- Created: Monday, 11 May 2009 20:11
- Written by FRFI
Over 60 people from across Britain joined together in London on 28 January to establish a new organisation, No More Prison. Former prisoners, activists, health and prison workers and academics exchanged ideas and strategies to stop prison building, end child imprisonment and develop alternatives to punishment that better meet the needs of victims and lawbreakers. Britain locks up more people than any other country in Western Europe, with the prison population currently standing at over 88,000 children, women and men.
Opening the seminar, Professor Joe Sim argued the need for a new abolitionist movement which distinguishes itself from the prison reform group movements that have become entangled with New Labour’s law and order project. Such groups have been ‘defined in’ as acceptable commentators on prison, while other, more challenging groups remain ‘defined out’ and consequently silenced. Both the state and prison reformers are focusing on fixing rather than reinventing the penal system, and the rebranding of gaols as places of reform and progress shrouds the reality that prisons remain instruments of pain delivery, and that the collateral damage to prisoners’ families is consistently ignored.
In the discussion that followed, there were calls for a moratorium on prison building, a redirection of the prison budget, a dismantling of the negative and punitive prison officer culture and a widening of definitions of social harm to encompass white collar crime and deaths at work, amongst others.
No More Prison is holding an activists meeting in London on 1 April and a picket of Styal prison on 8 April. FRFI will be attending both events and encourages readers to become involved with this initiative.
For more information, write to No More Prison, c/o Paul Mason, School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies, Bute Building, Cardiff University, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3NB or visit the No More Prison website
FRFI 190 April / May 2006