Prison officials like to claim that the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) exists to remove the most significantly disruptive, challenging and dangerous prisoners from ordinary location and to enable these prisoners an opportunity to develop a more settled and acceptable pattern of behaviour.
The ‘worst of the worst’ designation defines the inhabitants of the CSC as fundamentally ‘other’ and dehumanises, degrades and demonises us as essentially different from other prisoners. It provides an immediate, intuitive and unassailable rationale for the added punishment, extraordinary control and severe deprivation which prevail in the CSC. All the discomforts of life in a CSC unit have been brought upon prisoners by ‘our own behaviour’. The Prison Service’s frequent recourse to horror stories about prisoners’ dangerousness also helps to ‘shift’ the blame over anything that happens to us in the CSC onto ourselves. This technique of ‘condemning the condemners’ allows prison workers to further neutralise any criticisms of their policies and practices and to justify, to themselves and others, the harsh treatment of CSC prisoners.
The fact that the design of the CSC is more likely to induce violence than to reduce it is not comprehensible by the corrupt Prison Service management or staff, with whom the temptation is strong to treat us as less than another human being. It is the same process that is brought to bear in wartime – the enemy, soldier and civilian alike, are demonised, and whatever happens to them is of little concern.
Prisoners are more isolated, observed and controlled, afforded less human contact and suffer more sensory deprivation than anywhere in Britain. According to criminologist Anthony Bottoms: ‘to impose additional physical restrictions, especially of a severe character, will almost certainly lead to a legitimacy deficit, and that deficit may well in the end play itself out in enhanced violence’.
So the Prison Service’s claims about the positive impact of the CSC on dangerous and disruptive prisoners are evidently false. It is impossible for any prison trainee psychologist to help CSC prisoners achieve a level to progress to normal location, whilst we are suffering under the conditions of the CSC itself. So why are we here?
Interference with mail
The security department at Woodhill CSC has made itself obstructive in my attempts to contact anyone over the last two and a half years. Mail repeatedly goes missing or is stopped for unlawful excuses; phone numbers are deleted from my PIN and applications to add numbers to call are ignored or rejected; visitors’ approval applications sit for months without any action or are rejected for no reason.
Daniel Guedalla of Birnberg Peirce solicitors issued a letter before action some time ago about this abuse, but the prison didn’t even bother to respond so it seems judicial review is inevitable.
While all CSC prisoners suffer intensely, this particular harassment by security is specific to me. To demonstrate this, I recently received a notice of a stopped incoming letter. The thing about this letter is that it was actually posted by another prisoner in HMP Woodhill. What this means is that the letter is suitable for security checks on one prisoner but not for me. If there was a legitimate issue with the letter, the prison wouldn’t have allowed it out in the first place (all mail must be posted out to Royal Mail and back in, even if it is addressed to the prisoner next door to you!) so I wouldn’t have had cause to complain.
To the many people who have written to me without response, I can only apologise for HMP Woodhill’s corruption. I do respond to all mail which I receive with a return address.
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
Why allow it to continue?
Since my arrival at Wakefield’s Close Supervision Centre (CSC), I have experienced something unlike any other prison in the pure extent of the blatant racism which is encouraged by prison officers. Benefits and bonuses are given to prisoners are kept in total isolation there is little action which can be taken against the culprits.
For several weeks now the racist Islamophobic prisoner Nathan Livesy from Manchester who has been the main perpetrator of these attacks. Currently undergoing an assessment for his suitability for selection onto the CSC system following slashing another prisoners face at HMP Manchester, and expulsion from Ashworth High security hospital due to his predatory behaviour, Livesy is looking for any way possible to please his captors. He has taken to squirting urine and spitting out of the window onto the ethnic minorities which the officers deliberately place in the exercise cage directly adjacent to his cell, as well as continuously abusing them whilst the officers stand by laughing. Having made open threats to “kill the first Muslim” he sees, Livesy believes he will be returned to normal location in order to carry out his plan.
Supporting Livesy in all these actions is the uncle Tom suffering from a serious identity crisis, Clifton ‘Yankee’ Jeter. As reported in the news last month, Jeter is “terrified” of Muslim prisoners and so he deliberately acts to avoid ever having to mix with any. However this does not excuse his racist abuse which is so frequent he has been rewarded with a Playstation 2, DVD player and extra gym sessions by the oppressors managing the unit. Having obviously lost his much through the self imposed isolation he has been in since 2011, Jeter has been just as easy as Livesy to manipulate into doing the screws bidding.
Other prisoner engaging in this discriminatory behaviour include Nathan Mann from Leicester and Simon Meyer from Manchester. Both of these suffer from serious mental illness, Mann having been repeatedly referred to Brampton Hospital and Meyer having been expelled from Ashworth hospital, making them vulnerable to the poison spread by the officers racist views. They have been told they have earned progressive moves to HMP Woodhill CSC where they intend to continue in the same fashion. Considering Mann is in prison for breaking to an old peoples home, touching up an old woman as she slept then killing her before repeating the actions against her neighbour, you would expect him to keep quiet and avoid becoming involved in conflict, but with the encouragement of his fellow racists he seems to have nothing to fear.
Imagine all this on a daily basis taking place, yet reportedly in the Guardian was the so called Mindfulness being offered here. In an environment which is structurally oppressive coupled with the extreme discrimination present and brutal regime, any claim of a meditation class is totally ridiculous. Meditation is not the cure to being tortured, especially when it is being offered by those conducting the torture. Close the unit down and ban solitary confinement which has been proven to cause serious harm, then maybe the victims of Wakefield’s CSC will not need to meditate! The most expensive unit in the prison system is also the worst, why allow it to continue?
Monday 30th November 2015
Almost six years have passed since I was first condemned to live within England’s most brutal and notorious prison conditions known as the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. The CSC is a collection of small isolation units within the high security prison estate used to psychologically torture and dehumanize those prisoners that have most embarrassed the prison service, or endangered the cult or who call themselves the Prison Officers Association (POA). Effectively each victim is more appropriately described as a political prisoner due to their mistreatment within the CSC even if they are ordinary criminals on a normal prison sentence, since the oppressive way they are forced to spend their time is so far removed from the experiences of those on main location that they would not be able to even comprehend the massive extent of the differences themselves and the CSC political prisoners.
During my personal experience of this unsparing environment, a steady progression towards a much more severe regime and more frequent abuse has been witnesses whilst the capacity and size of the CSC has continued to expand. Victims have been unable to succeed in escaping this hell without first being driven insane, and only then do they manage to elude the fire by being sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 to a high security hospital in order to attempt to treat them for the damage the extreme environmental stress has caused. If these patients are successful in recovering from their damaged minds, they are then returned to the CSC to be broken again and again. It is no wonder then that in my time on the CSC, the CSC population has doubled, and the characters it has comprised of has included more and more severely mentally ill men.
Earlier this year Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) had an opportunity to address the inhumanity of the CSC system when it performed its so called ‘thematic review’. Unfortunately HMCIP chose instead to cover up the appalling sight which is already kept hidden from the rest of the world, with the inevitable result that conditions drastically worsened with the CSC management feeling they are free to torture its victims without fear of exposure. Previous inspectors such as Sir David Ramsbotham had condemned the prison system, but times have changed with torture effectively now being condemned.
Back in 2001, the then director general of the prison service, Martin Narey, sanctioned the expansion of the CSC system to include the Exceptional Risk Unit (ERU) at HMP Wakefield. When he announced the opening of the dungeon he made the statement ‘I do not expect prisoners to die there, I would expect them to move on when their dangerousness has reduced – but that would take a long time. Since then one of the residents unlucky enough to be placed there has managed to die of age related illness, Frederick Lowe, yet no move to change the operation of the CSC in any way but to further oppress has been seen. The former director of high security prisons, Peter Atherton, when speaking of the CSC has said: ‘The prison service recognizes that these segregation conditions are now quite inappropriate. We should be seeking to develop a unit which, within the restrictions that we have to maintain is humane and meets the needs that they have’. Unfortunately the idea for the creation of the CSC system came from the Spurr Report, the author now being the director general of the national offender management service with the power to roll back all progressive changes ever made to his sadistic plan, things were only ever going to go one way.
Unable to cope in these torture units back when the experiment first began in 1998, prisoners took to challenging the regime, conditions and their placement there. With the idealistic removal of legal aid by Chris Grayling MP, the CSC’s victims have been left in a much more desperate situation than ever before. It should come as no surprise to hear then that after repeated requests to transfer by the formal mental health patient, Lee Scott, this political prisoner took to slashing the prison officers, who were brutalizing him with a razor blade which earned him an immediate exit from the unit to another prison. Scott was my replacement on Woodhill CSC when I was ambushed with a transfer to worse conditions a year ago in January 2015. He lasted only nine months before being able to take no more in a place I have spent some four years detained since 2010. This however, is not the truly harrowing development which was always going to happen, only part of the story.
Almost a year ago, Douglas Gary Vinter took to seriously assaulting fellow CSC prisoner, Lee Newell, causing permanent brain damage and leaving him missing an eye. This attack came several months of both men repeatedly requesting to transfer out of Woodhill CSC, until the local management decided to eliminate the causes of their annoyance and lock them both in a cage unsupervised knowing Vinter was suffering from Psychosis due to the environmental stress, then waiting for their desired result. Vinter secured a transfer to another CSC whilst Newell spent weeks chained to a hospital bed whilst in a coma, making both of them no longer needing to request to leave.
Some of you may have seen the letter printed in Inside Time earlier this year by EB from HMP Woodhill. EB was in fact Eddie Brown, the ex Rampton Hospital patient from Manchester who had been a CSC victim for around two years. He had made repeated suicide attempts since his allocation to the CSC including swallowing batteries and slashing his wrists with razors provided by sadistic prison officers working there. EB explained his desperation and despair at the regime and the conditions of imprisonment he was suffering in the CSC which is most accurately described as solitary confinement. Rather than show some humanity and take action to support this man who was known to have serious mental health issues even before being referred to the CSC, in fact his mental state was the reason for his CSC allocation, he was left with what the Prison Reform Trust have previously called ‘an austere and impoverished regime’ more than fifteen years ago. The consequences of this complete lack of care for the CSC management is that one more space has become available in which to torture another victim as Eddie Brown was able to hang himself on Friday 27th November 2015. This successful suicide attempt was at least encouraged by all of those working within the CSC, but the responsibility for this loss of life also lies at the door of the HMCIP for refusing to maintain their professionalism and write an honest inspection report, as well as the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) for failing to take action in the majority of the CSC treatment and conditions complaints and Chris Grayling MP for leaving England’s political prisoners with no means to challenge the torture gleefully inflicted by the sadistic POA.
Death is a rate of escape contemplated daily by the CSC prisoners, and attempted routinely by those who realise it is the only way left for them to be able to leave the CSC. How many more lives will need to be wasted before an end is put to this stupid experiment, and will the public ever be informed of the torture their taxes are funding right here within England’s prisons to British citizens. The loss of Eddie Brown is a tragedy, but one which can be used to build hope and create positive change so badly needed if only it can come soon maybe other lives can be saved.
The only option is to terminate the CSC system and begin treating prisoners like human beings. Return the legal aid needed to expose and challenge abuses like this, remove the plague of corruption from within HMCIP and PPO, and eliminate the scourge that is the POA who fight to be able to abuse and torture prisoners which as we all see they are willing to continue until they cause the prisoners death. An inquest or enquiry will not be enough, only when the CSC is finished will its victims be safe.
End solitary confinement, shut down the CSC, stop the torture now
Wednesday 2nd December 2015
HMP Woodhill CSC – Suicide of a prisoner
Publicity following the recent death of a prisoner at HMP Woodhill’s Close Supervision Centre (CSC), which is part of a notorious system of small torture units located within high security prisons has focused almost exclusively on the issue of transgender Edward (Eddie) Latham had changed his name to Eddie Brown whilst serving time in Rrampton secure hospital, and I am told very recently may have changed it again to Joanne Latham. However to attempt to subvert the reason for the death towards gender, which equalities campaigners have seized in an attempt to hijack the tragedy to battle for better rights for transgender prisoners, completely ignores the facts and fails to do justice to the memory of this victim.
For almost two years, Latham had been confined within solitary confinement conditions which are well known to cause suicidal behaviour as well as mental deterioration. Added to this was the common brutality and sadistic behaviours of both the local Woodhill CSC personnel, and national CSC Management Committee who ordered Latham to be kept there. This experience left little to live for resulting in repeated suicide attempts in numerous different ways, all causing great amusement amongst those working there. As Latham was well known to suffer from mental illness even before being made to endure the most extremely oppressive environment English prisons have to offer, the consequences were inevitable.
In order to escape the CSC since it is impossible to progress from it without transfer to a mental hospital, I am told Latham had recently contemplated a sex change in the hope that he could secure a transfer to a female prison where CSC’s do not exist. A referral to hospital had been unsuccessful meaning Latham had no option but to die on the CSC until the thought of the possibility of the sex change gave hope where only despair lived. Since the entire duration of Latham’s detention on the CSC was in total isolation from all other prisoners it is clear the key issue and cause of death was the conditions and environment, rather than gender. Just imagine the level of desperation required for a man to even consider having a sex change to put an end to the torture of life on the CSC.
Self-harm and self-mutilation are and always have been at the highest levels of anywhere within the entire prison system at the CSC. Suicide attempts are routine with nothing but further unofficial punishment given to the victims by the CSC staff. It was not that long ago that CSC prisoner Lee Foye struggled so much with the extreme environmental stress that he began hearing voices then severed his ear off, then six weeks later was encouraged to cut off the other ear which like the first was done with razors supplied by officers. No less than £45,000 in compensation for the sadistic conduct of the CSC staff was paid to Lee Foye following his claim for negligence, plus all costs to his solicitors all from the Ministry of Justice. Even with all this money being paid out, absolutely nothing has been done to address the reasons for Foye’s mental deterioration and conditions have significantly worsened since then. What do you expect to happen when you lock human beings up in isolation in cramped cells for at least 23 hours a day, brutalizing them at every opportunity.
Latham used to complain to me about the inappropriately close relationships of his mental health nurse and the CSC officers. It was common knowledge that she engaged in numerous sexual liaisons with those causing the prisoners under her care so much anguish, since the officers were not shy in boasting about where they had had her. Latham was most upset that personal details he told her in confidence made their way to his tormenters on a routine basis, resulting in his bullying and increase in his restrictions if he had made disclosures about mistreatment. With this level of support it is easy to see how suicide became more and more tempting.
Approximately 50 prisoners are detained within the CSC nationwide in conditions which led to this loss of life. Latham’s place at Woodhill has already been filled only days after his death. How many more men will have to go the same way before the full extent of the evil secrecy which is the CSC is exposed, and real action is taken to shut it down saving the lives and minds of its present and future victims.
Wednesday 2nd December
Writing on HMP Wakefield ERU Fascist Regime.
Within the high security estate are hidden small torture units known as the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. The CSC has been notorious for its brutality since it began back in 1998 yet has been allowed to expand at massive cost to the prisons budget. In 2001 another more oppressive level to the CSC was created labelled the Exceptional Risk Unit based at HMP Wakefield, able to hold a maximum of 8 prisoners. 4 more spaces were added for CSC prisoners in the cells abode those labelled Exceptional Risk in 2012, making a total of 12 possible victims held under the oppressive conditions in the country.
Unable to cope with the environmental stress, several of these victims have become willing to do anything to please their captors. These broken men turned into the most racist extremists, hating all you are not White English Christians including themselves. Effectively brainwashed and desperate to progress out of both of the Exceptional Risk Unit and the CSC, these broken men provide entertainment to the laughing screws by subjecting all on the unit outside their newly learned definition of acceptable human beings to a continuous onslaught of discriminative abuse. In order to boost the numbers of those engaging in this behaviour known as racists are deliberately transferred into the unit, whilst minorities are kept to a minimum and isolated as far as possible from being able to access any meaningful or sensible interaction with others.
Over the past 18 months alone, at least 3 of the prisoners detained at HMP Wakefield’s CSC have felt that they have been bullied and oppressed so much so by both fellow prisoners and staff, that they have been left with no other option but to change their religion from Muslim to Christian. One at a time until they felt forced to abandon their beliefs, Jason Jay, Dano Sonnex and Douglas Gary Vinter were subjected to the most vile Islamophobic abuse without any support from the prisons so called Imam. Following each capitulation were celebrations and congratulations for another job well done by those running the unit and their puppets, then the transfer in of the next target in what is a systematic attack on Islamic prisoners.
None of this is new, HMP Wakefield has always been known to operate racist regime enforced by an all white workforce, and the CSC has been open since 2001 here. Over time and with the techniques learned through Psychological training which is mandatory for all CSC officers, an efficient system has been developed which the CSC management committee now utilize to its maximum resulting in prisoner after prisoner abandoning their beliefs. This serves several purposes such as reducing the excessively high statistics showing Muslims are disproportionately subjected to detention within the CSC system, creating an army of racist extremists and satisfying the lust to see minorities tortured and broken by the sadistic scum who designed and implement this outrageous scheme.
One by one the racist prisoners who are deemed to have been indoctrinate into the belief system commonly propagated by the Prison Officers Association (POA) are provided with progressive transfers to other prisoners, only to be replaced by another weak mind ripe for indoctrination, but only after assurances have been given that these brainwashed fools will spread their hate and harm any prisoner they meet who falls outside their acceptable characteristics. Recent graduates from this evil plot include Simon Meyer from Manchester who received a progressive move to HMP Full Sutton for his work, and Nathan Mann from Leicester who got his much wanted transfer to HMP Woodhill, both leaving others hungry to achieve the success they have,
Right now, I remain the sole prisoner at HMP Wakefield’s CSC of the Islamic faith, and am suffering constant racial and Islamophobic attacks which have been taking place for months. Before anyone else is put through this torture, action must be taken to ban any minorities or Muslims from being located here. Being picked off one at a time leaves us needing the support of the community outside more than ever, one man can not be expected to bring down the whole fascist regime.
A protest demonstration has been organised outside NOMS HQ (this will take place on the 18th February from 12.30pm – 2.30pm) against the fascist regime, the CSC and my ingoing politically motivated detention within both the Exceptional Risk Unit and the CSC in general. In order to achieve real change I ask that everyone who can please make the time to attend this event, and all those who are unable to sure write to your MP demanding change as well as signing my online petition. I thank you all in advance for your much needed support and look forward to hearing how successful you all are.