On 10th May of this year, prison officers across the UK walked out (more info) against plans to raise their pension age. The issues around this are too much to go into here, but Phil Dickens of Truth, Reason & Liberty recently wrote on why supporting striking cops, prison officers and the like can be at best naive, at worst, actively damaging.
Regardless, however, this seems like as good a time as any to look at the other sort of prison strike – that carried out by prisoners themselves. In 1995, prisoners at York’s HMP Full Sutton took part in mass strike action against new measures of punishment and control being introduced. As reported by the anarchist journal Black Flag:
On November 13th, 1995, prisoners at the high security dispersal prison Full Sutton went on a work strike. It’s hard to get accurate information about numbers but one estimate reckons on 250 cons refusing to work. This is a massive show of strength for any prison, but especially for Full Sutton where the authorities have traditionally been quick to crush resistance.
Four of the six wings (i.e. all except those for sex offenders) participated in the strike which started in E-Wing and lasted for 3 days. It was ended by the authorities sending in the MUFTI squad, screws tooled up in riot gear, to break it up. This resulted in some clashes with cons, labelled a “riot” by the press where it was mentioned at all. The protest came after a series of restrictions placed on cons over the previous months and was sparked by a new “Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme” introduced at the start of November.
More information, including personal accounts of the strike, can be found here.