In Solidarity with Reclaim Holloway
Friday, November 11, 2016
In July, HM Prison Holloway shut its doors. The women who lived there were forced out of London; away from their communities, families and support networks. The 8 acre site is now being prepared for sale. Tomorrow, Saturday 12th November, Sisters Uncut will join Reclaim Holloway to demand that this land is used for the benefit of the people of Holloway and the women who had been imprisoned there.
In March, we showed our anger outside Holloway after the tragic death of Sarah Reed inside its walls. Beaten by the police, denied access to medication, imprisoned for protecting herself from sexual assault – Sarah was the victim of state-sanctioned violence. When she was found dead in her cell on 2nd January, the complicity of our criminal justice system in Sarah’s death was laid bare.
Tomorrow evening we will again reclaim this place of violence, and remind our decision-makers that this valuable site is public land, and must be used for public good.
Six hundred women were moved out of Holloway and into inhumane conditions in prisons outside of London. They were deprived of adequate food and medical care, many completely cut off from support services in London. Loved ones, including children, who cannot afford a trip outside the city, will no longer be able to visit. Two-thirds of imprisoned women are mothers of children under the age of 18.
The site of the prison has an estimated value of over £250 million, and there are plans to develop it into luxury apartments. This is unacceptable. The people of Holloway, and the women who lived there, need this land for themselves. Women and ex-offenders in North East London do not have access to specialist services and support. There are only 27 refuge spaces in Islington borough; survivors need spaces to heal and seek safety from domestic violence. They do not need to be priced out of their own communities by the inevitable rent increases caused by a luxury development.
Our prison system perpetuates violence against women, particularly those who are most vulnerable. 46% of women in prison are survivors of domestic violence, and more than 53% were abused as children. 30% of women in prison self-harm, and 19 in England and Wales have died in prison this year alone. Our black, brown, migrant and working class sisters are imprisoned at disproportionately higher rates, and our transgender sisters are forced into men’s prisons where they must fear for their lives. Prisons are misogynistic, racist, classist and transphobic.
Our government wants to close Britain’s old Victorian prisons and build 9 new “super-prisons” better equipped for an age of mass incarceration. It is now more than ever that we need to seriously think about alternatives to imprisonment. Prisons are violent. Prisons kill. Women and non-binary people need to be supported, not isolated. The site of Holloway prison needs to meet the needs of its community, not destroy it.
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