Inhumane treatment of CSC prisoners

In the last issue of FRFI a prisoner with experience of the British Prison Service’s highly punitive and secretive Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system wrote about the process for selecting prisoners for the CSC. Here the same contributor writes further on treatment of prisoners within the CSC system.

‘I think that the next point to get out is about the inflated risks and extreme security when moving off the unit. Comparisons can be drawn from Sharon Shalev’s book on US Supermax prisons.*

Prisoners who are free to move around the wing on both Woodhill and Whitemoor CSCs are forced to submit to a full strip-search and remain double handcuffed when leaving the unit for any purpose. Woodhill goes the extra mile and places the prisoner in a cellular vehicle where they remain handcuffed for the journey which might only be 50 metres to health care! And although the prisoner remains cuffed the entire journey, including during medical appointments, and never once leaves the sight of prison staff, the procedure is reversed on return, including the strip-search.

The purpose of this process is clear, to degrade and dehumanise the victims of the CSC system. Every attempt to breach a prisoner’s morale through extreme behaviour modification techniques is made. Even though the ‘National Security Framework’ states that prisoners should not remain cuffed whilst inside a cellular vehicle, CSC prisoners are not give lawful treatment.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) promotes this torture of prisoners on the CSC. In fact, the IMB has been known to enter negative file entries on prisoners who raise legitimate concerns. So what are they to do, isolated from the rest of society with nobody to turn to for help? Is it any wonder that so many CSC prisoners end up in mental hospitals needing severe psychiatric care?’

* Supermax: controlling risk through solitary confinement (Willan, 2009)

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 220 April/May 2011


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