In the eleventh of a multi part series Joe C narrates his experience of arrest and time served in Portlaoise Prison where he evolved into an anarchist.
INLA prisoners protest
In 2009, INLA prisoners went on protest against the prison administration, because of bad treatment they were getting. A plan was put in place for their protest action. One morning when the governor came onto the landing as they regularly do, one INLA prisoner had the task of throwing the contents of a piss pot over the governor. The prisoners for the previous week had saved their piss pots and filled them with human waste and stored them in an empty cell.
As the governor went into the screws’ office on the cell the prisoner threw in the contents of the bucket, emptying it over the governor. As this happened the other prisoners threw piss pots of waist all over the place. Human waste was flowing down the stairs like a river. The governor and screws left the landing.
The riot squad was then sent in. The prisoners pulled up planks that were on a bridge that went from one side of the landing to the other. They made their escape from the riot squad by jumping down onto E3. The governor didn't want to extend the matter, bringing the E3 prisoners into the problem.
Negotiations were made between the INLA prisoners and the governor. The INLA prisoners would return to their landing if the jail stopped harassing their prisoners. The governor agreed. Also, during the protest 2 INLA prisoners were dragged off to the seg (segregation, it's basically solitary confinement), so part of the deal was to bring the 2 prisoners back from the seg, and the INLA prisoners agreed they would do their punishment in their own cells instead of in the seg.
When you are in the seg you are kept away from the rest of the prison population, you are segregated. The only people you see are screws. Occasionally you might catch a glimpse of another prisoner. You are locked in a cell 23 hours a day, you get 1 hour of exercise in a yard on your own. A prisoner can be kept in the seg for 53 days at a time.
The INLA prisoners won 3 victories here.
1) They stopped the harassment to themselves by the prison administration
2) they forced the prison administration to bring back 2 prisoners from the seg, This had never happened before.
3) the jail stopped using the seg when putting republican prisoners on punishment.
After the protest all of the INLA prisoners still had to do punishment but they had to do it in their own cells, where they had TV, their books and own property. They would not have had this in the seg. They still got to mix with their comrades when they weren't locked into their cells.
The INLA prisoner protest against the prison administration proves that collective organized action against the administration can work and extra privileges can be won.