Hands off John Bowden!

Greenock Sheriff Court for John Bowden 22 September

We reproduce below a letter sent to Glasgow Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! from long term prisoner John Bowden. John has been regular writer for FRFI and organiser for prisoners’ rights over the last 30 years. The backlash against him by the prison authorities continues. We ask you to join us in mobilising for the following dates at Greenock Sheriff Court where he is being put on a show trial for defending himself and others against Scottish prison service brutality.

Thank you so much for your very welcome letter that raised my spirits considerably, especially at a time when the constant transfers around the prison system and overtly more repressive treatment have increased the feeling of extreme isolation; your support and solidarity at such a time is deeply appreciated.

I was very sorry to have missed you and your comrades at Greenock court last month but am sure when the actual trial goes ahead on the 17th November (the hearing on the 27th October will be just a brief one to enter a plea of not guilty) it will hopefully extend throughout the day. That is certainly my intention anyway and I will seek constantly to use the trial as a platform to highlight and speak out against prison system brutality, especially as it’s manifested at Greenock prison. Your presence therefore outside the court will assist me greatly.

My message  to you and your comrades is that your solidarity with prisoners who resist and fight back is absolutely vital as a means both of highlighting the struggle  of those prisoners and showing those who repress and brutalise them that they are not alone.

My own treatment at the moment is fairly typical of the abuse inflicted on difficult and subversive prisoners, and the total isolation of such prisoners is an absolutely central part of that abuse – which is why solidarity organised by comrades on the outside is the most effective means of challenging that abuse and isolation.

In my own case so determined now are the prison authorities to psychologically destroy me that they’ve resorted to blatantly unlawful methods, such as categorising me as an extreme Escape Risk 20 years after an escape from custody in 1992; in July of this year, following a recommendation from a senior probation officer in London that regardless of my difficult relationship with the prison system I represented no danger whatsoever to the community and should therefore be transferred to a low-security jail in preparation for release, managers at Whitemoor maximum-security prison suddenly decided that an escape from custody in 1992 retrospectively justified recategorising me as a high risk prisoner. So now apart from being constantly transferred around eight different prisons in the last three months alone, I’m also forced to wear distinct yellowing clothing with ‘Escapee’ emblazoned on it and am woken every hour throughout the night apparently to ensure that I haven’t escaped from my cell. This is of course straightforward mental torture.

I’m informed that following the trial at Greenock in November the intention is to return me to Whitemoor prison in England; if so then I shall embark on a total non-cooperation protest forcing them to place me in the prison’s segregation-unit (the site of considerable brutality) where I will try to organise collective resistance – your continuing solidarity will therefore be greatly appreciated.

Again I am deeply grateful for your support and solidarity. Yes of course I will stay strong – we have a revolution to fight and a world to win!!!

In solidarity,


Show your support

Join the court protest from 9.30am on 17 November,


Greenock Sheriff Court House, 
1 Nelson Street, 
PA15 1TR


Write to the governor of Whitemoor prison, protesting against his politically motivated decision to categorise John as an escape risk:

Governor Paul Cawkwell

HMP Whitemoor
Longhill Road

PE15 0PR


Write to John at:

John Bowden – 6729

HMP Barlinnie

81 Lee Avenue


G33 2QX


Visit our Facebook page to see local events:


Contact us

Get in touch with your local Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! group:

Glasgow: glasgowfrfi@gmail.com

Tel: 078 2620 3476

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