Thursday, July 1, 2010
Call For Support
The Association of Prisoners is this generation’s attempt to give prisoners the voice we have long attempted to have heard.
Many other groups and organisations exist which play a role in attempting to change the prison system. Some are small and advocate abolition. Some are large, and advocate slow change. Some groups confine their work to specific subgroups of prisoners while others conduct broad based campaigns.
Along with the AoP, prison reform groups span the full width of political thought and action. The sole common ground sometimes seems to be dissatisfaction with the status quo.
This is a call to put differences aside. Prisoners need your help. In order to function, the Association of Prisoners needs the support of reform groups as well as prisoners themselves.
This is a once in a generation opportunity to help form a broad movement which could reshape the landscape of power within prisons and lead to real, positive change.
We hope that you can support us, in whichever way you can. At this moment, the immediate need is to spread the word, informing prisoners across the country that there is a group to represent their interests and which encourages them to set up unions in their particular prison.
We call on everybody to use their contacts with prisoners, individually or collectively, to pass this call over the walls.
Setting Up The Union In Your Prison
We want to build the organisation across the country. In each of prison, just one person needs to get to the library and read Article 11 of the ECHR and grasp the legality of what we are doing. Then read the PSO. It is three pages long and most of it is waffle. Ignore the negative tone, as we grow that will change.
1. Write to your Governor, informing him that you are setting up a Prisoners Representative Association under Article 11 of the European Convention. Send a copy to your solicitor as well, just to cover your back. Tell the governor that you are open to discussions as to how the association can operate in your particular prison.
If the Governor is an idiot, he will hit the roof and instantly break the law by banning the idea of an association. If he has more sense, he will accept the inevitable and, through gritted teeth, have some half-sensible things to say.
2. Ask the Governor how he intends to facilitate the Association. You will need to be able to communicate with people on other wings, put up notices and hold meetings and elections. The Governor has to work out how these things can take place.
3. Once you have informed the Governor of what you are doing, someone on each wing needs to be able to go from door to door asking people if they would like to join the Association, like to put themselves up for election as a local association leader, and whether they would like to vote for the local leadership. All legal and above board.
4. Pass your list of members to Elkan Abrahamson, Jackson & Canter Solicitors or Inside Time, or to myself.
5. Come up with a list of issues you wish to campaign about in your prison. Whilst there is a national list of issues the AoP wish to campaign over, it is important that local branches identify.
6. Watch this space.
The above is a copy of the circular that is being sent around the UK prison population and Ben thought blog readers might be interested.