Saturday, 31 August 2013

Returning A Favour To A Friend

JENGbA relies on the goodwill and encouragement of many people - our Inside Campaigners for their courage and trust - our Outside Supporters for their enthusiasm and practical help. 
One of JENGbA's family is Marcus Marcou, who helped finance our Christmas Letter to Prisoners.  Marcus is also the writer, director and financier of a wonderful new film - Papadopoulos & Sons.
Papadopoulos & Sons
JENGbA is happy to return the favour and we encourage everyone to see this heart-warming, funny and uplifting movie!

Marcus Marcou

You can see the official trailer below...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

'Specialist Intervention' at Strangeways Prison - Letter From Kevan Thakrar (UPDATED)

Kevan Thakrar
JENGbA have been supporting Kevan Thakrar and his family since he first contacted us early on in our campaign. I have been trying to visit him at HMP Woodhill since September 2012 when I sent the application form to visit a CAT A prison which includes photographs and then a visit from my local police to my home.  I was refused permission to visit Kevan in HMP Woodhill the reason given: "as a campaigner I might write about the visit".  This is illegal; journalists are allowed to visit prisoners and anyway I told them I was visiting as a friend.  I have met Kev's family and girlfriend and am proud to call him my friend as he calls me regularly also.  

Since his move to HMP Manchester the prison authorities there are refusing to even deal with my application.  HMP Manchester is given a huge budget from the Tax payer for the 'care and rehabilitation' of vulnerable prisoners.  From what Kevan tells us this prison is simply not fit for purpose and can I please urge all JENGbA campaingers to do what he asks.  They want him to go mad or kill himself he has been told - write to him and show him our support and solidarity for prisoner's human rights.  

Gloria Morrison JENGbA Campaign Co-Ordinator
Unable to break my resolve and provoke me into any violent reaction after three and a half years at HMP Woodhill's notorious Close Supervision Centre (CSC), I was transferred to the Specialist Intervention Unit (SIU) at HMP Manchester (aka 'Strangeways') on 13 June 2013.

Initially, people would be forgiven for thinking that finally getting off the CSC was a good thing, but when it is discovered that the move was due to Woodhill staff 'needing respite', having burned themselves out with their daily actions of brutality, the move is immediately seen in a different light.

Since my arrival here, things have gone from bad to worse. The unit itself is simply six cells which used to form part of the segregation unit, walled off with a temporary partition. It holds a maximum of four prisoners in conditions which could accurately be described as a tomb, with no natural light or ventilation reaching its depths. The temporary partition is being rebuilt further back to expand capacity to eight cells for six prisoners, and the old wall is being knocked down, meaning that the sound of drills and sledgehammers is a regular occurrence.

The structural environment is one thing, but the atmosphere of oppression takes things to a darker level. The unit is operated by segregation staff who carry that same mentality through both sides of the divide - 'prisoners should get nothing and shut up'. No senior manager or governor ever wanders this far to oversee the treatment of the unit's victims, too afraid of what they might find. The Independent Monitoring Board appears to either not know of the existence of the SIU, or not want to know. Aware of all this, segregation officers are free to dish out their version of what prison should be like.

I have lost over a stone and a half since this place became my home. The food portions are tiny and the food hardly eatable. As for purchasing my own food to supplement my diet, with the £4 that I am allowed to spend per week of my own money, and needing to make phone calls, that is not feasible. Anyone who knows about the cost of prisoners' phone calls will be aware of how little talk time £4 buys you, but when landline numbers are barred from my PIN, so only more expensive mobiles can be dialled, it works out to 20 minutes for £4.

But that's ok. I can survive with my regular visits, right? If you class two 30 minute visits per month in closed conditions behind a glass screen as enough, then you must be working for Her Majesty's Prison Service!

So, letter writing it is then. If only my mail actually reached me in a reasonable time or even at all, one letter having taken over 40 days and others are being stolen by the prison. Even my legal mail isn't safe - as well as also being stolen, they have begun to demand that all legal mail is read prior to being issued by them, or I cannot receive it.
So what else can I do to avoid all this abuse? In my cell I have nothing but a few legal papers and mail; the rest of my property has not been allowed. No TV, radio, kettle, hair clippers, nail clippers, religious items or books. That means no hot water or means to keep my hair or nails trimmed. The only 'facilities' I do have are a bed, table to eat from, sink and toilet, which are all within touching distance of each other.

I do get to leave my cell, when they feel like letting me out, but not before being made to stand at the back wall and following a ridiculous set of 'protocols'. I am then searched and 'escorted' to wherever I may be going, which is a very limited number of places. I have a maximum of one hour in the exercise yard when they let me, which is taken in isolation from other prisoners. I then get a maximum of 30 minutes to use the phone and shower under cold water, again when they let me. I have been refused food, as further unofficial punishment but the guy next door to me has been living off bread and water for months so I guess that's accepted practice here.

My solicitor has written to the prison, as have some of my friends and family, but either no response or a pathetic one has been returned. I have submitted complaints but the Acting Governor Hannah Lane has refused to acknowledge or intervene, showing that she is either colluding and actively involved in my treatment, or that she is a useless failure pretending to be in charge. Either way, she is responsible. She cannot continue to ignore the calls from outside the prison walls to get me out of this hell-hole, and copies of all letters to her are being sent to MPs to pressure her further. The more letters received the more pressure she will face, which is why I call on the support of all decent human beings to help me. Please write to your MP to complain about my treatment and demand I be returned to a normal unit where I can be treated with at least some level of humanity and compassion.

As most people who know me are aware, I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and going through such traumatic experience on a daily basis only exacerbates my condition, so at the least, putting me here in the first place was an act of deliberate disability discrimination by those in charge.

Please help. Otherwise, I will be left with nothing but the company of my fellow victims of the Specialist Intervention Unit, if only we weren't banned from speaking to one another, under threat of punishment.

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
SIU - HMP Manchester
Southall Street
M60 9AH

Printed here by kind permission of 'Prisoners Fightback'

Monday, 12 August 2013

More Felony Murder Rule Madness: Marc Traylor

Whatever crimes Marc Traylor may have committed, he wasn't the person who shot dead his accomplice, Laroy Brown.

Both men were shot during an alleged robbery by an off-duty police officer.  Brown died of his injuries while Traylor was arrested after he sought medical help for his gunshot wound.

According to the Felony Murder Rule used by some US states, Traylor is liable for Brown's "murder".  This perverse rule shares similar characteristics to the English Common Law Principle of Joint Enterprise, allowing for the over-prosecution of an accused who is blamed through a process of Collective Liability for the actions of another.  

In the UK, such a prosecution might be unthinkable when the "victim" is a fellow suspect.  But in California, along with several other states, it is considered perfectly legitimate to pass indirect liability for the death of one suspect to another.

This is not sophisticated justice in action: it is a disproportionate abuse of judicial power.  When a democracy fails to treat ALL of its citizens fairly for their individual actions alone, including those who are accused of acting beyond the law, injustices will occur which undermine and debase the very society it seeks to protect.

You can read more about Traylor's Kafkaesque prosecution HERE

Friday, 2 August 2013

A True Story of Going to Prison for Debt: The IRP6 Story

JENGbA has been asked to help share the campaign on behalf of the IRP6 - Joint Enterprise abuse doesn't just happen in the UK!

"A True Story of Going to Prison for Debt:  The IRP6 Story
There is a federal court case that you may not have heard about, but it is a situation that can happen to anyone from any walk of life.  This is the story of the IRP6.
Who are the IRP6?  The IRP6 are IT professionals who are currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Colorado, accused and convicted of mail and wire fraud.  The IRP6 were executives of an IT start-up company called IRP Solutions Corporation.
IRP started in February 2003.  It was marketing its flagship Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC®) software solution to major federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  Prospects included the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  IRP executives were convinced that they were on the verge of closing business with a major governmental agency until the FBI raided the business in Feb 2005.
IRP Solutions was raided by the FBI for allegedly scamming staffing companies.  What really happened was the company responded to requests from the government to modify the CILC software and got behind on paying invoices.  In order to modify their software IRP had to use temporary staffing companies that specialized in technology professionals.  IRP brought these “temps” on board to work on the software, but when IRP did not close business as quickly as it thought, that was when invoices went delinquent and allegations of wrongdoing came up.
This is primarily a story about the vagueness of federal fraud law and how federal prosecutors can use the vagueness of the law to indict, try, convict, and sentence people who are conducting normal business practices.
The IRP6 case is a corporate debt collection case that was criminalized by an over-zealous FBI agent and an over-empowered Assistant U.S. Attorney.  When FBI Special Agent John Smith orchestrated the raid on IRP, he got a search warrant stating, in so many words, that IRP was a front company.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kirsch then prosecuted the case although there were evidence and expert witnesses that would substantiate the legitimacy of IRP Solutions as a business.  Then Federal Judge Christine Arguello, who presided over the case, did not give the IRP6 any reasonable consideration or benefit of the doubt during the trial.  In fact, transcripts are missing that would show critical rights violations that occurred during the trial.
Federal Judge Christine Arguello
The prosecution argued that IRP misrepresented their business position and that IRP never had a viable product.  The jury did not get a chance to hear a solid defense but rather, they heard a prosecution narrative that was crafted to show crimes where there were no crimes.  The prosecution used the vagueness of federal fraud law to achieve the wrongful conviction of IRP by convincing the jury that it was their intent to commit fraud and run a scam.
Who are the IRP6?  They are Gary Walker, CEO; David Banks, COO; Clinton Stewart, VP; David Zirpolo, VP; Kendrick Barnes, CIO; and Demetrius Harper, CEO/DKH.
The IRP6
For complete insights into the IRP6 story, please visit"