In England and Wales, the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence was a form of indeterminate sentence introduced by s.225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (with effect from 2005) and abolished in 2012.
Lord Blunkett brought in the sentence for offenders that were extremely high risk such as murderers and paedophiles, however due to judges not being precisely aware of what they should be used for, instead of 900 offenders receiving one, 9,000 received one. Since the sentences were abolished in 2012, 4,000 offenders still remain in prison.
Originally when the sentence was brought in offenders were set a minimum term (tariff) which they must spend in prison. After they had completed their tariff they could apply to the Parole Board for release. The Parole Board was told to only release an offender if it was satisfied that there was no longer a necessity for the protection of the public for the offender to be confined. However this was not the case. Even the most vulnerable of offenders that have completed all courses asked of them whilst in prison are still awaiting release.
In an article on 16 August 2017, fifteen years after the IPP’s implementation, and five years since it was abolished, its creator Lord David Blunkett says he made a mistake. “I’m to blame for IPP,” he remarks in an exclusive interview, “and we would do it differently now. If I had my time again I would have ensured from the beginning that the IPP could only be applied for people with very substantial tariffs.” This does not help those still in prison with no release in sight and away from those that they love.
The Guardian reported on 14 August 2017 that Nick Hardwick, Chairman of the Parole Board and also a former chief inspector of prisons in England and Wales, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that hundreds of prisoners are serving time several years over the minimum tariffs set for them, and many are prone to self-harm as a result:
“The levels of suicide, assault, and self-harm is unacceptably high. It’s the fault of political and policy decisions that should have been put right two years ago.”
Recent figures show that there are 550 incidents of self-harm for every 1,000 IPP prisoners. This compares with 324 incidents for every 1,000 prisoners serving determinate or fixed terms, and is more than twice the rate of 200 per 1,000 prisoners for those serving life sentences.
A report released by the Criminal Law & Justice Weekly on 7 January 2017, stated that the recall rate for IPP sentence prisoners was high compared with those with life sentences, i.e. Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners (ISP). In 2015, around 500 IPP sentence prisoners were released, but 391 were recalled in this period. Most of this was not related to reoffending, but rather to “risky” behaviour such as the use of alcohol/drugs, which can still manifest in the community. In addition, through discussion with recalled IPP prisoners, there is some anecdotal evidence that gaps in the provision of some key community services, for example mental health services, can lead to a breakdown of the release plan.
The reasons for recall varied greatly, from relatively minor breaches in licence conditions to serious reoffending. Once recalled, prisoners often spent months in prison before a decision was made about whether the recall was justified, and whether they should remain in prison. However, the Parole Board says the serious reoffending rate for IPP prisoners on release is very low, estimated at less than 1%.
My partner Ian Hartley is suffering greatly from the mental torture of serving this inhumane sentence and actually wrote a letter informing people of his thoughts and feelings (see the link below). Each time I visit him he tells me of the long nights when he lies scared in his cell of what he is thinking. He has told me that the only reason he has not committed suicide is because of me and how I would feel if I was left without him. It is cruel to keep a human being on an indefinite sentence, expecting them to complete courses and adhere to instructions when there is no end in sight for them.
I leave each visit with a heavy heart knowing that I have left Ian alone and isolated. It absolutely breaks me thinking of him in that cell surrounded by four walls with no expectations or hope whatsoever. I will do everything I can in the way of protesting and marching to raise awareness of the remaining serving IPPs and also those that are at risk from recall. But at the end of the day it is down to David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, to do something about these prisoners. Many have served their time, plus an extra sentence, because they have been left and forgotten about after the abolishment of the IPP sentences in 2012.
Link: A letter from Ian Hartley
Notes: Ian Hartley is currently imprisoned on an IPP sentence in HMP Risley. He is suffering and vulnerable as a direct result of the barbarity of the IPP system. The content of his letter has been published with his permission - it gives us an idea about what daily life is for IPP prisoners.
Author: Joanne Hibbert is an anti-IPP campaigner from Lancashire
Leah Feldman, whose funeral was held in London on January 7th, 1994, was one of the ordinary women and men who, while rarely featuring in history books, have been the backbone of the anarchist movement.
Born in Warsaw in 1899, as a schoolgirl she became interested in anarchism. She said that her mother used to hide her shoes so that she couldn’t attend meetings which were then illegal in Poland. Later, she ran away to her sister in London where she earned a living at the sewing machine.
Working in the sweatshops of the East End, Leah became active in the Yiddish-speaking anarchist movement that flourished in those days. When the Russian revolution broke out in 1917 the overwhelming majority of Russian male Jewish anarchists returned home. Many of those women whose husbands and lovers died at the hands of the Tsarists or the Bolsheviks remained in England. (The Jewish - in the sense of neither racial nor religious but Yiddish-speaking - anarchist movement gradually dwindled and ended with Leah’s death). At the time, however, Leah made her own way to Russia. Upon arrival she saw the reality of Bolshevik rule and was not impressed. As a working woman she could see the effects of dictatorship in a way that visiting intellectuals could not. Before leaving Moscow she attended Kropotkin's funeral, the last permitted anarchist demonstration until the collapse of Stalinism. (In a great display of self-discipline all of the anarchist political prisoners who were paroled for the funeral returned to jail in the hope that the Bolsheviks would give parole to others in the future).
Leah travelled south to Ukraine and joined the anarchist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army led by Nestor Makhno. The Ukrainian anarchists fought Tsarism, foreign intervention and then the Bolshevik dictatorship. Though she didn’t actually fight (some women who could ride horseback did) she joined the train that followed the army and prepared clothes and food for the orphans and strays they picked up everywhere. When they were defeated in 1921 she got out of the country by changing her nationality through a marriage of convenience with a German anarchist. They did not meet again. She made her way to Paris and then back to London. There she acquired British citizenship by another marriage of convenience, this time to a derelict ex-serviceman who was paid £10 for his services. They didn’t see each other until many years later when Leah received an official communication that he was in a geriatric hospital. She then used to visit him with presents of tobacco.
Before World War II she travelled to Poland and Palestine, working her way to both places. In Palestine she organised a federation of anarchists. One surprise was meeting her old friend Paula Green who, having been pressured into marriage in Russia, had chosen the atheist Zionist with whom she was in love. Paula knew he was active in Labour politics but thought it impossible he would ever be in government, just as he thought her ideas impossible. David Green changed his name to David Ben Gurion and became the first prime minister of Israel. His wife didn’t leave him, but she never once took part in any public functions with him. She remained a still believing, if passive, anarchist.
When Leah returned to London at the end of 1935 she helped raise money for the German sailors who organised an anti-Nazi resistance group in the 1930s. She also did tremendous work for the Spanish anarchist movement when the civil war broke out.
From 1939, Leah was a member of a working group of immigrant anarchist women in Holborn. How, with the confusion of tongues - broken English, Yiddish, Polish, French, Catalan, Spanish, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot - they understood each other was a mystery to many. But they managed.
Leah had to give up work when her eyesight went after an operation. She was completely blind in one eye thereafter and increasingly so in the other. She used her free time to help the movement she had given her life to. In the 1960s she smuggled arms into Spain for the fighters who had continued to resist the Franco regime since 1939. The Catalans, who are prone to giving nicknames, dubbed her "la yaya Makhnowista" (the Makhnovist granny).
Her last years were sad. Not only were all her family and her early friends dead, there was nobody left with whom she could talk in her own language. But she never gave up. She still supported anarchist meetings and always attended the annual London Anarchist Book Fair when her health permitted.
The anarchist movement has been built by workers like Leah. It is right that we do not forget their contribution.
Source: Albert Meltzer
"Women of all classes, races, and life circumstances have been on the receiving end of domination too long to want to exchange one set of masters for another." Carol Ehrlich
Anarchism is the idea that no one is more qualified than what you are to determine your own life and that you should have self/personal determination. It is the belief that power structures are oppressive and that only with the abolition of power will we be free. There is no end goal as there will always be power dynamics in our lives that need to be addressed and abolished in order to arrive at a society that is coercion free, community based and operating on the principles of direct democracy. Anarcha-feminism is the application of these anarchist policies to the Black Feminist theory of intersectionality.
Intersectionality is the idea that all of our individual oppressions (i.e. class, gender, race, sexuality, (dis)/ability) intersect and reinforce one another in our oppression, for example, a working class woman is oppressed in this society but a black working class woman is oppressed even further. Intersectionality is not meant to be used as an excuse to enter into the “Oppression Olympics”, rather it is meant to be used as a lens through which we can examine the different kinds of oppression and to understand that each individual oppression does not stand alone; it needs the support of other oppressions or oppressive structures in order to survive.
It is useful to consider our current (white-supremacist, capitalist, disablist, hetero-patriarchal) society to be a ball of yarn and the individual strands of thread to be capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism etc. These pieces of thread, or oppressive structures, do not exist on their own to create the ball of yarn and by recognising this fact and by further identifying where and how they intersect we are provided with a greater understanding of power and how to destroy it.
Feminism in its most basic form must be anti-Capitalist. In examining and in fighting against the patriarchal gender roles that are assigned to us as women it is important to ask where did these roles come from and whose purpose do they serve? Gender is the capital division of labour; it is a social construct, it is not based on anatomical sex (as anatomical sex and gender do not always match up), it is based on oppression. Creating the patriarchal belief that men are meant to biologically dominate over women allowed for the belief that the upper-classes or social elites are meant to dominate over the rest of us.
Certain jobs facilitated these patriarchal gender roles; men’s work was outside of the house and was typically waged, whereas women’s work, (housework, care work etc.) was not considered work and therefore was not waged. Rather it was a duty of all women to do all the cooking, cleaning, to reproduce and raise children. Reproductive labour is necessary for a capitalist society, keeping it unwaged is necessary for the continuation of its existence. Capital cannot afford for reproductive labour to be waged but fighting for waged reproductive labour is not a path to liberation, fighting against our assigned gender roles and against the power structures that exist within the working class is, however, a path to liberation.
Ultimately, class is a feminist issue. Women are disproportionately poorer than men, with non-white women being even poorer again. Single mothers are also no strangers to the devastating effects of capitalism. On average, across the globe, women still make less than men, including those who do the exact same job as their male counterparts. Not to mention that money is power and those who are in power are typically male.
Anarchism is against unjust authority and feminism considers the nuclear family to be the basis for all authoritarian systems; the father controls his wife/partner and children, the boss controls the father, the government controls the boss. Children are brought up knowing their place and not to question that place.
The state is an authoritarian system; it is an exploitative, oppressive, patriarchal and male dominated institution. The state, in whatever form, is founded upon slavery, violence, lies, treachery and deceit – and all these things must be used in order to maintain it. Quite plainly, the state is what it is; the defender of old privilege/creator of new privilege and a means to exploit the masses. It must also create certain social artificial antagonisms in order to justify its own existence. A creation of a new state will require a new privileged group of people, or class, whose function is to maintain its rulership.
We cannot ‘elect’ the revolution: as Kropotkin put it, "the state, having been the force to which the minorities resorted for establishing and organising their power over the masses cannot be the force which will serve to destroy those privileges".
The revolution must be truly liberating, this can only be done through bottom-up, non-hierarchical revolutionary organisations. Female participation in the same old rotten institutions that currently exist will not eradicate sexism, it will only ensure further oppression and domination. The anarcha-feminist movement does not want to emulate the current patriarchal power structures, rather, we want to destroy them.
It seems apparent that feminism must be anarchist; feminism by nature wants to dismantle the power structure of the patriarchy, but as we have already established, these oppressive power structures do not stand alone. Only with the abolition of power can we be free, therefore we cannot pick and choose which power structures we like and which ones we don’t like as they all work together to reinforce one another; one cannot go on its own, they all must go together.
Author: Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird is an anarchist writer from Ireland
Since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and the international public’s response to it, you’d think America has suddenly become a hive of racists and fascists. This is not to suggest that Trump’s presidential campaign and subsequent victory hasn’t emboldened the far-right and white supremacists in the States: we’ve seen white nationalists attempt to intimidate Black Lives Matter protesters at Trump rallies; a sharp rise in armed anti-Muslim protests by right-wing extremists in places like Arizona, Atlanta, and elsewhere across America; and an anti-fascist protester shot and in critical condition by a Trump supporter at an alt-right Milo Yiannopoulos event on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. While we are correct to respond and respond fiercely to this wave of reaction, we need to be careful not to get swept up in the tide of liberal discourse that would have you think that Donald Trump is the Devil and if he is defeated then the people will be free! It goes without saying, Donald Trump is a vile, racist, misogynist, shit-stain and an authoritarian: but racism and white supremacy in America is nothing new - when Trump falls, who will replace him?
The United States was literally built on the savage onslaught and pillaging of its indigenous people and on the backs of black slavery. The United States has a shameful legacy of public lynchings, racial segregation, and criminalisation of black people and non-black people of colour - and neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton did or could do anything to challenge the structurally racist foundations on which the USA was built, and continues to sustain itself. Institutional racism from the top down begins with racist legislation, such as the infamous Jim Crow Laws enforced up until 1965, and is enacted sharply at the bottom with attacks on black, Brown, Jewish and Muslim communities, such as the horrific Charleston church shooting by white supremacist Dylan Roof. In a sobering documentary, ‘13th’ the mass incarceration of black people in America is considered the modern day slavery, and demonstrates how since its abolition a clause known as The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. This conveniently coincided with the State’s campaign to criminalise and prosecute black people in huge numbers, making them a legitimate and expendable source of free labour. Racism and the prison industrial complex continues to uphold capitalist production and represent the interest of the State.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in the States are an ultra-violent white supremacist organisation that spans 150 years (established first in 1865) whose membership is about 30,000 strong. They are one of the only far-right extremist groups who have a collective knowledge and history of organising that has been passed on from generation to generation. They've never been smashed the way most other far-right and fascist groups have. We need to understand this in the context of the legacy of racism, colonialism and imperialism that the United States is built upon and stop this sudden panic as if things were getting better until Trump came along.
Racism and colonialism is sewn into the very fabric of the “Red, White and Blue”, and we need to look beyond the more explicit manifestations of white supremacy and nationalism in order to defeat them. It’s easy to destroy the Devil if it wears its horns so gaudily: but if it’s hidden behind a pearl necklace, a rehearsed smile, and speaks of feminism while simultaneously supporting a war which kills hundreds and thousands of brown women in the Middle East, the Devil will continue to walk among us. Hilary Clinton, the 'lesser of two evils' candidate supported the 1994 Crime Bill by her husband and then President, Bill Clinton, which saw extraordinarily harsh sentences for low-level crime, targeting predominantly black people and destroying thousands of working class ethnic minority families. Hilary Clinton would not have been the answer to America’s problems. Hilary Clinton would not have stopped the mass murder of working class black people at the hands of police. Barack Obama did not stop the mass detention and deportation of undocumented migrants under his administration (in fact, Obama deported more immigrants than any other US President!).
Trump and his supporters are not the cause of the problem, but a sharp reactionary symptom of liberalism and capitalism in crisis.
This isn’t to say that we should ignore the swell of fascist and far-right support Trump has fostered: there is a reason over 800 polling stations in the Southern states were closed and people were being intimidated outside polling stations by Trump supporters. There has to be a militant and organised working class movement in the States to resist this. For example, Black Lives Matter, American Antifa groups, and Standing Rock protesters are doing incredible and inspirational things. Former Republican working class communities are now mass organising in their workplaces and neighbourhoods because they’ve seen that the elite do not represent their class interests. But there needs to be a joined up resistance: not just in the States but internationally.
As revolutionaries we need to build international working class solidarity and resistance to this onslaught by the reactionary elite. We need to move beyond parliamentary tactics because they're defunct. We need to stop resorting to single issue struggles where we fight simply for equality. I don't want to win equal rights to that of my white, male counterpart because I don't think what he has is good enough! We need to fight for class emancipation and real liberation. We need to stop using identity politics and the language of privilege as sticks to beat each other with, and the Left needs to challenge the sexism, racism and academic elitism that exists within it. We don't need allies - we need comrades. When Trump falls and we’re asked, who will replace him? Let’s fight so the answer is us.
Author: Rosa Soros is a writer, agitator and revolutionary communist