Monday, 17 May 2010

Women's rebellion and resistance to prison

"If you want things improving for yourself, and for others as well, don't accept things. People say that you can't change the system. If that was true we'd still be in Newgate on straw. So it does change. But it's got to be changed by the people they accuse of kicking the system."  (Ginger)

One topic that has not been adequately researched is the rebellion and resistance of women in prison. I cannot believe that is because resistance does not occur, but rather because it is not documented. Resistance to the abuse of the prison system is ignored by the media if at all possible, yet there are continuing protests against cruelty towards prisoners in both men's and women's prisons, against oppressive working atmospheres, inaccessible and inadequate medical facilities and treatment, and racial discrimination, and many other conditions at the prison. Many sustain physical injuries and miscarriages as well as punitive punishment in lockup and in segregation, and illegal transfers to State Hospitals for the Criminally Insane where they face behaviour modification programmes. Now more than ever, women are being subjected to more maximum security control units, and isolation within a system which attempts to teach submission to authority through the constant exercising of power, in both serious and petty ways, over prisoners.

More support for the struggles of prisoners is vital. Women inside fight back and resist all the time, although there are few methods of resistance open to prisoners. Many are strong enough and angry enough to face the punishment for talking back to guards, breaking rules, destroying prison property, participating in sit-ins, occupations, work or hunger strikes, and exposing brutality through the media and through lawsuits. Support from the outside is a crucial factor in the success of prisoners' campaigns, contributing to prisoners' strength and making prison administrators respond more quickly to demands.

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