HMP Wakefield: End racist violence against prisoners in segregation, demand demonstrators

CW: mentons of suicide.

Campaigners demonstrated last Sunday at HMP Wakefield to demand an end to racist and inhumane treatment of prisoners kept in the segregation unit. In the last month, prison guards have physically assaulted Black and Jewish prisoners, denied them access to food and letters, and encouraged one prisoner to attempt suicide.

A man in the segregation unit who needs to remain unnamed for his safety said:

The world needs to hear about what’s happening to us in here.”

Michael Peters, a Black Jewish prisoner at HMP Wakefield, was assaulted by guards at least three times in his cell in segregation in October. As a result of this violent treatment, his mental health deteriorated and he became suicidal, making at attempt on his life on 25 October.

On 29 October, Peters was taken off close medical supervision, though he had told officers that he was still suicidal.

Prison guards destroyed Peters’ possessions, including a television and kosher food that he requires as a practising Jew, and denied him access to the canteen, in what friends are calling acts of punishment for his suicide attempt.

Gary, a campaigner and friend of Peters, said:

There is a clear pattern of medical neglect and abuse in the segregation unit at HMP Wakefield, targeted at Black and Jewish prisoners. Staff at HMP Wakefield are not only subjecting prisoners to the torture of solitary confinement, but also pushing them to suicide. This racist and inhumane abuse is not only wrong, it’s illegal.”

The prison has also denied Peters, Shaqueille Plummer and Dwayne Fulgence – all Black prisoners – access to books and letters send to them, which campaigners have said it an attempt to isolate these men and take away materials vital to survival in the conditions of solitary confinement.

Anthony Snow also made a suicide attempt in the segregation unit at HMP Wakefield in September and too has experienced severe medical neglect from the prison.