Socialist Worker

Inmates protest at ‘crumbling’ jail

Issue No. 2147

Some 300 prisoners at HMP Ashwell open prison in Rutland, Lancashire, set fire to prison buildings over the Easter weekend in a protest over their loss of privileges – a move often used by authorities to punish prisoners.

Prison officers in riot gear crushed the protest after 21 hours.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) denounced the prisoners as “a violent seething mob” and warned that people living near open prisons were “not safe”.

Yet no prison officers were hurt, nor were any local people attacked. Three prisoners were said to be “slightly hurt”.

Workshops and buildings were damaged in the protest.

The POA blamed cost cutting measures that has led to the “downgrading” of category B prisoners to category C.

Category C prisoners are those thought to have no motivation to escape.

Despite the claims that the prison treats its inmates leniently, Ashwell is surrounded by rolls of barbed wire, high fences and a “state of the art CCTV system”.

A 2008 report into Ashwell noted that basic facilities in the 50 year old jail were crumbling.

Tensions had been building over delays in assessment for parole and early release schemes.

Overcrowding has also led to prisoners being held in prisons that are far away from their families.

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Article information

Tue 14 Apr 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2147
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