Friday, June 25, 2010

Censorship and Lies

Or, another normal day for the prison service and Ministry of Justice. Honestly, how can they even read that sign without chuckling? Even Orwell would find that too Orwellian.

After the row last year when the MoJ tried to shut me down and I refused to budge, I had hoped that the issue of prisoners getting their voices heard was settled. News has been trickling in, though, that demonstrates that the MoJ and prison service are quietly going to extreme lengths to crush our voice boxes.

One event which hit the papers was a con called Colin Gunn (no relation) and his Facebook page. The papers claimed that he was using it to threaten people outside, hinting that he was using an illegal mobile to post items. As ever, Jack Straw dived straight in and didn't even bother to get the facts. Colin had his Facebook account shut down.

The truth is duller, but slightly more embarrassing for the prison service. Colin asked for, and was given, permission from his Governor to post material out for friends to upload. Colin is a Category A prisoner and all of his mail and phone calls are censored. So if he posted out threats, prison staff missed them, i.e. were not doing their job. As Colin has it, though, the quotes in the media were decidedly partial and out of context. Everything he posted was given the official okay.

But as soon as the media got the story, the prison kidnapped Colin and threw him in the punishment block. Official permission or not, they were not going to be embarrassed and so take their vengeance on the nearest available target - Colin. Since that moment, he has been shifted twice, lights and sirens screaming, between prisons and the last I heard was in a London. And they haven't connected him to an illegal mobile phone.

As we share a barrister I have every faith that Colin will win his right to Facebook, one step removed. But in the meantime, he remains in the dungeons. I have also heard of three other people having their material stopped from leaving the prison for the web. Two are prisoners campaigning for their innocence (and anyone who believes there are no innocent people in prison is a moron). These men have been campaigning for years, one for decades and with the help of their supporters have maintained websites detailing their claims. All of a sudden, though, the prison service is leaning on them to sign undertakings that they will not send out material for the web and blocking their communications with friends and family.

As this is popping up across the country, it's safe for me to assume that this is a Ministry of Justice ploy. Having being thrust into the public eye by attempting to ban me, they are resorting to more devious and hidden tactics.

And I must apologise to these other prisoners. It seems that my publicity rocked the boat. The MoJ seemed happy to have material from prisoners on the web, as long as no one noticed it was there. Having my cherubic mug plastered across the Guardian's pages is a different order of profile and one that the MoJ are very afraid may lead to something.

Why are they so afraid of prisoners speaking? I appreciate that there are many people who don't want to read anything we say, victims included. So don't read it.. But this is a deeper fear, not just distaste, emanating from the prison service and Ministry. They are afraid because if prisoners’ voices became a constant in public, then you may learn.

You may learn what a rotten, pointless enterprise that prison is. You may learn that prisoners are not a seething mass of shaven headed, thick necked scum. You may learn that what the State does on your behalf is at best wasteful and at worst, repugnant.

And in an effort to prevent you learning, my fellow prisoners are being severely leaned on. It wouldn't surprise me if they came back for another attempt to shut me down. In which case, the Editor will let you know instantly and loudly. Meanwhile, I will pass on any news about this covert and illegal campaign being waged by the Ministry of Justice.

1 comment:

  1. There is a prisoner on facebook, who has posted his pic, obviously from his cell, with the panic button in the background. Very funny