Inside News / FRFI 240 Aug/Sep 2014

Censorship of FRFI

In FRFI 239 we reported on a judgment issued by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s office in response to a complaint by a Full Sutton prisoner who had been denied the October/November 2013 issue on the basis that it had an article containing ‘racist and fascist comments’. We are pleased to report that following our appeal against this absurd decision, the Ombudsman’s office reconsidered the case and determined that prisoners in Full Sutton should be issued with the paper. Of course, when the Ombudsman’s investigators actually asked the prison security governor which article was considered offensive, he was unable to answer.

The new report which has now been issued into this complaint is useful in that it says that if a prison governor does decide that an article in the paper is ‘not appropriate for issue’ that article must be removed and the rest of the paper issued to the prisoner, who should be given the reasons for this decision and accorded a right to appeal against it.

Unfortunately the battle against censorship continues on other fronts. Whitemoor prison is still refusing to issue the paper to our subscribers on the basis of some incomprehensible concerns about our address, while a prisoner at Swaleside has written to tell us that his FRFI has simply been marked ‘not for issue’ and placed in his stored property box. (See also Frankland security department’s letter on page 15.)

Parole Board inundated

On 8 July the Parole Board published its annual report. In the introduction the Board’s chair highlights the current massive rise in oral Parole Board hearings following the Supreme Court judgment in October 2013 in the case of Osborn and Booth. The Parole Board fears a possible increase from 4,500 such hearings per year to 16,000. Much of the media coverage around this has focused on the alleged waste of government resources in having to convene hearings at which two or three appointed Board members preside and witness evidence is heard from prison and probation staff members, in cases where the outcome is unlikely to be the release of the prisoner concerned. Such reporting avoids the real root of the problem, which is Britain’s obsessive use of indeterminate sentences from which prisoners can only be released by the Parole Board. Much of this is down to the 1997-2010 Labour government’s introduction of the now thoroughly discredited Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). Although IPPs are no longer being given out by the courts, the approximately 6,000 prisoners already serving them still have to go through the Parole Board process in order to be released. Converting all IPP sentences into ones with fixed releases date would save considerable time and money, not to mention sparing the heartache and anguish of all those families who cannot plan their lives as they do not know when their relatives will be released.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014


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