Tag-Archiv für 'prison'

Fuck X-Mas if you want – but don‘t forget our Prisoners!

Christmas and new year’s eve are coming. We don‘t care too much about these yearly rituals and we are free to ignore all this christmas hustle. But for prisoners it’s nearly the hardest time within a year. It’s getting cold and the lots of feast days end up in a melancholic attitude in the jailhouse. Beloved friends and family members are seperated by the grey walls of ignorance of this prison society.

So take a stand and do some jailhouserock! A letter or a postcard seems nothing compared to this brutal system… But to send some varienty behind the walls is a small brick of solidarity everybody can do and it cuts the disconnection and isolation which is forced by the prison system for some minutes.

The prisoners are our dignity and pride! All for one – one for all!

New Years Eve: The Passion for Freedom is Stronger than All Prisons

What better way to say goodbye to the departing year and greet the new one than by greetings the friends and comrades in prison, and generally taking the opportunity to denounce the prison system as a whole. In many cities, this is a welcome tradition. Here is a video of anarchist comrades outside Korydallos prison last year…

And the poster for this year…

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In Germanland…

Hamburg I: 22:30 Uhr | Demo zum Knast, U-Feldstraße
Hamburg II: 23:30 Uhr | Kundgebung vor dem UG Holstenglacis
Köln: 18 Uhr | Knast-Demo, Haltestelle Rektor-Klein-Straße, Linie 5, Ossendorf

They are in There for Us, Were Out Here for Them!

For the final note of 2010, as customary, a poem from the terribly underappreciated anarchist poet and writer Voltairine de Cleyre (a book of her writings can be found here), titled Ave et Vale

Comrades, what matter the watch-night tells
That a New Year comes or goes?
What to us are the crashing bells
That clang out the Century’s close?

What to us is the gala dress?
The whirl of the dancing feet?
The glitter and blare in the laughing press,
And din of the merry street?

Do we not know that our brothers die
In the cold and the dark tonight?
Shelterless faces turned toward the sky
Will not see the New Year’s light?

Wandering children, lonely, lost,
Drift away on the human sea,
While the price of their lives in a glass is tossed
And drunk in a revelry!

Ah, know we not in their feasting halls
Where the loud laugh echoes again,
That brick and stone in the mortared walls
Are bones of murdered men?

Slowly murdered! By day and day,
The beauty and strength are reft,
Till the Man is sapped and sucked away,
And a Human Rind is left!

A Human Rind, with old, thin hair,
And old thin voice to pray
For alms in the bitter winter air,—
A knife at his heart always.

And the pure in heart are impure in flesh
For the cost of a little food:
Lo, when the Gleaner of Time shall thresh,
Let these be accounted good.

For these are they who in bitter blame
Eat the bread whose salt is sin;
Whose bosoms are burned with the scarlet shame,
Till their hearts are seared within.

The cowardly jests of a hundred years
Will be thrown where they pass tonight,
Too callous for hate, and too dry for tears,
The saddest of human blight.

Do we forget them, these broken ones,
That our watch tonight is set?
Nay, we smile in the face of the year that comes
Because we do not forget.

We do not forget the tramp on the track,
Thrust out in the wind-swept waste,
The curses of Man upon his back,
And the curse of God in his face.

The stare in the eyes of the buried man
Face down in the fallen mine;
The despair of the child whose bare feet ran
To tread out the rich man’s wine;

The solemn light in the dying gaze
Of the babe at the empty breast,
The wax accusation, the somber glaze
Of its frozen and rigid rest;

They are all in the smile that we turn to the east
To welcome the Century’s dawn;
They are all in our greeting to Night’s high priest,
As we bid the Old Year begone.

Begone and have done, and go down and be dead
Deep drowned in your sea of tears!
We smile as you die, for we wait the red
Morn-gleam of a hundred-years

That shall see the end of the age-old wrong,—
The reapers that have not sown,—
The reapers of men with their sickles strong
Who gather, but have not strown.

For the earth shall be his and the fruits thereof
And to him the corn and wine,
Who labors the hills with an even love
And knows not „thine and mine.

And the silk shall be to the hand that weaves.
The pearl to him who dives,
The home to the builder; and all life’s sheaves
To the builder of human lives.

And none go blind that another see.
Or die that another live;
And none insult with a charity
That is not theirs to give.

For each of his plenty shall freely share
And take at another’s hand:
Equals breathing the Common Air
And toiling the Common Land.

A dream? A vision? Aye, what you will;
Let it be to you as it seems:
Of this Nightmare Real we have our fill;
Tonight is for „pleasant dreams.“

Dreams that shall waken the hope that sleeps
And knock at each torpid Heart
Till it beat drum taps, and the blood that creeps
With a lion’s spring upstart!

For who are we to be bound and drowned
In this river of human blood?
Who are we to lie in a swound,
Half sunk in the river mud?

Are we not they who delve and blast
And hammer and build and burn/
Without us not a nail made fast!
Not a wheel in the world should turn!

Must we, the Giant, await the grace
That is dealt by the puny hand
Of him who sits in the feasting place,
While we, his Blind Jest, stand

Between the pillars? Nay, not so:
Aye, if such things were true,
Better were Gaza again, to show
What the giant’s rage may do!

Bet yet not this: it were wiser far
To enter the feasting hall
And say to the Masters, „These things are
Not for you alone, but all.“

And this shall be in the Century
that opes on our eyes to-night;
So here’s to the struggle, if it must be,
And to him who fights the fight.

And here’s to the dauntless, jubilant throat
That loud to its Comrade sings,
Till over the earth shrills the mustering note,
And the World Strike’s signal rings.

— Philadelphia, 1st January 1901

Norway Builds the World’s Most Humane Prison

The title is of course not ours, if it were „humane“ would be in quotes. But still, the emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment is certainly a welcome departure from the standard discourse in regards to „crime and punishment.“ Furthermore, the mentions to the role of the media in sensationalizing crime and the „rehabilitation“ statistics are in left-wing circles widely known facts, but surprising and pleasant to read this a mainstream media outlike the likes of Time magazine.

Original article from: Time Magazine

By the time the trumpets sound, the candles have been lit and the salmon platters garnished. Harald V, King of Norway, enters the room, and 200 guests stand to greet him. Then a chorus of 30 men and women, each wearing a blue police uniform, launches into a spirited rendition of „We Are the World.“ This isn‘t cabaret night at Oslo’s Royal Palace. It’s a gala to inaugurate Halden Fengsel, Norway’s newest prison.

Ten years and 1.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($252 million) in the making, Halden is spread over 75 acres (30 hectares) of gently sloping forest in southeastern Norway. The facility boasts amenities like a sound studio, jogging trails and a freestanding two-bedroom house where inmates can host their families during overnight visits. Unlike many American prisons, the air isn‘t tinged with the smell of sweat and urine. Instead, the scent of orange sorbet emanates from the „kitchen laboratory“ where inmates take cooking courses. „In the Norwegian prison system, there’s a focus on human rights and respect,“ says Are Hoidal, the prison’s governor. „We don‘t see any of this as unusual.“

Halden, Norway’s second largest prison, with a capacity of 252 inmates, opened on April 8. It embodies the guiding principles of the country’s penal system: that repressive prisons do not work and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. „When they arrive, many of them are in bad shape,“ Hoidal says, noting that Halden houses drug dealers, murderers and rapists, among others. „We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people.“ Countries track recidivism rates differently, but even an imperfect comparison suggests the Norwegian model works. Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway’s prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.K. and the U.S., the figure hovers between 50% and 60%. Of course, a low level of criminality gives Norway a massive advantage. Its prison roll lists a mere 3,300, or 69 per 100,000 people, compared with 2.3 million in the U.S., or 753 per 100,000 — the highest rate in the world.

Design plays a key role in Halden’s rehabilitation efforts. „The most important thing is that the prison looks as much like the outside world as possible,“ says Hans Henrik Hoilund, one of the prison’s architects. To avoid an institutional feel, exteriors are not concrete but made of bricks, galvanized steel and larch; the buildings seem to have grown organically from the woodlands. And while there is one obvious symbol of incarceration — a 20-ft. (6 m) concrete security wall along the prison’s perimeter — trees obscure it, and its top has been rounded off, Hoilund says, „so it isn‘t too hostile.“

The cells rival well-appointed college dorm rooms, with their flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Designers chose long vertical windows for the rooms because they let in more sunlight. There are no bars. Every 10 to 12 cells share a living room and kitchen. With their stainless-steel countertops, wraparound sofas and birch-colored coffee tables, they resemble Ikea showrooms.

Halden’s greatest asset, though, may be the strong relationship between staff and inmates. Prison guards don‘t carry guns — that creates unnecessary intimidation and social distance — and they routinely eat meals and play sports with the inmates. „Many of the prisoners come from bad homes, so we wanted to create a sense of family,“ says architect Per Hojgaard Nielsen. Half the guards are women — Hoidal believes this decreases aggression — and prisoners receive questionnaires asking how their experience in prison can be improved.

There’s plenty of enthusiasm for transforming lives. „None of us were forced to work here. We chose to,“ says Charlott-Renee Sandvik Clasen, a music teacher in the prison and a member of Halden’s security-guard chorus. „Our goal is to give all the prisoners — we call them our pupils — a meaningful life inside these walls.“ It’s warmth like that, not the expensive television sets, that will likely have the most lasting impact.

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