Post-Tariff Life Sentence Prisoners, The Parole Board And My Continued Incarceration

Unknown.pngThere is currently a massive population of “post-tariff” life sentence prisoners over-crowding British Prisons.  Lifers who remain detained long beyond the time originally recommended by the judiciary or secretary of state, which includes prisoners sentenced under the IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) Law. Although this law has been scrapped, it has left a legacy of thousands of prisoners still languishing in jail.  Britain has more life sentenced prisoners than the whole of Europe combined, a consequence of a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” culture and mentality that pervades the bourgeois judiciary and justice apparatus, as well as a Parole Board that exists just to legitimise what is in reality the unlawful detention of thousands of prisoners. “Preventative Detention” was created by the Nazi Party in Germany in 1939 to “cleanse” society of anti-social elements and Britain is a zealous inheritor of that instrument of repression, while British prisons are now little more than modern day concentration camps, full of prisoners with no hope of release.

The collaboration of the Parole Board in unlawfully detaining Post-Tariff lifers who represent little or no actual risk to the community was typified in a parole judgement on my own case in June 2017, when after 37 years of my imprisonment, more than ten years beyond the original judicial recommendation, the board denied my release for nakedly political reasons. Officially, the position of the Parole Board when considering the release of post-tariff life sentence prisoners is determined by evidence of continued “risk to the public” and whether it is necessary for “public protection”. If there is evidence, release is denied.

On the 14th June 2017, a five hour parole hearing here at Swaleside Prison established conclusively from imports and evidence, that any actual risk I represented to the community was non-existent, so the Parole Board simply moved the goal posts and focused instead on my politicised “anti-authoritarianism” and refusal to obediently accept and comply with the omnipotent power of the prison system. I would continue to be detained not because I represent any sort of risk to the community, but because I have a “deeply held mistrust of authority” and because “your political affiliations could prove risky”. In fact, the claim is that it’s not the public or community that I represent a threat to, but to those enforcing the power of the penalogical state. To support this claim the boards quoted a report from a prisoner system hired psychologist who wrote: “Bowden will perceive professionals responsible for his supervision in the community as part of a larger corruptive system. This then provides him with an ideological justification for engaging with violence against them. Victims here are likely to be those in positions of authority and the type of violence could be severe, based on opportunity.  Bowden is likely to be drawn into activist movements where violence is more easily justified. Victims here are likely to be people in authority who Bowden perceives to be advocating something he is against and could be severe given the likelihood to justify violence in such situations”. Equating my long history of struggling for prisoner’s rights with a risk of terrorism if I’m released says much about the reactionary middle class culture and mentality of the Parole Board, and also the sheer desperation of their attempt to manufacture a “public protection” rationale for my continued detention, when in fact none exists.

Quoting again from the prison hired psychologist report, the Parole Board decision says “Dr. Sorrow noted in her evidence that you had discussed with her situations where violence is justifiable, for the greater good, and to secure justice for the vulnerable. She was convinced that in the community this could be a “risk factor”.  So, because during an abstract discussion about the right of vulnerable groups to self-defence (I have expressed the opinion that such a right was inalienable), this made me a “risk” to the community. So because, in the words of the Parole Board, “you have seen violence as justified in some circumstances and you have a deeply held mistrust of authority”, my continued imprisonment is wholly justified and lawful.

My writing and distribution on the outside of articles exposing abuses of power by those working for the Criminal Justice System was also severely condemned by the Parole Board. Clearly my exposure of the lies of prison Probation Officer Matthew Stillman who, in a report to the Parole Board in 2007, claimed that I was linked to a “Terrorist Group” in the form of prisoner support organisation, the Anarchist Black Cross, was not going to be forgiven by the board. In relation to this it said: “The board sought your views about matters that were considered by previous parole hearings, specifically your on-line campaign against certain individuals. You told the hearing that there was a need to expose the behaviour of such individuals and the board considered that your claim did not demonstrate the insight and change in attitude that the previous panel had considered would be appropriate.”, i.e. no doubt silently accepting the power and authority, no matter how abusively used, of those responsible for my “supervision”.

Focusing on my political belief system and the support shown towards me by groups on the outside in distributing my writings was obviously felt by the board to probably be a questionable lawful justification for my continued detention, so it focused more specifically on my “difficult relationship” with the prison system as the ultimate rationale for my detention. In its final judgement it says “whilst the board entirely accepts that in 20 years there has been no prison violence, there remain concerns about your ability to deal with perceived unfairness and authority figures you consider are abusing their power.” In an attempt to prove or illustrate my “problem with authority” the board then completely distorts and misrepresents the facts relating to an incident in Greenock Jail in 2015 when I defended myself from a completely unprovoked attack from a prison officer. A court of law subsequently ruled that I had not acted unlawfully and there was absolutely no evidence that I had initiated the confrontation or assaulted the guard. The board, however, adopted a different perspective on the incident, claiming: “Whilst the board accepts that your views in relation to violence have changed, the board was concerned that when discussing the issue in relation to the most recent allegation of violence against a prison officer you felt that the officer was trying to humiliate you and, in the circumstances, physical conflict became the most likely outcome. The board was satisfied that this incident, whilst not leading to serious physical harm from to either you or the prison officer, demonstrates your attitude towards authority and your inability to manage your feelings.” When I pointed out to the Parole Panel at the hearing that I had defended myself from a physical assault by the guard, and the decision of the subsequent court hearing that there was absolutely no evidence that I had initiated the incident or behaved unlawfully, the board responded with the claim that I was being “defensive, argumentative, talking over the panel, and refusing to consider an alternative view”, even though they had to concede that “your actions whilst not leading to a finding of guilt, do nevertheless demonstrate your attitude towards authority”. In other words, the verdict of the court of law counts for nothing. For having the tenacity to remind the Parole Panel that even prisoners retained the human right of self-defence, the board, in visceral language, described me as “arrogant and self-confident” and dismissed, with contempt, my application for release after 37 years of imprisonment.

The appointment of ex-prison inspector Nick Hardwick, who had witnessed the massive overcrowding of prisons with indeterminate sentenced prisoners, and the climate of despair and hopelessness that now plagues prisons, as chairman of the Parole Board promised, by his own words, a real shift in cultural attitude within the Parole Board and a significant increase in the number of post-tariff lifers released. His words were predictably empty and the Parole Board continues to deny the release of thousands of lifers, without any “public protection” justification at all. “Life means life” continues to guide the decision-making mentality of the Parole Board, and as a consequence they have created human warehouses festering with rage and overflowing with hatred that will sooner or later ignite into open and desperate rebellion.

John Bowden, A5026DM,
HMP Swaleside,
Brabazon Rd,
Eastchurch,
Isle of Sheppey,
Kent, ME12, 4AX

June 2017

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Free Tony Taylor! Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Derry

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Several hundred people marched through the streets of Derry this afternoon to demand the immediate release of Derry political prisoner Tony Taylor, interned without trail by the British State for 500 days. In marking this occasion of his 500 day of incarceration Anarchists in Derry joined with the relatives, friends of Tony Taylor including other a number of republican organisations, socialists, trade union and human rights activists, the largest seen in the city for a number of years.

At the Guildhall Square as the marchers rallied each speaker to the platform call for the continued support for the Taylor family and the end to selective internment without trial of political activists.

Leading up to todays rally a spokesperson for the Free Tony Taylor campaign said “Tony was arrested on March 10th, 2016, in full view of his family whilst on a shopping trip and taken to Maghaberry Prison where he continues to be held today on the signature of the British Secretary of State following the revocation of the release licence he received in 2014.

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“The Northern Ireland Office alleged Tony was a risk to the public based on an MI5 assessment, an assessment which clearly does not warrant criminal charges or a trial. Three weeks after Tony was returned to prison it was ruled that the original order to detain him was in contravention of article 28 (2) (a) and (b) of the Criminal Justice Order (NI) 2008.

“Tony’s solicitor Aiden Carlin stated that the refusal of the Parole commission to follow recommendations and release Tony at this juncture was in contravention of section six of the Human Rights Act in conjunction with articles 5 (1) and 5 (4) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Tony’s legal team have recently served a High Court Writ on the Secretary of State in a claim for damages arising from his initial 3-week unlawful detention.

“On May 2nd, 2017, the Parole Commission for Northern Ireland began a four-day review process into Tony’s case which at that point represented an unreasonable delay in context of Article 5 and the Right to Liberty.

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“The review process consisted of one open hearing during which Tony was questioned, two closed proceedings from which Tony and his legal team were excluded and a summary hearing which took place on May 30th. A judicial review to examine the lawfulness, necessity and proportionality of Tony’s recall is currently being pursued.

“Tony Taylor’s recall is regarded as internment under its latest guise. Internment was used in the 1970s as a repressive tool of the Stormont regime and whilst the name has changed the fundamental fact that people are being denied their liberty in the absence of due process cannot be disputed.

“The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 promised the people of the north a ‘new beginning’, an ‘era in which justice would be done and be seen to be done’ and measures ‘compatible with a normal and Peaceful society.’ The Free Tony Taylor Campaign would take this opportunity to stress that closed court proceedings, MI5 supremacy over policing in the North and internment have no place in any normal or peaceful society.

“We would again call on the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire to release Tony Taylor back to his family who continue suffer as a result of his arbitrary and unjust detention.”

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This afternoons march and rally was also used to highlight the current situation across the six countries in which activists can be selected by the state and removed from their loved ones and community simply because they hold an opposing political opinions to what the establishment would like us to have.

Amongst the many banners and placards from the various groups and organisations in support of the release of Tony Taylor, Anarchists in Derry carried a banner in solidarity which read ‘Stop Repression Free All Political Prisoners!’.

One local anarchist activist said “No matter what the political views of Tony Taylor are, as anarchists we will continue to support him and his family’s ongoing fight for justice, which is why we continue to support and attend demonstrations such as todays. Its vital that we add our voice to demand his immediate release. We feel that this fight, above all else, is a human rights issue that everyone, anarchist, socialist or republican should be concerned about.

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“We are totally opposed to prison system in all its forms and reject the disappearance and imprisonment of any political activists. For us we will continue take part in unified solidarity demonstrations such as todays as in the streets is where we will achieve our goals, not in the chambers of Stormont or Westminster. It’s important that anyone interested in human rights speaks out, no matter what political opinion they hold, to speak out against Tony Taylor’s imprisonment and demand an end to similar practices carried out by the State.”

News coverage:
https://www.derrynow.com/…/eamonn-mccann-hits-mi5-ca…/175445

Video footage for todays march for Tony Taylor:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYClEqPA9T8&feature=share

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Solidarity action for people facing police repressions in Hamburg

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G20 once more is a hit in the face of all those people for whom social justice and freedom isn’t just an utopia. To compensate our anger we did a poster action. We wanna show our solidarity and also we wanna confront people in our neighbourhood with the incidents in Hamburg and the repression which is going on there.

For a world of solidarity and justice without hierarchies and exploitation. Block G20!

More on: https://abcdd.org/en/

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Delbert Africa Denied Parole & Given 5 More Years

On July 7 MOVE member Delbert Africa was denied parole yet again and what is even more sadistic is the fact that Delbert was given a five year hit. Delbert was informed by Parole Board Member Leslie Grey of the decision that he would not be paroled. This is the same Board Member who has very strong ties to law enforcement officials across the state of Pennsylvania. Ms Grey stated again that the main reason for denial is due to the fact that Delbert is a threat to the safety of the community the same Delbert Africa who prison officials at SCI Dallas approaches regularly and ask to intervene and stop gang fights and gang violence in the prison and he is deemed a threat to safety .

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Delbert also stated to Ms Grey that the community is in support of his release that’s why there are petitions, letters, and phone calls all aimed at the parole board in support of parole for Delbert and other MOVE Members from members of the community all over the world. So who is this community that is threatened? We will tell you it’s the law enforcement community who feels the threat and is working in conjunction with none other than The Fraternal Order of Police. Mark Koch a former cop and lifelong member of The Fraternal Order of Police sits on the parole board. The connection is there for people to see and people are opening their eyes and seeing this. Ms Grey went as far as to boldly tell Delbert next time you come back to make sure you have no write ups and the recommendation of the prison Delbert has had the recommendation of the prison for every parole hearing since 2008 .

The Parole Board has been blatantly pushing this issue of the safety of the community since 2008 with our family yet they have done their best to sweep under the rug the issue of Former Board Member Randy Feathers a known paedophile who had to resign in the wake of his involvement in the kiddie porn scandal with disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The Pennsylvania Parole Board is indeed ensuring that MOVE Members remain in prison and also die in prison. We lost Phil Africa in 2015 and Merle Africa in 1998 we cannot afford to lose another one of our family members. Our next course of action will soon follow but we continuing to urge people to sign the petition urging the United States Justice Department to investigate the case of The Move 9 people can sign the petition at: www.causes.com/campaigns/92454-free-the-move-9.

This is a long fight that we are not backing down from and are encouraging people to continue in this fight not just for our family but your family and friends and the political prisoners and all the men and women being done wrong by these parole boards across the country .

Ona Move

Facbook page

 

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Free Tony Taylor Now!

Since March 2016 Tony Taylor has been kept in prison by the British secretary oof state based on “closed” secret evidence provided by MI5. No Crime, No Charges, No Justice. Who’s Next?
Please march and show your outrage at this denial of basic human rights.

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Get Kevan Out Of Solitary Confinement

kev prison protest.jpgJENGbA is a grassroots campaign supporting prisoners wrongfully convicted using the doctrine of ‘joint enterprise’. Joint enterprise is used to convict more than one person of a single offence. It is often used in cases of murder. In the case of Kevan Thakrar he was not even at the scene of the crime when 3 men lost their lives, this was accepted at his trial.

Since his conviction he has been held in various Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) throughout the country for 7 years. CSCs are, in Kev’s own words, “the English version of American supermax prisons, indefinite solitary confinement within the most oppressive and brutal environment found in this country. Psychological warfare is used upon its victims on a constant basis, with frequent physical attacks supplementing the arbitrary punishment.” As only around 50 prisoners fall victim to the CSC at any one time its existence is largely unknown even amongst the general prison population.

JENGbA now wants to raise funds for Kevan to have an urgent psychological assessment, which will prove vital in proving that it is more damaging for him to be held in the CSC than the main prison estate. This is not only for Kevan, we are hoping that once we raise enough funds to enable Kevan and his family to move forward and get him an urgent assessment, we will also be helping to bring this barbaric punishment regime into the public arena and help others in the same unfortunate circumstances.

Kevan’s lawyer, Dean Kingham, says “Long term solitary confinement can have long term adverse effects. It is well documented that progression within the CSC system is limited and there is very little of it. Progression out of the CSC system is rare and difficult to achieve.
The system is often viewed as lacking legitimacy, transparency and has a long term adverse psychological impact on it’s residents given its lack of independent scrutiny or external involvement in decision-making.
The longer term potential for psychological deterioration due to the lack of meaningful activities and very nature of the detention is very real.
We are seeking to obtain an independent psychological assessment to ensure that there is transparency, legitimacy and Mr. Thakrar can progress”.

Legal Aid is available for psychological assessments of prisoners and Kevan’s lawyer has applied. But the delay has been so long that we feel now it is vital that the assessment takes place before his health deteriorates further. Seven years in solitary confinement is an unusual and inhumane punishment for any prisoner, let alone a man who continues to maintain his innocence.

If you can reach out to help Kevan, with any contribution no matter how small, it will be used directly for his assessment.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you are unable to help financially at this time, please spread the word and let people know that these places, with their concrete beds and chairs, actually exist in English prisons.

www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-kevan/

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Support Philly Anti-Fascist Arrestees! Philadelphia Anti-Repression Fund

Antifa in Philly held it down today and let the fash know what to expect when they come to town! Five people were arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department today while acting against MAGA white supremacists in center city. It is still unclear what charges they will face, but they will need financial support both to get out and afterward.

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They did catch a few casualties. Donate to the fundraiser here:
https://fundrazr.com/a1FuVa

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