Media release: Prisoners Strike Consultation – International Prison Justice Day
August 10, 2011
"Justice Action announced today, August 10, International Prison Justice Day the launch of a consultation for a prisoners strike possibly extending to mental health patients, and others held in detention" said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.
"Strikes by powerless people held in custody are the ultimate weapon available to them. They are a cry of desperation and have a long history of anguish and pain. Justice Action has been asked by detainees for many years to coordinate such an action in their fight to being recognised as people with human rights and dignity. Prisoners and their families are frustrated by the lies and contempt. The question is raised: 'Have governments lost their moral authority to imprison their citizens?'" said Mr Collins.
"Detainees rely on outside community support to hold governments accountable. Funded organisations are compromised, and the courts avoid interference. Families and communities have limited access. The power structure guarantees abuse, as the history in every country has shown. Prisoner initiatives of goodwill such as the ‘Offer of Hope’, are ignored. The OUR PICK Report exposes corruption and raises questions that have been unanswered. Its analysis proposing effective use of services intended for detainees' benefit has been ignored" said Mr Collins.
Governments ignore official reports based on academic research and Inquiries as it is easier to continue on course. The horrendous twenty percent dying within one year of their release, 60% Hepatitis C infection rate without protection, and 60% recidivism rate for youth tell the story. Those held for 'care' in hospitals have no support against attacks on their personal integrity like their right to think uniquely or possess a name. Governments reject community values for change. On whether to build a new women’s jail 137 of 138 submissions, said no. On prison privatisation 442 of 453 said no. Only government and big business supported them" said Mr Collins.
"Detainees by definition are held in isolation and subject to discrimination. They are the 'others' about whom unfounded fears are created, whilst expanding industries exploit the taxpayer for up to $200,000 a person each year, causing greater damage in the process" said Mr Collins.
"The proposed form of the strike is disciplined, non-violent, non-compliance with authority. It would mean the shut down of industries and administrative support, but with different expressions based on personal decisions – not imposed by threats or violence. It would only end with recognition of the right to bargain with direct detainee expression. If agreement is reached after this consultation Justice Action undertakes to provide outside coordination and services" said Mr Collins.
For comment: Brett Collins 0438 705003