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Protesters gather outside prison against expansion and alleged racism

A YORKSHIRE prison was picketed over the weekend by campaigners demanding an end to racism and the dumping of plans to more than double the number of people it incarcerates.

The government is planning to create another 10,000 places in Britain’s prisons, on top of the 80,000 which already exist.

Under its prison estates transformation programme, Full Sutton prison in East Yorkshire will be extended to create a “mega prison” holding 1,440 prisoners, instead of its current capacity of 597.

National organisation Campaign Against Prison Expansion (Cape) and campaign group Sisters Uncut Leeds are opposing the project.

Action is being taken at prisons which are part of the expansion plans.

More than 50 people marched to HMP Full Sutton on Saturday and demonstrated, including residents from the local community who are opposing the expansion.

Campaigners are also protesting against the treatment of two prisoners incarcerated in Full Sutton, Kevan Thakrar and Dwayne Fulgence, who they say have been subjected to racist treatment and violence – allegations which the prison service denies.

Campaigners and the family of Mr Thakrar say that he is kept in solitary confinement and confined to his cell in a special segregation unit for 23 hours a day.

In March, United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer wrote to the government to raise “grave concern at the indefinite and prolonged detention of Mr Thakrar in what appears to be conditions of solitary confinement,” and expressed concern at the “prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement” in special units used throughout the prison system.

He said that the incarceration of Mr Thakrar resulted in “severe pain or suffering amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, or even torture.”

A spokesperson from Sisters Uncut Leeds said: “As we see from the horrific racist attacks experienced by Kev and Dwayne, prisons are not the answer to serious violence in our society – they instead create more violence.

“The planned mega prison at Full Sutton means throwing more money at violence against people from marginalised communities at a time when essential domestic violence services are critically underfunded and austerity has deprived our communities for over a decade.

“The prison estates transformation programme is costing the government obscene amounts of money, yet they continue to refuse to invest in preventing crime from taking place in the first place.

“Affordable housing, education, mental health services, domestic and sexual violence services are the solutions, not more prisons.”

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