Friday, 2 April 2010

Strangeways 20 years ago

Twenty years ago British prison's saw their most serious unrest.  Eric Allison looks back at them in an excellent article in the Guardian

For the prisoners, it was a justified protest against the appalling conditions in which they were being kept, and against the often brutal treatment handed out by their keepers. For the prison's governor, it was an "explosion of evil".

The Strangeways prison riot, which began 20 years ago tomorrow and lasted 25 days, under an unprecedented glare of media attention, left two men dead and 194 injured. It was followed by 51 criminal trials and a public inquiry that proved to be the most searching examination of penal policy in British history, and resulted in sweeping changes to the penal system. These included an end to "slopping out", whereby prisoners had to urinate and defecate in buckets in their cell; the appointment of a prisons ombudsman; and the introduction of telephones on landings so prisoners could keep in closer touch with their families.

But the Woolf inquiry into the riot also unearthed evidence – largely ignored by politicians and the media – indicating that it could and should have been avoided.
For the rest of this article click here

Update - The BBC has an excellent Audio Slideshow of their coverage of the riot/uprising - here

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