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The Anarchist Black Cross was originated in Tsarist Russia to organise aid for political prisoners. In the late 1960s the organisation resurfaced in Britain, where it first worked to aid prisoners of the Spanish resistance fighting the dictator Franco's police. Now it has expanded and groups are found in many countries around the world. We support anarchist and other class struggle prisoners, fund-raise on behalf of prisoners in need of funds for legal cases or otherwise, and organise demonstrations of solidarity with imprisoned anarchists and other prisoners.

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HMP Woodhill CSC – Suicide Of A Prisoner

Publicity following the recent death of a prisoner at HMP Woodhill's Close Supervision Centre (CSC), which is part of a notorious system of small torture units located within high security prisons has focused almost exclusively on the issue of transgender. Edward (Eddie) Latham had changed his name to Eddie Brown whilst serving time in Rampton secure hospital, and I am told very recently may have changed it again to Joanne Latham. However to attempt to subvert the reason for the death towards gender, which equalities campaigners have seized in an attempt to hijack the tragedy to battle for better rights for transgender prisoners, completely ignores the facts and fails to do justice to the memory of this victim.

For almost two years, Latham had been confined within solitary confinement conditions which are well known to cause suicidal behavior as well as mental deterioration. Added to this was the common brutality and sadistic behaviors of both the local Woodhill CSC personnel, and the national CSC Management Committee who ordered Latham to be kept there. This experience left little to live for resulting in repeated suicide attempts in numerous different ways, all causing great amusement amongst those working there. As Latham was well known to suffer from mental illness even before being made to endure the most extremely oppressive environment English prisons have to offer, the consequences were inevitable.

In order to escape the CSC since it is impossible to progress from it without transfer to a mental hospital, I am told Latham had recently contemplated a sex change in the hope that he could secure a transfer to a female prison where CSC's do not exist. A referral to hospital had been unsuccessful meaning Latham had no option but to die on the CSC until the thought of the possibility of the sex change gave hope where only despair lived. Since the entire duration of Latham's detention on the CSC was in total isolation from all other prisoners it is clear the key issue and cause of death was the conditions and environment, rather than gender. Just imagine the level of desperation required to even consider having a sex change to put an end to the torture of life on the CSC.

Self-harm and self-mutilation are and always have been at the highest levels of anywhere within the entire prison system at the CSC. Suicide attempts are routine with nothing but further unofficial punishment given to the victims by the CSC staff. It was not that long ago that CSC prisoner Lee Foye struggled so much with the extreme environmental stress that he began hearing voices & severed his ear off, then six weeks later was encouraged to cut off the other ear which like the first was done with razors supplied by officers. No less than £45,000 in compensation for the sadistic conduct of the CSC staff was paid to Lee Foye following his claim for negligence, plus all costs to his solicitors all from the Ministry of Justice. Even with all this money being paid out, absolutely nothing has been done to address the reasons for Foye's mental deterioration and conditions have significantly worsened since then. What do you expect to happen when you lock human beings up in isolation in cramped cells for at least 23 hours a day, brutalizing them at every opportunity.

Latham used to complain to me about the inappropriately close relationships of his mental health nurse and the CSC officers. It was common knowledge that she engaged in numerous sexual liaisons with those causing the prisoners under her care so much anguish, since the officers were not shy in boasting about where they had had her. Latham was most upset that personal details he told her in confidence made their way to his tormenters on a routine basis, resulting in his bullying and increase in his restrictions if he had made disclosures about mistreatment. With this level of support it is easy to see how suicide became more and more tempting.

Approximately 50 prisoners are detained within the CSC nationwide in conditions which led to this loss of life. Latham's place at Woodhill has already been filled only days after his death. How many more men will have to go the same way before the full extent of the evil secrecy which is the CSC is exposed, and real action is taken to shut it down saving the lives and minds of its present and future victims.

Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
Close Supervision Centre
HMP Wakefield
5 Love Lane