Prison Canteen: Every Little Helps

The recent news that Tesco is to merge with the nations biggest wholesaler, Booker, wouldn’t usually spring out as a story that is relevant to prisons, but it could well have far reaching implications within Britain’s jails. Not least because Booker has an exclusive contract to supply the weekly canteen order of all prisoners in public sector prisons.

 

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After the Storm (Part One)

In my first post back in the new year I mentioned that I had taken the decision to do something that turned out to be quite inadvisable, but that I couldn’t yet go into detail about because it was still a pending issue. Since writing that the situation has been resolved and I think that I should probably share what happened. Here’s what went down.

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Violent

“They claim that I’m violent, just cause I refuse to be silent,

These hypocrites are havin’ fits, cause I’m not buyin it.”

I always preferred 2pacs poetry to his songs but there are a few which I really relate to, especially in this environment. The above lyrics describe the relationship I have had with ‘the system’ over the last few years pretty well. In short, they start by twisting the truth, then they hide it, and finally they abandon it altogether. What’s more, when you catch them out and try to engage with them on equal terms, they label you.

They might call you uncooperative, they might call you manipulative, or they might call you violent. But these are reflective of their own acts. You are uncooperative with their attempts to twist the truth. You are manipulative because you try to find ways to stop them hiding the truth. You are violent because you take a stand when they abandon the truth. And all of this could have been avoided if they just told the truth.

Is that so much to ask from so called professional rehabilitators?

You can read the full lyrics to ‘Violent’ by 2Pac here or you can listen to it on my playlist.

The Butlins Riots

birmingham-final

I want to preface this by saying that I would never encourage a riot and I hope that I am never at a prison where one breaks out, forcing me to choose whether to take part or to take the consequences of not doing so from those who are.

However, I do think that the increase in the number and seriousness of prison disturbances over the past couple of years could actually be a good thing. Of course I don’t want anyone to get hurt, whether they are a prisoner or an officer, but physical violence does not necessarily have to be a core element of rioting. Criminal damage? Usually. Mutiny and insubordination? Definitely. But physical assault? It’s simply not necessary. What you won’t read in the mainstream media though, is what long term benefits may come from these riots for people on all sides.

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Discrimination: Unnoticed, Unchallenged, and Unresolved

Most prisoners, myself included, are guilty of thinking about institutional discrimination mainly from the point of view of race and religion, but there are a lot of other examples that are far less obvious and more deeply ingrained in the system, almost taken entirely for granted.

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