Last month I highlighted the recent changes in the prison service which were resulting in prison arts coming under threat. Electric guitars and acoustic guitars with metal strings have already been removed from the national list of permitted items, paints and other arts and hobbies supplies are near impossible to obtain in many prisons, a startling number of prisoners have had their creative writing taken or withheld by prison staff for undefined ‘security reasons’, and drama courses are now virtually unheard of in most prisons.
Since writing this post I have spoken to a number of other prisoners here at Wakefield who have been affected by this and, after some discussion, we all agreed that something had to be done. Unfortunately, when prisoners organise a petition or other collective action inside prisons we are often placed on report for ‘incitement’. However, the same does not apply on the outside. For that reason I have now set up an online petition aiming to convince the Ministry of Justice to reconsider their approach to prison arts. And that’s where I need your help. Prisoners cannot sign it. I can’t even sign it myself. But you can. So please, think of all of those who rely on prison arts just to cope with being in jail. Think of those who spend all of their time and money on creating something positive only to have it stamped on. Sign the petition. You can make a real difference to hundreds, even thousands of lives.