Around fifty people descended on HMP Full Sutton, East Yorkshire, in a historic demonstration on Saturday 5th June. Campaign groups are demanding an end to racist violence against incarcerated men of colour Kevan Thakrar and Dwayne Fulgence, and an end to the 1440-bed ‘mega prison’ expansion plan, which has been opposed by the local community members.
The biggest of its kind ever to be held at HMP Full Sutton, this demonstration followed a national wave of protest against state violence and the expansion of police powers in the contested PCSC Bill, which saw thousands take to the streets nationwide on 1st and 29th May.
Speaking at the protest, Cammilla Mngaza said: If they build a new prison they are going to fill it up with Black and Brown people, they’re going to fill it up with Muslims, they are going to fill it up with the deprived.
Campaign groups Sisters Uncut Leeds and Community Action on Prison Expansion (CAPE) are calling for the immediate transfer of Kevan Thakrar to a safer prison, as he has been the victim of racist violence from both guards and other incarcerated men.
Imprisoned since 2008 under the controversial ‘joint enterprise’ law in what his family have called a ‘miscarriage of justice’, Kevan Thakrar was held in ‘Supermax’ Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) – described as ‘prisons within prisons’ – for 11 years, restricted to his cell for 23 or more hours per day. Supporters say this treatment is violent retribution after he defended himself against a racist attack by prison guards in 2010.
Kevan Thakrar has been held in a dirty segregation cell with no electricity since the middle of April 2021. In 2019, he was also stabbed four times by a known racist also incarcerated at Full Sutton.
Dwayne Fulgence, a Black Muslim man also held in the segregation unit at Full Sutton, was severely beaten by four white officers in a racist attack on the 22nd April. The prison denied Dwayne access to medical treatment or a lawyer, and refused his applications to have photos taken of his injuries.
In March, Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, wrote to raise “grave concern at the indefinite and prolonged detention of Mr. Thakrar in what appears to be conditions of solitary confinement,” and expressed concern at the “prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement” in CSCs used generally within the UK prison system, “thus predictably inflicting severe pain or suffering amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, or even torture.”
Mr Thakrar’s mother, Jean Thakrar, said:
“The level of confinement and deprivation of contact with other human beings in CSC’s is comparable to ‘solitary confinement’ due to sensory deprivation and social isolation. This is happening in the UK today. Not a third world country or the United States. Right here on our doorstep! And no one is being held accountable.”
CAPE and Sister Uncut Leeds are also calling for a halt to the government’s plans to build a 1440-bed ‘mega prison’ at the site of HMP Full Sutton, part of the government’s plan to create more than 10,000 new prison places.
A spokesperson from Sisters Uncut Leeds said:
As we see from the horrific racist attacks experienced by Kev and Dwayne, prisons are not the answer to serious violence in our society – they instead create more violence. The planned mega prison at Full Sutton means throwing more money at violence against people from marginalised communities at a time when essential domestic violence services are critically underfunded and austerity has deprived our communities for over a decade.
The Prison Estates Transformation Programme is costing the government obscene amounts of money, yet they continue to refuse to invest in preventing crime from taking place in the first place. Affordable housing, education, mental health services, domestic and sexual violence services are the solutions, not more prisons!
The Ministry of Justice cares more about profiting from the cheap labour of prisoners than they do about protecting people from harm and poverty. We demand an end to the Prison Estates Transformation Programme now. We want investment in services that help people rather than harm people!”
For more on Kevan’s 13-year campaign for freedom, see www.justiceforkevan.org
For more information on the government’s prison expansion programme, see https://corporatewatch.org/prisonisland/