Bulletin February 2012

  
Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne   PO Box 1364 Collingwood 3066
             abcmelb@yahoo.com.au            abcmelb.wordpress.com

ISSUE 25 FEBRUARY 2012
Welcome to the Summer Edition of the Anarchist Black Cross Bulletin.
This is a shorter bulletin, but packed with vital information, crossing over from Australia to the United States.
From Australia we have a piece about the important court win of  the persecuted Aboriginal Hickey family.  ABC Melbourne stands in solidarity with them.  We also have some communiques written by prisoners who are incarcerated in America.
Happy reading.  If you wish to contribute an article for the bulletin please email abcmelb@yahoo.com.au
“Anarchism is a political belief that is against authority, believing that people can organize themselves without        needing state or a government in power”

TJ HICKEY

The Australian Police are particularly brutal to First Nations people.  The racist Police State  is founded on Colonization, genocide and stolen Aboriginal land.  

On  the morning of September 4, 2010  a  police contingent viciously raided   Tisha Hickey’s 21st birthday party.  This was in response to a noise complaint at her home in Riverstone in Sydney’s northwest.  
To quote from my own speech transcript delivered on the first day of the Hickey trial 23 May 2011 in Parramatta outside the courthouse: “Riverstone 7 (members of the Hickey family in Sydney  face trumped up charges after police raided and viciously assaulted Hickey family members and friends).  It’s increasingly clear that this police operation was a planned attack because they are Hickeys, close relatives of TJ Hickey the 17 year-old boy who was killed by racist police in February 2004 after they chased him through the streets of Redfern when he was riding his bicycle.  Why should the family be targeted just because they seek justice for TJ’s death?
We are also angry and horrified at the deplorable sexual assault of Tisha when she was arrested at her own 21st birthday party  and slapped them with completely trumped up riot charges.”

    At that time I was a member of Radical Women, and was part of a contingent who traveled to Parramatta to defend the persecuted Hickey family at trial.  I was also there in my capacity as a 3CR community radio broadcaster.  I’d like to point out here that during countless interviews for 3CR Radio with members of the Hickey family and with comrades from other organizations, one thing remained blatantly clear.  The police engaged in revenge because the family refuses to see TJ’s death as an accident.

    From May the trial was adjourned to 17 October, with a subsequent court verdict.  The most serious charges against all of the defendants were thrown out! Tisha was acquitted of all charges.  Others were found guilty of the most minor charges and given good behaviour bonds, which they plan to appeal.  One of the juveniles has also since been acquitted in the Children’s Court.
    The Aboriginal Legal Service did a wonderful job of representing the family.  After a long battle with police lying on the witness stand and fabricating evidence the Hickey family came out victorious.  Police were     cross-examined  and exposed.  The disproportionate response was shown.  It was made clear  that  police training is not adequate and that police lost control when they descended on Tisha’s 21 birthday party.  In court it was also shown that police shared notebooks and altered their statements again after the events captured on video and posted on YouTube, became public.
    Tisha and four others were charged with offences ranging from assaulting police to using offensive language and resisting arrest.  Two juveniles were also charged over the incident.  As has already been stated, the charges against Tisha Hickey were thrown out.  Her arrest was found to be totally unlawful.  The young woman received almost $10,000 in compensation for her treatment.  Although inadequate, the compensation is quite significant.

      Many strong Aboriginal women such as Auntie Bowie, Tisha and her mother Patricia tenaciously participated in the long court battle, along with their indigenous and non indigenous brothers and sisters.   Organizations too many to list here worked in the United Front struggle to defend the Hickey family.

 Anarchist Black Cross is committed to building the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody.  ABC Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Hickey family and congratulates them on their court win.  This organization applauds the Hickey family for fighting against the charges.  It sends out a message that Police violence will not be tolerated.  A rotten, racist, homophobic, sexist system fails Aboriginal people.  ABC Melbourne will continue to campaign against police brutality and for prison abolition.
Free all Political prisoners.

Marisa Sposaro for Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne.

 Links  tj hickey        http://youtu.be/unbKFzRQDV4
         hickey family  police harassment    http://youtu.be/lQj9ejtLKl4  

PRISONER PROFILES

Anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis released from prison

[newswire 2 Feb 2012}

I was, I am and I will be an anarchist. As long as I live and breathe the journey will continue
 —Y.Dimitrakis
 
    Anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis was arrested, heavily wounded by cop bullets, on January 16th, 2006, after the National Bank robbery on Solonos Street, in the centre of Athens.
 
    A storm of misinformation was systematically supplied by the police and readily carried out by the mass media, as his arrest was followed by a delirious state propaganda about the alleged existence of a so-called “robbers’ in black gang”; in the days while he was still being hospitalized in the intensive care unit, the infamous “terror”-prosecutor Diotis attempted to interrogate him; his friends and relatives were targeted; and in the prosecution case against him, the anti-terrorist provision as well as charges for a number of additional robberies were included.
 

    Dimitrakis defended the particular bank robbery in which he was arrested as his political choice, as a choice based on his opposition to the blackmail of work as well as to the role of banks. In addition, from the first moment and during the entire time of his captivity he was actively present in revolts and struggles within prisons and through his writings kept a vivid contact with developments on the outside. The prosecuting mechanisms also accused and proclaimed wanted for the case three more anarchists, Simos and Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis, actually reaching the point of placing a bounty on their heads in October 2009. Simos Seisidis has been acquitted both in the trial for the outrageous case of “robbers’ in black gang” and the trial for attempted murder (!) against the same cop who shot him in the leg. Nevertheless, Simos is still under pretrial detention in the “hospital” of Koridallos prisons, waiting to stand one last trial, while Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis are fugitives to this day.
 
    The outcome of Dimitrakis’ trial in the first degree, in July 2007, was an exterminating sentence of 35 years. During his appeal court, in December 2010, his sentence was reduced to 12.5 years. Finally, after being incarcerated six whole years, the comrade was released from prison on parole.
 
NO FIGHTER A HOSTAGE IN THE HANDS OF THE POWER
 AND ECONOMIC ELITES
 
FREEDOM NOW TO ALL IN PRISON

SCOT BRIGDEN

Greetings.  Sitting here in an United States Penitentiary while on lockdown due to gang violence I’ve been wondering what to write.

It’s not for the lack of inspiration, topics, wants, it’s more in what do I have to say? I figure I’ll talk about Anarchism in prison through my experiences and opinions.  First I will give some background on myself.

My name is Scot Brigden, most call me Scoty.  I was born and raised in Washington DC/metro area.  I got involved in punk rock culture in 1984 and it has been my outlet ever since.  It helped me form my opinions on music, art, politics and life.

In my pre punk rock youth I was already against authority, oppression, subjugation and bullying and the like.  I was an Anarchist all through I didn’t have the words or education for it yet.  What a discovery it was for me to find Anarchism,  like minded people and groups.

I have been in the United States Federal Prison system since 2000 for crimes of bank robbery.  I used bank robbery as a means to support my lifestyle, donate money  to collectives, (charities, and causes) and as a way to attack Government and banks.

I am scheduled for my release in 2013 or 2014 depending on how much “good conduct” time I’m allotted.  Needless to say I’ve learned a lot over the years, matured and found some contentment.  Being in prison all this time has only strengthened my resolve and beliefs.

I will never again put myself in a position against further government oppression.  Anarchism in prison barely exists.  Most here have a screwed idea or wrongness about Anarchism.  It is either chaos, mutiny, disorder, hate and some people even associate it with facism and racism.

I’ve stopped counting the number of guys with Swastikas and Anarchy tattoos on them.  So it’s only obvious that other groups, for instance: Muslims Hispanics and Black Americans, associate with Anarchism with hate, racism and Fascism ignorance and violence.

I’ve done as much as I can to educate a lot of people and groups on what Anarchism really is.  I’ve flooded the Federal prison with tonnes of Anarchist literature, pamphlets, magazines, articles and the like.

Very few have been responsive.  At least through this, most know not to associate me with racism.  I have been in 7 Federal  facilities over these years for situations involving white racist gangs.

One would think that prison would be a hotbed for Anarchism, anti government  establishment thought.

It’s actually quite the opposite.  Prison in my experience is full of politics, capitalism, greed, authority symptoms, etc.  And these come from the prison not the prison authority or Government.

The structure of prison starts with race, then gangs, then geography, then religion.  All the groups (and individuals) then operate their own political system which is basically a capitalist, seniority dictatorship: They operate through fear, violence, extortion, money and trade.

I am an  abnormality to these people.  One who selfgoverns, is respectful, considerate, educated, and survives without the aid of leaders, gangs, religion.  Although I’ve earned some respect, I am not very well liked by these groups, especially the white racist groups.

The prison officials and government love the system, groups, gangs and religion.

It makes their job much easier, this way the groups don’t focus on the injustice in the prison system and Government.

If they’re too busy oppressing each other, we won’t notice the Govts.

It’s  of all that I’ve met a few people in the system that are true activists and radicals.  Guys that are still fighting against all forms of oppression.  Some have become mentors and good friends.

As of this writing the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy movements are going on all over the country and world.

The mood in the prison towards these are one of a mockery, dismissal, and indifference.  Some groups are even angry these are going on in their city.  This saddens me because it’s the Occupy people who would also be the first to scream prison and justice reform.

Does Anarchistic ideology exist in prison? I’d say no.  I know I may sound cynical but this has been my experience.  I’m not trying to be cynical, I have strong hope and fth in humankind.

That our innate goodness will win through.  I practice this every day.

In my younger days I was a Molotov Anarchist.  Through maturity, education and compassion, today I want to build rather than destroy, cause kindness rather than fear.  It’s very strange to do this in prison.  Thank you for your time.

PEACE, love respect, Scoty.
My address:
Scott Bridgen 10067007
USP Florence
PO Box 7000 Florence
CO 810226
USA.       

JOHN PEROTTI

Greetings from the belly of the beast.  My name is big John Perotti and I’m serving
18 years in federal prison for possession of ammunition.  I was sentenced as an armed career criminal after a 3 day trial where I was found not guilty of possessing an SKA assault rifle  but guilty of having been in a vehicle that had a hand full of bullets under the front seat.  I was 100 yards away from the car  using my phone and the the police stopped and arrested me because they knew I was an ex con who had just got out of prison after 22 years.

They also searched the vehicle for that reason.  Their original justification for the search was to charge me while intoxicated. Never mind I was not driving and the blood test showed negative for alcohol.  They used a back up plan , saying they found one rifle shell in the hall way corridor through which they pushed me on the gurney (in the hospital); I was handcuffed and strapped down on the gurney.

When the police admitted at trial that they had searched me before handcuffing and
shackling me to the gurney, and no ammo was found then, the U.S. Attorney asked if it was possible I had a hidden shell in my boot that might have slid out while I was being wheeled down the corridor.  This is what I’m serving 18 years in prison.  

 I am an anarcho-socialist , who used to organize for the wobblies (iww union)  during my last imprisonment.  While my inner fire doesn’t burn as brightly as it used to, my core beliefs are still strong.  I believe in a world without bosses amongst people who have mutual respect and care for each other, without oppressing others.  I have fought the government and the state over 30 years now, on behalf of fellow prisoners and workers.  Much of  this history has resulted in retaliation , diesel therapy (transfer after transfer) , years of lock-down in isolation and the supermax.
 I have multiple medical problems , having two major heart attacks at the Ohio supermax prison , and complications resulting from multiple gunshot wounds over the year.  As a result I am in constant struggle over attempting to obtain medical care.

Most of my family and friends have passed on.  After so many years in prison, I am
attempting to establish some type of outside support system and friends.

Because of my history and penchant to fight for the underdog  an outside support system is a dissenters for breakfast.  I am presently in high maximum security udds penitentiary in Florence Colorado called administrative maximum security institution (ADMAX) and the bop definitely trains the
personnel there to withhold medical care and attention.

I was taken off all my medications when I arrived here and am in a battle to
reverse the archaic and cruel deliberate indifference to my serious
medical needs.

As an example, I have been held in a holding cell, having to sleep on a mat on the floor for
a week now with a broken right arm that medical refused to x ray or put a cast on, and as of this writing (sept 18 2011) I have received no pain medication for 8 days! They laugh at me when I ask for treatment.  The pain and anti anxiety medications I have been on for almost 30 years were discontinued by the clinical director , D Allred, upon my arrival with no substitution.

A letter of protest and seeking adequate medical treatment for me should be sent to
ms.d.d.collins, HAS
USP FLORENCE
PO BOX 7000
FLORENCE , CO 81226 USA

in solidarity John perotti
USP Canaan,
PO Box 300 Waymart. PA 18472
USA

Remember Terrance Briscoe, Mr Ward, Mulrunji Doomadgee, TJ Hickey and all who have died in custody
  

 
• Death in custody of Terrance Briscoe, Alice Spring (5 January 2012)
• 4th anniversary of the death of Mr Ward (27 January)
• 5th anniversary of Queensland Police officer, Chris Hurley, being forced to front the Supreme Court charged with manslaughter and assault (5 February)
• 8th anniversary of the death of TJ Hickey (14 February)

• Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody — implement all 339 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
• End privatisation of custodial services — cancel all contracts with G4S, SERCO and other profiteers from incarceration
• Hold the police to account — end the practice of police investigating police.  For an independent enquiry into the death of Terrance Briscoe. Establish elected community based review boards with the full legal and legislative powers to investigate, discipline and charge police, prison and custodial health officers found to be involved in a death in custody, negligence or lack of duty of care
 • End the harassment of deaths in custody families. Provide funding for families who have lost a loved one in custody to meet to allow their collective demands to be formulated, including suitable and adequate compensation. Use the $590,000 in fine money to establish a trust to honour the memory of Mr Ward. Erect a plaque at the fence line to remember TJ and publicise that his death was caused by a police chase. 
Saturday, 11 February 11 am,
Old GPO, corner Bourke and Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
 To support our work send cheques payable to ISJA – Melb to PO Box 308, Brunswick Vic 3056
Organised by Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne

FULHAM PRISON RIOT  18 JANUARY 2012
 

 A RIOT at a Victorian prison has been blamed on inmates’ anger at losing their pay TV and the introduction of new ‘soft’ toothbrushes which can’t be turned into weapons.

Corrections Commissioner Bob Hastings this morning said those issues, as well as enforcement of prisoners’ dress standards, caused some of the tensions leading to the riot at Fulham Prison    yesterday, in which inmates set small fires and stormed to the rooftop.

“Some time ago we made a decision to introduce what’s called a flexible toothbrush,” he said on ABC radio. “This is really a safety issue because unfortunately some of the prisoners with the conventional toothbrushes used those to become weapons.

“There was also some other discussion up around Fulham around a pay TV deal that was about to finish and move to a more digital free-to-air process. There were also some issues around dress standards that people objected to.”
The Community and Public Sector Union, representing prison guards, has called for an urgent meeting with Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh, citing an reduction in staff and growing prisoner numbers as a “recipe for disaster.”

CPSU secretary Karen Batt said occupational health and safety issues for guards had been a long-running concern.

Trouble at Fulham prison, near Sale 215km east of Melbourne, broke out yesterday afternoon when prisoners set fire to waste bins and around 30 ran to the roof of the facility armed with makeshift weapons.

The last group of six inmates on the roof was forced down with tear gas around 3am today.

Prisoners involved in the riot have now been transferred to Barwon and Port Philip prisons and may face criminal charges.

Ms Batt wrote to the prison’s management in November asking for an independent review of OHS standards following the staff reductions.

She said prisoners appeared to have “easy access” to gym equipment and untethered knives which could be used as weapons against guards.

 

MEDIA RELEASE 19/01/12  Flatout
PROTEST AT PRIVATISED PRISON HIGHLIGHTS CRITICAL SYSTEMIC FAILURES OF THE VICTORIAN PRISON SYSTEM
Last night’s protest at the privatised Fulham Correctional Facility (FCF) in Victoria’s east is yet another warning and condemnation of the impacts of failed policies of mass incarceration pursued by successive state governments.
With Victoria’s prison rate rising over 40% in the past decade,i it is crucial for Victoria to be implementing effective decarceration policies and closure of prisons as is now occurring in parts of Europe and the U.S. Decarceration (a reduction of the number of people going to prison, and returning to prison) requires reinvestment in communities, healthcare, education and early intervention for those at risk.
 
 Corrections Commissioner Bob Hastings suggestionii that the protest was caused by a change in toothbrushes and pay TV, trivializes the seriousness of the issues underpinning the protest. With over 845 men in a prison originally commissioned with a 590 bed capacity,iii there are critical issues regarding overcrowding and safety.
Annie Nash, Manager of Flat Out Inc. says, ‘Men imprisoned at Fulham who have protested on the basis of their conditions have done so at significant personal risk. They have not taken this decision lightly. The circumstances surrounding this incident must be very serious. A proper and full investigation of the circumstances leading to the riot is critical. The focus and energy of authorities should be on the underlying circumstances of the protest, rather than on punitive responses with individual prisoners.’
There have been multiple incidents where people imprisoned at Fulham Correctional Facility have nearly died or been seriously injured, and we are reminded this morning of a death in custody at the prison last April.iv After the 1999 homicide of Paul Shaw at FCF, a Victorian Coroner found that Australasian Correctional Management (now the GEO Group Australia) contributed to the death by failing to provide a safe system of care.v All critical incidents and conditions of confinement need to be publicly disclosed and independently investigated; it is unacceptable for Victorian prisons, and in particular private prisons, to operate in a vacuum of transparency and accountability and within a culture of impunity.
Media reports suggest that men involved in the protest at Fulham last night have been moved to Barwon and Port Phillip Prisons and may face criminal charges. It is crucial that these men have access to full legal representation and independent prison visitors, and that violent retribution against them is deterred by prison authorities.  

Media contact: Annie Nash, Manager, Flat Out Inc. (03) 9372 6155 Mob: 0438 799 827

i Corrections Victoria (2009) Statistical Profile of the Victorian Prison System 2004/2005-2008/2009, Department of Justice Victoria, p.15
ii http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/rioting-prisoners-from-fulham-prison-in-sale-have-been-secured-back-in-their-cells/story-e6frg6nf-1226248055608
iii http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/01/19/3411064.htm
iv http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/inmate-to-be-quizzed-over-prison-bashing-death-20110516-1eoy8.html
v http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/jail-systems-failures-linked-to-prison-killing/2005/12/21/1135032080243.html

Human behaviour can’t be expected from the dehumanised

Greg Barns Sydney Morning Herald

Tensions boiled over into a major riot at Fulham prison last week in which four officers feared for their lives as the control room was destroyed.

But it is not always the inmates who misbehave.

Two guards were axed and a third resigned over claims of serious wrongdoing in 15 months to April last year, with 16 others given formal counselling, a warning or final warning after complaints by guards, inmates and inmates’ families.

“One for every 100 (guards) in this robust work environment is noteworthy,” Community and Public Sector Workers Union spokesman Julian Kennelly said.

But prison officers valued being able to rely on their colleagues and had an unwritten code that meant highly professional officers held each other to account.

“Adherence to security protocols is paramount for everyone’s safety,” he said.

“Our prisons are running near capacity and managing problematic situations and difficult people would test even the patience of Job.”

The sanctions handed out reflected the varying nature of the breaches.

The Department of Justice would not say how many complaints are made against guards.

Access to 430 pages from 32 documents summarising investigations against jail guards from January 1, 2010, to March 30, 2011 was denied in full by the department after a wait of almost four months for a Herald Sun Freedom of Information request.

The Department then responded to a request outside the FoI laws, saying it had investigated 24 cases in 15 months to April last year.

A spokesman said misconduct that involved alleged criminal behaviour was immediately referred to police for investigation.

“Corrections Victoria expects that all staff uphold the highest levels of professionalism and ethics,” a spokesman said.

The investigated complaints proved included acting improperly in an official capacity, bullying, dishonest behaviour, inappropriate physical contact, failing to comply with operational security, offensive behaviour, inappropriate relationship with a prisoner and excessive force against a prisoner.

Prisoners can make complaints directly to the prison or to external bodies.
 According to media reports last week the causes of the protest by prisoners at the Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale had to do with concerns over a new type of toothbrush, removal of pay TV and a new dress code. One should take these media reports with a grain of salt. The reasons for prisoner protests invariably have deeper roots.

The Anglo-American model of prison life, to which all Australian governments subscribe, is characterised by pettiness, authoritarianism, arbitrary punishment and inherent unfairness. Governments, correctional authorities and the unions that represent prison officers pay lip service to the theory that it is the deprivation of liberty that is the punishment, not a horrendous dehumanising experience in prison.

Prisoners, such as those who participated in the Fulham protest last week, generally do not simply riot, protest or commit acts of violence for no reason. This is not to excuse their actions but it is to provide context. Such actions generally occur after a long build-up of frustration with the prison’s operation.
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One of the major causes of prisoner protests is the fact that prison authorities have carte blanche in administration. The courts and the Parliament have made it clear that while prisoners are entitled to be treated with respect the administrator of a prison and his or her officers are entitled to discipline and sanction as they see fit.

For example, prison management can decide to lock down whole units of a prison. This means prisoners are confined to their cells for up to 20 or more hours a day. Often it happens because prison officers claim to have intelligence that suggests something untoward is going to happen.

The discipline system in prison is petty and arbitrary. A prisoner who, suffering mental illness, smokes a joint to relieve stress will find him or herself deprived of privileges and sent to a more secure area. The privileges themselves are a misnomer. The medium security canteen rules of one prison in Australia includes the rule: ”New prisoners/detainees are allowed to purchase one pouch of tobacco from their private monies per week for the first two weeks of incarceration. Only tobacco, not foods.”

Withdrawing educational and recreational facilities for prisoners as a form of punishment is a hallmark of the Australian prison system. This can cause a mental health decline in prisoners affected.

If one couples the repressive control of prisoners’ lives with the inherent boredom that comes with spending so much time in a drab environment, in or out of the cell, it is little wonder things such as toothbrushes, pay TV and clothing rules become lightning rods.

This is hard for politicians, the media and the community to understand. But if you live in a world where the ordinary and mundane become weapons and tools used by the authorities to quash dissent and ensure conformity then the sort of toothbrush you use to brush your teeth takes on a whole new meaning.

Prisoners have no allies in the community, government or union movement. The reaction of the prison officers’ union to the Fulham incident last week illustrates the point. Karen Batt of the Community and Public Sector Union said prisoners were able to access knives and other implements and that the ratio of staff to prisoners was too low. What Batt should be saying is that while prisoners are treated inhumanely then there will be an unsafe work environment for officers.

No doubt many will agree with Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, who said prisoners have to behave themselves and if they don’t they can expect a firm and professional reaction – by which he means the use of capsicum spray, stun guns and other state-sanctioned apparatus to be used to bring a volatile situation under control.

The government, union and community view of how prisoners should be treated is predicated on a 19th century English notion of prisons, which is that they are meant to be places where people are treated mean and therefore kept keen to reform.

What is lost by adherence to this notion is the capacity to truly rehabilitate people and offer them education, health support and guidance on turning their life around. This is the model that Scandinavian and some other northern European countries follow and it is the reason they have low recidivism rates. Prisons in these countries are designed like university campuses, staff eat with inmates and the emphasis is on giving people freedom within the four walls of the prison.

The participants in the Fulham Correctional Centre incident will no doubt be charged and some may receive extensions of their sentence. This will have zero impact in terms of ensuring that other incidents do not happen because desperate people, ground down by a system of capricious and petty rules, don’t have anything to lose by cutting loose.

Victoria should look at its corrections model and work to humanise it. If it does that, then the unions’ concern about a safe work place, and the government’s desire for peace in the prison system will become a reality.

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and a barrister who has acted in cases challenging prison discipline regimes.

Prison Education as a Tool for  Socialization
By Christopher Zoukis On Monday, August 15, 2011

     Crime is a violation of generally agreed upon societal norms, societal norms which have been codified into law via criminalization.  The concept is that society has deemed certain actions
to be acceptable and others to be unacceptable.  When someone violates a social norm they are chastised so as to acknowledge the breaking of social norms.  This in turn acts as a correction to the individual who violated the norm and as a warning to the rest who might do so.  This chastisement maintains the agreed upon social order which facilitates
basic life in our nation and throughout the world.

    Some forms of chastisement are not so bad.  For example, a friend voices his disagreement, a teacher gives a bad grade, or a parent grounds their child as a manifestation of disapproval.  All of these, while not pleasant, allow the offender to reflect upon their actions, correct them, and go on with life relatively unabated.  This is the purpose of small correction.  The person is not hindered from living life, but they are reminded they did something wrong.  Hence, their behavior should theoretically conform according to the level, kind, and motivation of the correction.
    
    Other forms of chastisement are much worse.  Incarceration and capital punishment come to mind.  These forms of punishment, as with the lesser forms, serve to correct the offender and to provide others with the knowledge of the punishment, to serve as a cautionary tale, a boundary which must not be crossed by others.  The difference, though, is that neither of these methods of correction allows the offender to easily reintegrate themselves back into general society.  In the case of the death penalty, reintegration, of course, is impossible for obvious reasons.  In the case of incarceration, reintegration is difficult because the individual is labelled a ‘felon’ for the rest of their life.
    
    The problem with the latter, more extreme forms of correction is that the system is built to punish, not to rehabilitate.  This causes the offender to go through additional hardships which need not occur.  While a fulfilling and deserving aspect to victims of crime, this certainly
doesn’t contribute to the reduction of crime or to the rehabilitation of the offender.  American society is very dichotomous in this regard.  

They profess a desire for reductions in crime, yet promote it to the fullest with “tough-on-crime” criminal justice policies, policies which fill the prisons and revoke offenders’ supervised release..  Such policies don’t foster an environment where the offender can succeed in life outside of prison.  In fact, the policies have the opposite effect: driving released prisoners back into the role of the criminal or
outcast.

    As with children, a method of anticipatory socialisation is needed. In children, this anticipatory socialisation is aimed at preparing the child for life as an adult.  For offenders, this anticipatory socialisation is aimed at preparing the offender for their eventual return to the general society.  The problem is often that the offender sits inside the prison and doesn’t engage in any healthy means of growth.  Hence, the only change to the offender’s psyche or mentality is a direct result of the callous prison environment to which they find
themselves constantly exposed.

    A cost-effective method of providing this anticipatory socialization is through correctional education. Almost any learned person will agree that the pursuit of an education is a means of healthy, pro-social growth.  The same is true not only outside of the prison environment, but inside it, too.  By allowing offenders to grow through education they will be able to not only compete in the job market upon release, but be afforded the opportunity
to change their criminal mentality and motivations.

    Through the act of reading about sociology, the offender can come to a better understanding of the social class that they came from; hence, come to a better understanding of their own role inside their class and perhaps even an understanding of why they do the things they do.
    Likewise, an English course can afford the offender with the skills needed to convey their thoughts and feelings in an appropriate manner.

    Educating prisoners is a tough sell.  The average American is already so economically overburdened that the idea of providing a free education to the prison population seems …  outrageous.  By looking at prison education in a strictly economic context, it can be easy to overlook the meat of the issue.  The issue isn’t about paying for prisoners to be educated.  It’s about re-socialising them so that they don’t return to prison.  It’s about providing the tools needed so that the prison population is able to break the cycle of crime and incarceration.  It’s
about protecting American men, women, and children in the most economically sound fashion.  If looked at from this perspective, the notion of ‘coddling’ prisoners is removed.

    If we, as a nation, want offenders to stop being criminals, we need to remove the barriers to the path of law-abiding citizenship.  There are many steps that must be taken, many avenues which must be cleared.  Many of these have to do with restorative justice, which is where we first punish, then forgive, and, finally, allow miscreants to succeed.  The problem with the current model of not educating the incarcerated is that we will eventually have to release them from prison.  When this happens, the offenders are coming out worse off than when they went in.  Hence, we are opening ourselves and our communities to crime.  We are allowing more citizens to be victimised by not proactively rehabilitating our
incarcerated offenders.

    What needs to happen is this: The offender needs to be re-socialized through education so that upon their release they are no longer a threat to society.  Then, when we stop punishing them and we allow them to succeed, they will be able to get out, stay out, and be an asset to the communities in which they return.  After a period of time, and re-socialization through education, the number of recidivists will dwindle, until our system starts showing net gains, not losses.  Only then will the never-ending cycle of crime be broken.

   http://www.christopherzouki.com/prison-education-blog/
    http://www.Christopherzouki.com
 

  Radio 3CR
   855 on the am dial
   streaming online http://www.3cr.org.au
 Doin Time Mondays 4 – 5PM
  An open forum, presenting information and discussion around issues      faced by prisoners in the criminal justice system and migration  detention centres.
    SUWA Friday 5.30 – 6.30 pm
The SUWA Program, Squatters and Unwaged Workers Airwaves is a weekly program about unemployed workers organising, centrelink news and squatting rights.

Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne
PO Box 1364 Collingwood 3066

abcmelb@yahoo.com.au

abcmelb.wordpress.com
Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne   PO Box 1364 Collingwood 3066
             abcmelb@yahoo.com.au            abcmelb.wordpress.com

ISSUE 25 FEBRUARY 2012
Welcome to the Summer Edition of the Anarchist Black Cross Bulletin.
This is a shorter bulletin, but packed with vital information, crossing over from Australia to the United States.
From Australia we have a piece about the important court win of  the persecuted Aboriginal Hickey family.  ABC Melbourne stands in solidarity with them.  We also have some communiques written by prisoners who are incarcerated in America.
Happy reading.  If you wish to contribute an article for the bulletin please email abcmelb@yahoo.com.au
“Anarchism is a political belief that is against authority, believing that people can organize themselves without        needing state or a government in power”

TJ HICKEY

The Australian Police are particularly brutal to First Nations people.  The racist Police State  is founded on Colonization, genocide and stolen Aboriginal land.  

On  the morning of September 4, 2010  a  police contingent viciously raided   Tisha Hickey’s 21st birthday party.  This was in response to a noise complaint at her home in Riverstone in Sydney’s northwest.  
To quote from my own speech transcript delivered on the first day of the Hickey trial 23 May 2011 in Parramatta outside the courthouse: “Riverstone 7 (members of the Hickey family in Sydney  face trumped up charges after police raided and viciously assaulted Hickey family members and friends).  It’s increasingly clear that this police operation was a planned attack because they are Hickeys, close relatives of TJ Hickey the 17 year-old boy who was killed by racist police in February 2004 after they chased him through the streets of Redfern when he was riding his bicycle.  Why should the family be targeted just because they seek justice for TJ’s death?
We are also angry and horrified at the deplorable sexual assault of Tisha when she was arrested at her own 21st birthday party  and slapped them with completely trumped up riot charges.”

    At that time I was a member of Radical Women, and was part of a contingent who traveled to Parramatta to defend the persecuted Hickey family at trial.  I was also there in my capacity as a 3CR community radio broadcaster.  I’d like to point out here that during countless interviews for 3CR Radio with members of the Hickey family and with comrades from other organizations, one thing remained blatantly clear.  The police engaged in revenge because the family refuses to see TJ’s death as an accident.

    From May the trial was adjourned to 17 October, with a subsequent court verdict.  The most serious charges against all of the defendants were thrown out! Tisha was acquitted of all charges.  Others were found guilty of the most minor charges and given good behaviour bonds, which they plan to appeal.  One of the juveniles has also since been acquitted in the Children’s Court.
    The Aboriginal Legal Service did a wonderful job of representing the family.  After a long battle with police lying on the witness stand and fabricating evidence the Hickey family came out victorious.  Police were     cross-examined  and exposed.  The disproportionate response was shown.  It was made clear  that  police training is not adequate and that police lost control when they descended on Tisha’s 21 birthday party.  In court it was also shown that police shared notebooks and altered their statements again after the events captured on video and posted on YouTube, became public.
    Tisha and four others were charged with offences ranging from assaulting police to using offensive language and resisting arrest.  Two juveniles were also charged over the incident.  As has already been stated, the charges against Tisha Hickey were thrown out.  Her arrest was found to be totally unlawful.  The young woman received almost $10,000 in compensation for her treatment.  Although inadequate, the compensation is quite significant.

      Many strong Aboriginal women such as Auntie Bowie, Tisha and her mother Patricia tenaciously participated in the long court battle, along with their indigenous and non indigenous brothers and sisters.   Organizations too many to list here worked in the United Front struggle to defend the Hickey family.

 Anarchist Black Cross is committed to building the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody.  ABC Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Hickey family and congratulates them on their court win.  This organization applauds the Hickey family for fighting against the charges.  It sends out a message that Police violence will not be tolerated.  A rotten, racist, homophobic, sexist system fails Aboriginal people.  ABC Melbourne will continue to campaign against police brutality and for prison abolition.
Free all Political prisoners.

Marisa Sposaro for Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne.

 Links  tj hickey        http://youtu.be/unbKFzRQDV4
         hickey family  police harassment    http://youtu.be/lQj9ejtLKl4  

PRISONER PROFILES

Anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis released from prison

[newswire 2 Feb 2012}

I was, I am and I will be an anarchist. As long as I live and breathe the journey will continue
 —Y.Dimitrakis
 
    Anarchist Yannis Dimitrakis was arrested, heavily wounded by cop bullets, on January 16th, 2006, after the National Bank robbery on Solonos Street, in the centre of Athens.
 
    A storm of misinformation was systematically supplied by the police and readily carried out by the mass media, as his arrest was followed by a delirious state propaganda about the alleged existence of a so-called “robbers’ in black gang”; in the days while he was still being hospitalized in the intensive care unit, the infamous “terror”-prosecutor Diotis attempted to interrogate him; his friends and relatives were targeted; and in the prosecution case against him, the anti-terrorist provision as well as charges for a number of additional robberies were included.
 

    Dimitrakis defended the particular bank robbery in which he was arrested as his political choice, as a choice based on his opposition to the blackmail of work as well as to the role of banks. In addition, from the first moment and during the entire time of his captivity he was actively present in revolts and struggles within prisons and through his writings kept a vivid contact with developments on the outside. The prosecuting mechanisms also accused and proclaimed wanted for the case three more anarchists, Simos and Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis, actually reaching the point of placing a bounty on their heads in October 2009. Simos Seisidis has been acquitted both in the trial for the outrageous case of “robbers’ in black gang” and the trial for attempted murder (!) against the same cop who shot him in the leg. Nevertheless, Simos is still under pretrial detention in the “hospital” of Koridallos prisons, waiting to stand one last trial, while Marios Seisidis and Grigoris Tsironis are fugitives to this day.
 
    The outcome of Dimitrakis’ trial in the first degree, in July 2007, was an exterminating sentence of 35 years. During his appeal court, in December 2010, his sentence was reduced to 12.5 years. Finally, after being incarcerated six whole years, the comrade was released from prison on parole.
 
NO FIGHTER A HOSTAGE IN THE HANDS OF THE POWER
 AND ECONOMIC ELITES
 
FREEDOM NOW TO ALL IN PRISON

SCOT BRIGDEN

Greetings.  Sitting here in an United States Penitentiary while on lockdown due to gang violence I’ve been wondering what to write.

It’s not for the lack of inspiration, topics, wants, it’s more in what do I have to say? I figure I’ll talk about Anarchism in prison through my experiences and opinions.  First I will give some background on myself.

My name is Scot Brigden, most call me Scoty.  I was born and raised in Washington DC/metro area.  I got involved in punk rock culture in 1984 and it has been my outlet ever since.  It helped me form my opinions on music, art, politics and life.

In my pre punk rock youth I was already against authority, oppression, subjugation and bullying and the like.  I was an Anarchist all through I didn’t have the words or education for it yet.  What a discovery it was for me to find Anarchism,  like minded people and groups.

I have been in the United States Federal Prison system since 2000 for crimes of bank robbery.  I used bank robbery as a means to support my lifestyle, donate money  to collectives, (charities, and causes) and as a way to attack Government and banks.

I am scheduled for my release in 2013 or 2014 depending on how much “good conduct” time I’m allotted.  Needless to say I’ve learned a lot over the years, matured and found some contentment.  Being in prison all this time has only strengthened my resolve and beliefs.

I will never again put myself in a position against further government oppression.  Anarchism in prison barely exists.  Most here have a screwed idea or wrongness about Anarchism.  It is either chaos, mutiny, disorder, hate and some people even associate it with facism and racism.

I’ve stopped counting the number of guys with Swastikas and Anarchy tattoos on them.  So it’s only obvious that other groups, for instance: Muslims Hispanics and Black Americans, associate with Anarchism with hate, racism and Fascism ignorance and violence.

I’ve done as much as I can to educate a lot of people and groups on what Anarchism really is.  I’ve flooded the Federal prison with tonnes of Anarchist literature, pamphlets, magazines, articles and the like.

Very few have been responsive.  At least through this, most know not to associate me with racism.  I have been in 7 Federal  facilities over these years for situations involving white racist gangs.

One would think that prison would be a hotbed for Anarchism, anti government  establishment thought.

It’s actually quite the opposite.  Prison in my experience is full of politics, capitalism, greed, authority symptoms, etc.  And these come from the prison not the prison authority or Government.

The structure of prison starts with race, then gangs, then geography, then religion.  All the groups (and individuals) then operate their own political system which is basically a capitalist, seniority dictatorship: They operate through fear, violence, extortion, money and trade.

I am an  abnormality to these people.  One who selfgoverns, is respectful, considerate, educated, and survives without the aid of leaders, gangs, religion.  Although I’ve earned some respect, I am not very well liked by these groups, especially the white racist groups.

The prison officials and government love the system, groups, gangs and religion.

It makes their job much easier, this way the groups don’t focus on the injustice in the prison system and Government.

If they’re too busy oppressing each other, we won’t notice the Govts.

It’s  of all that I’ve met a few people in the system that are true activists and radicals.  Guys that are still fighting against all forms of oppression.  Some have become mentors and good friends.

As of this writing the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy movements are going on all over the country and world.

The mood in the prison towards these are one of a mockery, dismissal, and indifference.  Some groups are even angry these are going on in their city.  This saddens me because it’s the Occupy people who would also be the first to scream prison and justice reform.

Does Anarchistic ideology exist in prison? I’d say no.  I know I may sound cynical but this has been my experience.  I’m not trying to be cynical, I have strong hope and fth in humankind.

That our innate goodness will win through.  I practice this every day.

In my younger days I was a Molotov Anarchist.  Through maturity, education and compassion, today I want to build rather than destroy, cause kindness rather than fear.  It’s very strange to do this in prison.  Thank you for your time.

PEACE, love respect, Scoty.
My address:
Scott Bridgen 10067007
USP Florence
PO Box 7000 Florence
CO 810226
USA.       

JOHN PEROTTI

Greetings from the belly of the beast.  My name is big John Perotti and I’m serving
18 years in federal prison for possession of ammunition.  I was sentenced as an armed career criminal after a 3 day trial where I was found not guilty of possessing an SKA assault rifle  but guilty of having been in a vehicle that had a hand full of bullets under the front seat.  I was 100 yards away from the car  using my phone and the the police stopped and arrested me because they knew I was an ex con who had just got out of prison after 22 years.

They also searched the vehicle for that reason.  Their original justification for the search was to charge me while intoxicated. Never mind I was not driving and the blood test showed negative for alcohol.  They used a back up plan , saying they found one rifle shell in the hall way corridor through which they pushed me on the gurney (in the hospital); I was handcuffed and strapped down on the gurney.

When the police admitted at trial that they had searched me before handcuffing and
shackling me to the gurney, and no ammo was found then, the U.S. Attorney asked if it was possible I had a hidden shell in my boot that might have slid out while I was being wheeled down the corridor.  This is what I’m serving 18 years in prison.  

 I am an anarcho-socialist , who used to organize for the wobblies (iww union)  during my last imprisonment.  While my inner fire doesn’t burn as brightly as it used to, my core beliefs are still strong.  I believe in a world without bosses amongst people who have mutual respect and care for each other, without oppressing others.  I have fought the government and the state over 30 years now, on behalf of fellow prisoners and workers.  Much of  this history has resulted in retaliation , diesel therapy (transfer after transfer) , years of lock-down in isolation and the supermax.
 I have multiple medical problems , having two major heart attacks at the Ohio supermax prison , and complications resulting from multiple gunshot wounds over the year.  As a result I am in constant struggle over attempting to obtain medical care.

Most of my family and friends have passed on.  After so many years in prison, I am
attempting to establish some type of outside support system and friends.

Because of my history and penchant to fight for the underdog  an outside support system is a dissenters for breakfast.  I am presently in high maximum security udds penitentiary in Florence Colorado called administrative maximum security institution (ADMAX) and the bop definitely trains the
personnel there to withhold medical care and attention.

I was taken off all my medications when I arrived here and am in a battle to
reverse the archaic and cruel deliberate indifference to my serious
medical needs.

As an example, I have been held in a holding cell, having to sleep on a mat on the floor for
a week now with a broken right arm that medical refused to x ray or put a cast on, and as of this writing (sept 18 2011) I have received no pain medication for 8 days! They laugh at me when I ask for treatment.  The pain and anti anxiety medications I have been on for almost 30 years were discontinued by the clinical director , D Allred, upon my arrival with no substitution.

A letter of protest and seeking adequate medical treatment for me should be sent to
ms.d.d.collins, HAS
USP FLORENCE
PO BOX 7000
FLORENCE , CO 81226 USA

in solidarity John perotti
USP Canaan,
PO Box 300 Waymart. PA 18472
USA

Remember Terrance Briscoe, Mr Ward, Mulrunji Doomadgee, TJ Hickey and all who have died in custody
  

 
• Death in custody of Terrance Briscoe, Alice Spring (5 January 2012)
• 4th anniversary of the death of Mr Ward (27 January)
• 5th anniversary of Queensland Police officer, Chris Hurley, being forced to front the Supreme Court charged with manslaughter and assault (5 February)
• 8th anniversary of the death of TJ Hickey (14 February)

• Stop Aboriginal deaths in custody — implement all 339 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
• End privatisation of custodial services — cancel all contracts with G4S, SERCO and other profiteers from incarceration
• Hold the police to account — end the practice of police investigating police.  For an independent enquiry into the death of Terrance Briscoe. Establish elected community based review boards with the full legal and legislative powers to investigate, discipline and charge police, prison and custodial health officers found to be involved in a death in custody, negligence or lack of duty of care
 • End the harassment of deaths in custody families. Provide funding for families who have lost a loved one in custody to meet to allow their collective demands to be formulated, including suitable and adequate compensation. Use the $590,000 in fine money to establish a trust to honour the memory of Mr Ward. Erect a plaque at the fence line to remember TJ and publicise that his death was caused by a police chase. 
Saturday, 11 February 11 am,
Old GPO, corner Bourke and Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
 To support our work send cheques payable to ISJA – Melb to PO Box 308, Brunswick Vic 3056
Organised by Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne

FULHAM PRISON RIOT  18 JANUARY 2012
 

 A RIOT at a Victorian prison has been blamed on inmates’ anger at losing their pay TV and the introduction of new ‘soft’ toothbrushes which can’t be turned into weapons.

Corrections Commissioner Bob Hastings this morning said those issues, as well as enforcement of prisoners’ dress standards, caused some of the tensions leading to the riot at Fulham Prison    yesterday, in which inmates set small fires and stormed to the rooftop.

“Some time ago we made a decision to introduce what’s called a flexible toothbrush,” he said on ABC radio. “This is really a safety issue because unfortunately some of the prisoners with the conventional toothbrushes used those to become weapons.

“There was also some other discussion up around Fulham around a pay TV deal that was about to finish and move to a more digital free-to-air process. There were also some issues around dress standards that people objected to.”
The Community and Public Sector Union, representing prison guards, has called for an urgent meeting with Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh, citing an reduction in staff and growing prisoner numbers as a “recipe for disaster.”

CPSU secretary Karen Batt said occupational health and safety issues for guards had been a long-running concern.

Trouble at Fulham prison, near Sale 215km east of Melbourne, broke out yesterday afternoon when prisoners set fire to waste bins and around 30 ran to the roof of the facility armed with makeshift weapons.

The last group of six inmates on the roof was forced down with tear gas around 3am today.

Prisoners involved in the riot have now been transferred to Barwon and Port Philip prisons and may face criminal charges.

Ms Batt wrote to the prison’s management in November asking for an independent review of OHS standards following the staff reductions.

She said prisoners appeared to have “easy access” to gym equipment and untethered knives which could be used as weapons against guards.

 

MEDIA RELEASE 19/01/12  Flatout
PROTEST AT PRIVATISED PRISON HIGHLIGHTS CRITICAL SYSTEMIC FAILURES OF THE VICTORIAN PRISON SYSTEM
Last night’s protest at the privatised Fulham Correctional Facility (FCF) in Victoria’s east is yet another warning and condemnation of the impacts of failed policies of mass incarceration pursued by successive state governments.
With Victoria’s prison rate rising over 40% in the past decade,i it is crucial for Victoria to be implementing effective decarceration policies and closure of prisons as is now occurring in parts of Europe and the U.S. Decarceration (a reduction of the number of people going to prison, and returning to prison) requires reinvestment in communities, healthcare, education and early intervention for those at risk.
 
 Corrections Commissioner Bob Hastings suggestionii that the protest was caused by a change in toothbrushes and pay TV, trivializes the seriousness of the issues underpinning the protest. With over 845 men in a prison originally commissioned with a 590 bed capacity,iii there are critical issues regarding overcrowding and safety.
Annie Nash, Manager of Flat Out Inc. says, ‘Men imprisoned at Fulham who have protested on the basis of their conditions have done so at significant personal risk. They have not taken this decision lightly. The circumstances surrounding this incident must be very serious. A proper and full investigation of the circumstances leading to the riot is critical. The focus and energy of authorities should be on the underlying circumstances of the protest, rather than on punitive responses with individual prisoners.’
There have been multiple incidents where people imprisoned at Fulham Correctional Facility have nearly died or been seriously injured, and we are reminded this morning of a death in custody at the prison last April.iv After the 1999 homicide of Paul Shaw at FCF, a Victorian Coroner found that Australasian Correctional Management (now the GEO Group Australia) contributed to the death by failing to provide a safe system of care.v All critical incidents and conditions of confinement need to be publicly disclosed and independently investigated; it is unacceptable for Victorian prisons, and in particular private prisons, to operate in a vacuum of transparency and accountability and within a culture of impunity.
Media reports suggest that men involved in the protest at Fulham last night have been moved to Barwon and Port Phillip Prisons and may face criminal charges. It is crucial that these men have access to full legal representation and independent prison visitors, and that violent retribution against them is deterred by prison authorities.  

Media contact: Annie Nash, Manager, Flat Out Inc. (03) 9372 6155 Mob: 0438 799 827

i Corrections Victoria (2009) Statistical Profile of the Victorian Prison System 2004/2005-2008/2009, Department of Justice Victoria, p.15
ii http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/rioting-prisoners-from-fulham-prison-in-sale-have-been-secured-back-in-their-cells/story-e6frg6nf-1226248055608
iii http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/01/19/3411064.htm
iv http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/inmate-to-be-quizzed-over-prison-bashing-death-20110516-1eoy8.html
v http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/jail-systems-failures-linked-to-prison-killing/2005/12/21/1135032080243.html

Human behaviour can’t be expected from the dehumanised

Greg Barns Sydney Morning Herald

Tensions boiled over into a major riot at Fulham prison last week in which four officers feared for their lives as the control room was destroyed.

But it is not always the inmates who misbehave.

Two guards were axed and a third resigned over claims of serious wrongdoing in 15 months to April last year, with 16 others given formal counselling, a warning or final warning after complaints by guards, inmates and inmates’ families.

“One for every 100 (guards) in this robust work environment is noteworthy,” Community and Public Sector Workers Union spokesman Julian Kennelly said.

But prison officers valued being able to rely on their colleagues and had an unwritten code that meant highly professional officers held each other to account.

“Adherence to security protocols is paramount for everyone’s safety,” he said.

“Our prisons are running near capacity and managing problematic situations and difficult people would test even the patience of Job.”

The sanctions handed out reflected the varying nature of the breaches.

The Department of Justice would not say how many complaints are made against guards.

Access to 430 pages from 32 documents summarising investigations against jail guards from January 1, 2010, to March 30, 2011 was denied in full by the department after a wait of almost four months for a Herald Sun Freedom of Information request.

The Department then responded to a request outside the FoI laws, saying it had investigated 24 cases in 15 months to April last year.

A spokesman said misconduct that involved alleged criminal behaviour was immediately referred to police for investigation.

“Corrections Victoria expects that all staff uphold the highest levels of professionalism and ethics,” a spokesman said.

The investigated complaints proved included acting improperly in an official capacity, bullying, dishonest behaviour, inappropriate physical contact, failing to comply with operational security, offensive behaviour, inappropriate relationship with a prisoner and excessive force against a prisoner.

Prisoners can make complaints directly to the prison or to external bodies.
 According to media reports last week the causes of the protest by prisoners at the Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale had to do with concerns over a new type of toothbrush, removal of pay TV and a new dress code. One should take these media reports with a grain of salt. The reasons for prisoner protests invariably have deeper roots.

The Anglo-American model of prison life, to which all Australian governments subscribe, is characterised by pettiness, authoritarianism, arbitrary punishment and inherent unfairness. Governments, correctional authorities and the unions that represent prison officers pay lip service to the theory that it is the deprivation of liberty that is the punishment, not a horrendous dehumanising experience in prison.

Prisoners, such as those who participated in the Fulham protest last week, generally do not simply riot, protest or commit acts of violence for no reason. This is not to excuse their actions but it is to provide context. Such actions generally occur after a long build-up of frustration with the prison’s operation.
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One of the major causes of prisoner protests is the fact that prison authorities have carte blanche in administration. The courts and the Parliament have made it clear that while prisoners are entitled to be treated with respect the administrator of a prison and his or her officers are entitled to discipline and sanction as they see fit.

For example, prison management can decide to lock down whole units of a prison. This means prisoners are confined to their cells for up to 20 or more hours a day. Often it happens because prison officers claim to have intelligence that suggests something untoward is going to happen.

The discipline system in prison is petty and arbitrary. A prisoner who, suffering mental illness, smokes a joint to relieve stress will find him or herself deprived of privileges and sent to a more secure area. The privileges themselves are a misnomer. The medium security canteen rules of one prison in Australia includes the rule: ”New prisoners/detainees are allowed to purchase one pouch of tobacco from their private monies per week for the first two weeks of incarceration. Only tobacco, not foods.”

Withdrawing educational and recreational facilities for prisoners as a form of punishment is a hallmark of the Australian prison system. This can cause a mental health decline in prisoners affected.

If one couples the repressive control of prisoners’ lives with the inherent boredom that comes with spending so much time in a drab environment, in or out of the cell, it is little wonder things such as toothbrushes, pay TV and clothing rules become lightning rods.

This is hard for politicians, the media and the community to understand. But if you live in a world where the ordinary and mundane become weapons and tools used by the authorities to quash dissent and ensure conformity then the sort of toothbrush you use to brush your teeth takes on a whole new meaning.

Prisoners have no allies in the community, government or union movement. The reaction of the prison officers’ union to the Fulham incident last week illustrates the point. Karen Batt of the Community and Public Sector Union said prisoners were able to access knives and other implements and that the ratio of staff to prisoners was too low. What Batt should be saying is that while prisoners are treated inhumanely then there will be an unsafe work environment for officers.

No doubt many will agree with Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, who said prisoners have to behave themselves and if they don’t they can expect a firm and professional reaction – by which he means the use of capsicum spray, stun guns and other state-sanctioned apparatus to be used to bring a volatile situation under control.

The government, union and community view of how prisoners should be treated is predicated on a 19th century English notion of prisons, which is that they are meant to be places where people are treated mean and therefore kept keen to reform.

What is lost by adherence to this notion is the capacity to truly rehabilitate people and offer them education, health support and guidance on turning their life around. This is the model that Scandinavian and some other northern European countries follow and it is the reason they have low recidivism rates. Prisons in these countries are designed like university campuses, staff eat with inmates and the emphasis is on giving people freedom within the four walls of the prison.

The participants in the Fulham Correctional Centre incident will no doubt be charged and some may receive extensions of their sentence. This will have zero impact in terms of ensuring that other incidents do not happen because desperate people, ground down by a system of capricious and petty rules, don’t have anything to lose by cutting loose.

Victoria should look at its corrections model and work to humanise it. If it does that, then the unions’ concern about a safe work place, and the government’s desire for peace in the prison system will become a reality.

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and a barrister who has acted in cases challenging prison discipline regimes.

Prison Education as a Tool for  Socialization
By Christopher Zoukis On Monday, August 15, 2011

     Crime is a violation of generally agreed upon societal norms, societal norms which have been codified into law via criminalization.  The concept is that society has deemed certain actions
to be acceptable and others to be unacceptable.  When someone violates a social norm they are chastised so as to acknowledge the breaking of social norms.  This in turn acts as a correction to the individual who violated the norm and as a warning to the rest who might do so.  This chastisement maintains the agreed upon social order which facilitates
basic life in our nation and throughout the world.

    Some forms of chastisement are not so bad.  For example, a friend voices his disagreement, a teacher gives a bad grade, or a parent grounds their child as a manifestation of disapproval.  All of these, while not pleasant, allow the offender to reflect upon their actions, correct them, and go on with life relatively unabated.  This is the purpose of small correction.  The person is not hindered from living life, but they are reminded they did something wrong.  Hence, their behavior should theoretically conform according to the level, kind, and motivation of the correction.
    
    Other forms of chastisement are much worse.  Incarceration and capital punishment come to mind.  These forms of punishment, as with the lesser forms, serve to correct the offender and to provide others with the knowledge of the punishment, to serve as a cautionary tale, a boundary which must not be crossed by others.  The difference, though, is that neither of these methods of correction allows the offender to easily reintegrate themselves back into general society.  In the case of the death penalty, reintegration, of course, is impossible for obvious reasons.  In the case of incarceration, reintegration is difficult because the individual is labelled a ‘felon’ for the rest of their life.
    
    The problem with the latter, more extreme forms of correction is that the system is built to punish, not to rehabilitate.  This causes the offender to go through additional hardships which need not occur.  While a fulfilling and deserving aspect to victims of crime, this certainly
doesn’t contribute to the reduction of crime or to the rehabilitation of the offender.  American society is very dichotomous in this regard.  

They profess a desire for reductions in crime, yet promote it to the fullest with “tough-on-crime” criminal justice policies, policies which fill the prisons and revoke offenders’ supervised release..  Such policies don’t foster an environment where the offender can succeed in life outside of prison.  In fact, the policies have the opposite effect: driving released prisoners back into the role of the criminal or
outcast.

    As with children, a method of anticipatory socialisation is needed. In children, this anticipatory socialisation is aimed at preparing the child for life as an adult.  For offenders, this anticipatory socialisation is aimed at preparing the offender for their eventual return to the general society.  The problem is often that the offender sits inside the prison and doesn’t engage in any healthy means of growth.  Hence, the only change to the offender’s psyche or mentality is a direct result of the callous prison environment to which they find
themselves constantly exposed.

    A cost-effective method of providing this anticipatory socialization is through correctional education. Almost any learned person will agree that the pursuit of an education is a means of healthy, pro-social growth.  The same is true not only outside of the prison environment, but inside it, too.  By allowing offenders to grow through education they will be able to not only compete in the job market upon release, but be afforded the opportunity
to change their criminal mentality and motivations.

    Through the act of reading about sociology, the offender can come to a better understanding of the social class that they came from; hence, come to a better understanding of their own role inside their class and perhaps even an understanding of why they do the things they do.
    Likewise, an English course can afford the offender with the skills needed to convey their thoughts and feelings in an appropriate manner.

    Educating prisoners is a tough sell.  The average American is already so economically overburdened that the idea of providing a free education to the prison population seems …  outrageous.  By looking at prison education in a strictly economic context, it can be easy to overlook the meat of the issue.  The issue isn’t about paying for prisoners to be educated.  It’s about re-socialising them so that they don’t return to prison.  It’s about providing the tools needed so that the prison population is able to break the cycle of crime and incarceration.  It’s
about protecting American men, women, and children in the most economically sound fashion.  If looked at from this perspective, the notion of ‘coddling’ prisoners is removed.

    If we, as a nation, want offenders to stop being criminals, we need to remove the barriers to the path of law-abiding citizenship.  There are many steps that must be taken, many avenues which must be cleared.  Many of these have to do with restorative justice, which is where we first punish, then forgive, and, finally, allow miscreants to succeed.  The problem with the current model of not educating the incarcerated is that we will eventually have to release them from prison.  When this happens, the offenders are coming out worse off than when they went in.  Hence, we are opening ourselves and our communities to crime.  We are allowing more citizens to be victimised by not proactively rehabilitating our
incarcerated offenders.

    What needs to happen is this: The offender needs to be re-socialized through education so that upon their release they are no longer a threat to society.  Then, when we stop punishing them and we allow them to succeed, they will be able to get out, stay out, and be an asset to the communities in which they return.  After a period of time, and re-socialization through education, the number of recidivists will dwindle, until our system starts showing net gains, not losses.  Only then will the never-ending cycle of crime be broken.

   http://www.christopherzouki.com/prison-education-blog/
    http://www.Christopherzouki.com
 

  Radio 3CR
   855 on the am dial
   streaming online http://www.3cr.org.au
 Doin Time Mondays 4 – 5PM
  An open forum, presenting information and discussion around issues      faced by prisoners in the criminal justice system and migration  detention centres.
    SUWA Friday 5.30 – 6.30 pm
The SUWA Program, Squatters and Unwaged Workers Airwaves is a weekly program about unemployed workers organising, centrelink news and squatting rights.

Anarchist Black Cross Melbourne
PO Box 1364 Collingwood 3066

abcmelb@yahoo.com.au

abcmelb.wordpress.com

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