demanding justice for the victims of state violence. You can see images from the march here.
  • Stop Detention Scotland have formed a public coalition to campaign against the building of a new immigration detention center in Paisley. We are supporting the campaign, and you can read the statement here.
  • Gleeds, a global consultancy firm, have published a report and video advocating for the government’s prison building revolution, but suggesting they build small custodial units rather than huge titan jails.
  • Three serving police officers have been charged with perverting the course of justice and perjury over Kingsley Burrell’s death, who died in police custody in Birmingham in 2011.
  • The family of Jamal Mahmoud, the 21 year old father who was recently murdered in HMP Pentonville, staged a protest outside the Ministry of Justice, demanding the closure of ageing and ineffective prisons.

 

Events

  • London Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee and Radical Assembly South East London are holding a joint event on building resistance to prisons in the UK. The meeting will be held at The Field, 385 Queens Road, SE14 5HD on 14th November, 7pm.
  • Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC) are hosting a day demo and an evening public meeting against mass forced deportations. More info here.
  • Housing activists, including Focus E15 are holding a public conference and day school on resisting social cleansing.
  • Radical booksellers Housmans will be hosting ‘Writing Police Wrongs’, an evening of fiction and poetry readings related to police injustice, followed by conversation.
  • The Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative at The Open University are hosting a day event critically engaging with harm across the criminal justice system. Click here for more information and registration details.
  • Organisations, think tanks and housing activists have collaborated to present Land for What? a conference tackling the housing crisis. We will be running a workshop on our Reclaim Holloway campaign. You can register here.

If you want to receive more regular updates from the Network, please follow our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Posted in Newsletters

PROTEST the European Custody and Detention Summit, 15 November

On the 15th and 16th of November, the European Custody and Detention Summit is taking place at The Tower of London, described by the organisers as ‘the world’s original high security prison’.

The summit poses as a forum for providers and policy makers to share best practice and discuss the future of custody and detention. It is being supported by a number of penal reform organisations.

A closer look at the agenda and list of participants indicates that this event is not about progressive reform and social justice – this conference is about promoting the penal industrial complex. In reality, the Custody and Detention Summit is a trade fair for security companies, prison builders, and other profiteers to present new technologies that expand and privatise the criminal justice system.

Join us on 15 November calling for a complete halt to this event. We want an immediate end to profiteering that contributes to the expansion of unjust, racist, classist and sexist systems of punishment and detention.

Check out our Facebook page for updates on banner-making (Sunday 6 November) and demo (Tuesday 15 November).

Background

The summit is being organised by “International Research Networks”, organisers of fossil fuel and arms trade meetings such as the West Africa Oil & Gas Security Summit and the Eastern Europe Defence Summit. In the past, G4S and Thales have sponsored their events and security companies like these are likely to be in attendance that this event.

The European Custody and Detention Summit website tells us that;

“Over two days on 15th & 16th November in London, more than 250 leaders from across the European custody & detention sectors will hear from over 35 speakers, take part in workshops & roundtables, with technology demonstrations and extensive networking opportunities.”

It is a business-networking opportunity costing private sector attendees £1595 to go. The companies participating in the event are key players in developing the technology and providing privatised services for policing, prison management and building, and border control.

The publicised technologies on show include:

  • Surveillance (CCTV, Thermal, X-ray full body screening)
  • Biometrics
  • ‘screening visitors and suppliers to detention facilities.
  • Electronic Tagging
  • Demonstration of ‘anti-drone technology’, new ‘prison infrastructure’ and ‘tracking technology’.

The publicised sessions include:

  • Securing safe transfer and transportation of people in custody
  • ‘the noble art of governing prisons’
  • ‘public procurement in the European Custody and Detention Sectors’.
  • Surveillance technology in custody

Stop the privatisation of criminal justice

  • The UK has the highest per capita number of private prisons in the world. The private sector are responsible for delivering services across the criminal justice system to include policing, custody, prisoner transportation, court services, children’s prisons, probation – the list is endless.
  • This event will enable more profit to be made from the punishment, incarceration, surveillance, detention and deportation of people.
  • Privatisation not only reduces accountability within the criminal justice system but creates a profit incentive to draw more people into systems of punishment.

Stop the expansion of prisons

  • The expansion of private prisons has coincided with a rapid expansion in the prison population in the last 25 years.
  • The criminal justice system disproportionately targets working class people and people of colour. For example, in 2010 the proportion of black and minority ethnic people in prison in the UK was almost seven times the percentage of black people in the general population, whereas in the US the proportion of black prisoners is four times greater than the percentage of black people in the population.
  • This conference is about ‘maintaining and developing custody and detention facilities’ – however, the only way to reduce the racialised and classed violence and deaths in custody is to drastically reduce the number of people in prison.

Stop the expansion criminal justice.

  • Under the guise of restorative justice and prison alternatives, new technologies of surveillance and state have widened the reach of criminal justice. These technologies often extend the powers of the Criminal Justice system rather than replace more punitive measures.

Stop criminalised border enforcement

  • Border enforcement is a heavily privatised form of policing that imprisons 30,000 people per year in administrative detention. This exposes people to the violence of imprisonment and forced transportation purely on the basis of race and immigration status.

Oppose the European Penal Industrial Complex Summit

What is the penal industrial complex? 

“Throughout the criminal justice system, combinations of state bodies and voluntary sector organisations have increasingly been joined by private sector companies to manage and deliver services. Academics and activists have labelled this expanding marketplace as the “prison industrial complex”. Empty Cages Collective describe the prison industrial complex as not just prisons, but the “mutually reinforcing web of relationships, between and not limited to, for example, prisons, the probation service, the police, the courts, all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners”.

Globally the prison industrial complex is a multi-billion pound industry that draws together private and government interests. It profits from using policing, prisons and punishment as a response to social, political and economic problems. It is a self-perpetuating system targeting the poor, people of colour and those most vulnerable to detainment, such as those experiencing mental health, drug or alcohol problems. It reinforces and recreates inequalities, ensuring there is an endless supply of people to feed into the criminal justice system”
(Don’t blame us, blame the prison system)

(Image used is from Last Hours)

Posted in Events and Meetings, Police, Prison Profiteers

Stop Detention Scotland campaign against the new immigration centre

Reclaim Justice Network are supporting Stop Detention Scotland‘s campaign against the UK Home Office’s plans of building a new immigration detention centre near Paisley, Renfrewshire. Continue reading

Posted in Immigration detention

Reclaim Holloway

Holloway women’s prison in North London has closed and agents Bilfinger GVA have been appointed to advise the government on the sale of the land. Despite promises from government that improving prison conditions was a priority, the women of Holloway have simply been relocated to other prisons outside of the city making resettlement and family contact difficult. Continue reading

Posted in Reclaim Holloway

RJN News: September 2016

Campaign updates

Reclaim Holloway

Following the closure of HMP Holloway, the Reclaim Justice Network has been working with others to build the Reclaim Holloway campaign for council housing and services on the site of the prison. HMP Holloway is public land. Reclaim Justice Network in partnership with Women in Prison are building a broad-based, local campaign to ensure the site is protected for benefit of women, Londoners and the local community. Build homes not prisons!

  • The government has announced it will be selling the site and investing the money in the building of 5 new prisons by 2020. Agents Bilfinger GVA have been instructed to advise on the sale of the site.
  • Recent news sources report that up to 5,000 homes could be built on the 10 acre site, netting as much as £2 billion for developers. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies have queried this, suggesting a more likely figure is 500 – with an average cost of £500,000.
  • Women in Prison are currently exhibiting a patchwork quilt, Bird Word, created by women in HMP Holloway in 2012. The exhibition is only open to MPs and Peers, but we will be posting more information on our website soon.
  • You can still support our Reclaim Holloway campaign by signing and sharing it.
  • If you are a local resident of the Holloway area, a campaign group or organisation wanting to get involved with Reclaim Holloway, please contact us at reclaimjusticenetwork@gmail.com

Stop G4S

The government is in line to give G4S the contract for a discrimination hotline, despite the serious human rights breaches the private firm has committed.

  • Liberty has written a letter to the government, expressing concern over the decision to allow G4S to run the Equality Advisory and Support Service. Human rights and equality groups, including Inquest, endorsed the letter and supporting statement that detailed G4S vast list of sexism, racism, discrimination and mistreatment of vulnerable people in the firm’s care. The letter can be read here.
  • SumOfUs has started a petition to tell Justine Greening, the Minister for Women and Equalities, that G4S shouldn’t be handed the helpline due to the company’s record of abuse and assault. Please join the Reclaim Justice Network in signing and publicising the petition.
  • Members of the Reclaim Justice Network have taken action against G4S every year at their AGM, questioning the international security firm on recent scandals. Read the report on 2016’s meeting here.

No More Prisons

Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, recently confirmed at the Justice Select Committee that 5 new prisons would be built by the end of this parliamentary session, despite not knowing whereabouts or with what budget. The Justice Select Committee has published the transcript, with discussion of future prison builds starting at Q31.

  • We oppose the Ministry of Justice’s ‘prison building revolution’. You can see our statement and sign our moratorium on all new prison buildings here.
  • The Network are critical of plans to modernise the prison estate through new prison buildings. The Ministry of Justice recently projected the prison population in 2021, will still be 84,000.

News

Events

  • Exploring Harm and Evidence is an all day event intending to critically engage with notions of harm and evidence across the criminal justice system and public and private institutions. Click here for more information and registration details.
  • Various organisations, think tanks and housing activists have come together to present Land for What? A two day conference on 12th and 13th November in North London, to tackle the housing crisis and widening inequality. Reclaim Justice Network will be running a workshop on our Reclaim Holloway campaign. Read more about Land for What and register for the conference here.
  • The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign are hosting an all day event on many current issues of injustice. The event, Agitate, Organise, Resist: Justice Conference 2016 will be held in Sheffield on 1st
  • Our friends at Empty Cages Collective are holding workshops on the prison industrial complex and new prison builds in Hull, Leeds, Durham, Manchester, Lancaster and Sheffield as part of their Northern tour. The workshops will be held in collaboration with the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee.
  • The Royal Society of Medicine is hosting a day panel event on Suicide in Custody and the Harris Review – Lessons Learnt on 14th
  • The London Anarchist Bookfair is taking place on 29th October in North London, including a workshop on the New Frontlines Against Prisons.
  • The Birkbeck Institute for Social Research are holding an event on Risk and Vulnerability in Prison Populations, discussing the social, legal and ethical complexities of incarcerating such a large population, when the majority are non-violent.

If you want to receive more regular updates from the Network, please follow our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Posted in Newsletters

Petition: Stop G4S winning discrimination helpline contract

Please sign the Petition to stop G4S winning the contract to running the government’s discrimination helpline.


Information from the petition:

“This is unbelievable. The government is handing over the running of its discrimination helpline to G4S. Continue reading

Posted in G4S

Tell GMCA: No New Prisons In Manchester! Demonstration on 10/08/2016

Our friends at Manchester No Prisons have organised a demonstration on August 10th to protest Manchester’s new prison build. Join them to demand that Greater Manchester Combined Authority commit to a ban on new prison construction in Manchester, and stand in solidarity with the past, present and future victims of the country’s criminal justice system. Continue reading

Posted in Events and Meetings, No More Prison

G4S: Don’t blame us — blame the prison system

Rebecca Roberts reports on the recent G4S annual general meeting that took place on 26 May 2016.

Throughout the criminal justice system, combinations of state bodies and voluntary sector organisations have increasingly been joined by private sector companies to manage and deliver services. Academics and activists have labelled this expanding marketplace as the “prison industrial complex”. Empty Cages Collective describe the prison industrial complex as not just prisons, but the “mutually reinforcing web of relationships, between and not limited to, for example, prisons, the probation service, the police, the courts, all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners”. Continue reading

Posted in G4S, Prison Profiteers | 1 Comment

G4S: A global leader in human rights?

Below is a copy of a letter sent to Ashley Almanza, G4S Chief Executive Officer and John Connolly, Chair of the G4S Board of Directors by Dr David Scott on Friday 27th May 2016 following a discussion with themselves and other board members at the close of the 2016 G4S AGM.
Continue reading

Posted in G4S, Prison Profiteers | 1 Comment

Reclaim Holloway

The Reclaim Justice Network, in partnership with Women in Prison have launched a new Reclaim Holloway website and petition.

Holloway prison is due to be closed this summer and the land will likely be sold to property developers to build luxury flats that very few people can afford. We believe that the prison’s closure is an opportunity to protect and invest in community facilities and women’s support services, such as for domestic violence and mental health. Please sign the petition and support our campaign.

In May 2016, a demonstration was organised by the Reclaim Justice Network and Islington Kill the Housing Bill. Labour leader and local MP, Jeremy Corbyn, spoke at the start of the march from London Metropolitan University to Holloway prison. He said the site must be used for council homes with secure tenancies and a women’s centre.

A member of the Reclaim Justice Network, speaking at the demo, said

“We want facilities and housing and places of safety for the women of London. The land at Holloway is our property. It is owned by the public and we must not give it up.  We want social justice, not criminal justice.

We want council homes, not prisons and we need services not prison sentences.”

Clare Cain, Campaigns Manager for the charity Women in Prison and writing for politics.co.uk explains why we want to see a different approach and the thinking behind the campaign;

“Solving the housing crisis will go a long way to reducing the prison population. Many women who are released from prison are forced into homelessness. Often their only options on release are to stay in an exploitative environment revolving around substance misuse, return to an abusive partner, street homelessness, or go back to prison. At WIP we’ve met women who are eligible for licence and release from prison but continue to be held inside because they have nowhere else to live. Prisons are being used as cover for the grave shortfall in housing and this urgently needs to be addressed.”

Sign the petition on the change.org website

Related links;

Posted in Reclaim Holloway