Friday, November 25, 2011


The dull sound of a polycarbonate riot shield outside of your cell door is never a welcome one.  It’s invariably a portent of Bad Things.

All the more so when you have just refused to be transferred. The rattling shield is the signal that the refusal is not being taken as the final word. Such was the situation with one of the guys in this Block recently.

Watching as best I could through the gap around my door, I witnessed the initial charge into the cell. Known to us as a "planned cell extraction", it involves a 3 man team (in this case, led by a woman) that charge into the cell, the shield-bearer leading the way. Having wedged the prisoner with the shield the two flanking staff attempt to secure the con’s arms in Aikido joint-locks in what is tastefully known as "pain compliance". Once "compliant" the con is moved from A to B, in this instance B being another prison.
As with all plans, this one didn't go quite as predicted. Matey squirmed and wriggled his way around his cell floor for a good 40 minutes before being firmly grasped, a period of time so long that staff involved had to be relieved half way through. This "use of force" is always a messy affair and it is a welcome development that such events are attended by a screw with a video camera. We can only hope that this reduces the scope of staff getting carried away and crossing that fine line between a legitimate use of force and assault.

Matey was, finally, “bent up" and carted away. To his credit, he was cogently and calmly complaining all through the process, rather than screaming bloody murder. Interestingly, it is not the staff who regularly man the Block who conduct these operations; staff are brought from elsewhere in the prison. I assume that someone realised that occupants of the Block can hardly have any type of working relationship with staff who may have previously been twisting them up. A rare glimpse into the prison service's single neuron in action?

I myself prefer to walk onto the sweatbox for a transfer. If I’m not happy about it, it's the receiving prison which finds out...

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