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C.O.'s in Walton Gaol, Liverpool.

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C.O.'s in Walton Gaol, Liverpool. [BY MERCURY.] TO THE EDITOR. I Dear Sir.—A word about the C.O. s in walt,onl 'Gaol would perhaps interest you and your •reader. esj>eeially in view of the fact that among them arc a few who, in happier time*, have themselves been for years among the number of the latter. The total number at present is somewhere about ,eN-ent.N-tll sorts and conditions of men. of all ages between twenty-one and forty-two. -and hailing from all parts of the country. Lou- don. Manchester, Nelson. Keighley, Hereford. .North. Wales, and South Wales. ot course! Though East is East, and West is West (tht, twain must e\ er meet) and this sort of meeting of in the various prisons promises well to lerlillt. in a. very valuable contribution of unity of faith and ideals and purpose to the new In- ternationalism w hose impulses seem destined to -drive the fatalism of narrow nationalism and I n¡ (. differences into the limbo of undeve I oped iind imperfect tilings. FENNER BROCKWAY. Uf the seventy, the most wide-ly- k nowp is k-Fann«|r Broekwav—who 's maintaining a manly .and cheery bearing which ir- inspiring. About thirty are LondOlwr" whose case deserves parti- cular mention. They first- readied Walton from .Mountjoy Prison. Dublin, about the middle of .November la<t. Through the miracle-working ;Mjwers of the authorities under the .Military they duly came to discover themselves one a fter another. deemed to be attached to some :\on('mt"J:n<¡lIt Corps in the Ear-tern district. This was a sort of concoction -which was not to their taste, and they "wouldn't han> anY," So they we,re initiated into the mysteries of a Court-Martial and thereby guided to the comforts of English prisons! Alter some time "their was removed to Dublin with the result that it became necessary, in ac- cordance with certain notions, to take them to Dublin too. whenever a fresh observance of the •ioiirt-ma-rtial ceremony was called for in their ■cases. Most of them had been three times thiough it when they first came to Walton. Six or seven weeks later, eleven of them became due for still a.iiotliel- of it. Of t hese jsorne had already served total periods ot eighteen. *>thers of twenty months, others more. They were sentenced this fourth time to another two .years, taken to, and kept in, Mountjoy tor a feu- weeks, and then brought back to Walton. No one seems to know exact ly what all this moving I)f TIIPTII about was for. It has been thought, that it. was due to expectation of or preparation for more Irish trouble. But the special interest -of their case comes from the light it, shows on the operation* of authority and officialism. Thus art1 men treated shunted and shifted like poor driven cattle without warning, and they don't know where till they are there. QUIBBLES OF AUTHORITY. Thus does (British) Justice preserve her honour. It would be illegal to detain men in orison a day beyond the term of sentence. Thar would not do. ".J ustice" mast- be satisfied. For the sake of the little word "deemed and to safeguard the people against illegal imprison- mk nt, heaven ami earth must be moved what- ever incom cni"nee, incconomy and absurdity is "Involved"- It should not l>e thought- ))ecaus? these-eases have beell dealt with at this length that they are essentially exceptiona l. Essen- tially, all eases are alike—details only differ. Let this be remembered with reference to what is to follow as to effects of imprisonment. A few words may now be devoted to the Welsh cases because thc\ come more immediately within the •sphere of interest in this connection. What will bo sai<? specially respecting two or three oc, ,ai( 1) 111 tW() Ill. till.("" generally applied to all men, in prison, at least. all iii(Ill, III 1)1*?Oll it, OUR CONTINGENT. I I ?.. the names ami localities of the men 01 the Principality are Webber (Troedyrhiw). Hales (Riseal. Edmonds (G. C.(.), Arthur Thomas, Edgar Treha-rne I Briton Ferry), Dan Harry, Mansel Grenfell <Go»-seim>n); Chris. Mor- gan (Pontardulais). W. A. Lewis (Ystalytera) llld H. A. j, ii,)r vt-t wltlilii tll(, Pioneer area, but it is hoped ,i shall bo soon. Major (Pontypridd) was dis- charged very recently on the grounds of ill- health. His case is n glaring instance of abuse >f ]x>wer, or stupidity, or perhaps of -difference on t he part of those responsible. He was discharged as unfit for the army from the ?<?-y Iwgjmil1g, and W:h repeatedly afterwards '_kdal'cd to be unfit to stand prison treatment. "Vet he served three sentences amounting to "twenty months almost to the end. before he was discharged. It was simply through his marvel- lous grit and dogged sincerity that he was able to stick it. Pontypridd comrades should proud to welcome him home, as 110 doubt they are. WHAT NEXT? Chris. Morgan (Pontardulais) and W. A. Lewis <Ystalyfera) will have been discharged" for the third tune liefore this appears. Both were among the early eases in South Wales. They have completed their third sentences—Chris, having served twenty-three, and Lewis twenty- two months' imprisonment respectively. What it* to happen to them now? It hns been ob- served that a tew of those recently sentenced to 11 further two years at Dublin were early eases like these. Will they he dealt with similar!v r Do-e, such treatment represent the will of the people? Two years hard labour used to be con- sidered the limit of endurance before the war. Has the war affected it at all? It has not changed men's fitness or ability to endure, but it has resulted in making this time limit consider- ,ably severer than before owing- to the reducing •of rations. This affects hard la hour eases in general, but C.O. cases are going to be subjected to an extension of the former maximum time- limit in addition apparently—if they are left to the mercy and judgment of the inhumanity and law lessness now exercising power over them. This is a matter that deserves most serious attention, not only from friends and sympathisers with C.O. 's. but from all who care for Justice and ''for the observance of regular principles in law. UNBROKEN. Both Chris. and Lewis are a credit io the Cause ii-I th ii-bich they are and to the districts in which they lived. They have been steadfast and true to the faith they have professed. It is but natural that they should not be quite as fit physically as they were before their long experience of prison life—what would be the use of prisons were it otherwise!—but they are as confident and undaunted and hope- ful as ever. There is no need for anxiety con- cerning them. They have learned to draw suc- oour and power from deep and ever deepening spiritual resources, and to live in spite of cruel hardships. Comrades and dear ones and friends -of nil the others, too, may rest assured concern- ing them. Kaeh and every one of them is en- deavouring to he "worthy of the highest confi- dence and resj)e<rt—and the most unremitting activity in all good eatfses. They trust you; Trust them RELAXATION. A word as to HeUixation would not lie out of plaeo. It must not be thought that it has ically altered conditions. It is possible that it may be attempted to justify the extension of the two year's limit on the strength of it. but let it be clearly understood that here are no real "Tollnd for hat. Of the few clauses which are called Concessions," under the new regula- tions. two are absolutely useless, and seem only to have been inserted to swell the number in order to make them appear of enough value to justify the fuss about thenl and the printing of them. These two are the ones providing for the use of private clothes^ and the one which allows •• those entitled to the to pay six- pence a day to the prison authorities to have their ei lis cleaned by another prisoner for two- pence out of it. As to this, it. is enough to say that even it C.O.'s drew "unearned increments or war profits to such an extent as to warrant such extravagance, the snobbishness of the pro- posal would be too obnoxious t-o allow men to think oi it. -k, to the former—well, the vainest coxcomb would have no temptation to strut and chanticleer in his Sunday best- in prison. Very- few. will therefore be likely to make use of these two provisions. There are a few. though, of winch they avail themselves. It would be fool- ish not ro. OIlIP good friends seem to have thought they should have been rejected all, pro- bably because' they did not know the situation exactly. An important thing to be remembered i? that ?he new provisions are optional, and not compulsory. As has been shown, some of them are?emraNy rejected. The extra forty .minutes a day exercise, and talking." and the extra let-tei a month are generally taken advantage of. and many take advantage of that which al- low- the getting of books in from friends out- side. These are alright as far as they go, but they do not go outside prison in any sense. It might be thought that talking, meant talk- ing. but it simply means that twice a day. in- st-e id of once, tor forty minutes or so. each time, the men are allowed to walk around the same old ring, inside the same old walls, in pairs (instead (?l <me by cue)—under l.he.eyeoftile ev(?)-p)es?))r.e\cr-watchfu! officer. It. is nice to offi(,(-i?. It, 1,, n i (,(, t.() alter a year's forcible keeping it stiU. Hutta))\- ing is more than a feeble exercise of this sort. and under such I (}lJditions, Physical comfort and liberty or a quiet retreat, are necessary to t lie enjoyment of a talk and t-hene are wanting. This is really all the "relaxation." The old discipline remains excepting this trifling modifi- cation. It- is true that the "task'" has been ?)i?)tt)y reduce<t. but only en<m?h to allow for tiie reduction of working rime nece?-?.uy for t in3 extra forty minutes' exercise. STILL PRISON. Kxercise being work under prison conditions, I he position remains the same. lalking, and c\er\ thing els" is prohibited as stiictly as Ijeforc the new regulations came into operation, every- w here. apart from exercise, and offenders are still liable and are still sometimes subjected to the cowardly punishment of." bread and water, etc., etc. This, when people are at best, but half-fed. is far more cruel than it sounds to de- cently fed people. The same conditions neces- sary for the enjoyment of talking are nei-essary also lor the enjoyment- of writing and study, so thai the extra letter a month and the right. to get hooks in from outside does not amount to much. Prisoners are allowed letters when they are entitled to thenl according to marks, not when they feel tike writing them. unless they happen to feel so when they are due. Even then what they want most to write is what is most likely to fail to pass the prison censorship. All l"itoi's are censored. Under the new regulations one letter a fortnight- is allowed instead of one letter a month. These words are interpreted strictly and literally, and the fortnight is dated from the date of previous letter, so that- if a- pri- soner fails to apply for his letters in accordance with this interval-order, the whole order is al- tered to commence from the day on which his applic.ition is made, and he to?es the time— -win thcr ii. be a day, a week, or a fortnight, which he has lost in making it" If he loses a fortnight, he loses a letter. This sort- of thing cannot happen, though, except by jfrure neglect or confusion of dates on his part. But the point is that no one bothers to remind him whatevcj the ease is'. ft is rather otherwise; he ha- sometimes a hit oi a. tussle in getting his due. These few facts, though rather advantages than hardships, will hi lp to show how paltry the concessions are. The size of the writing paper, by the way. has been reduced so that the two letters now al- lowed are only a third larger in writing space than the old one. And. of course, the men do not become entitled to any of these "special condit ions." until they have completed a sen- tence, or sentences amounting to twelve months. EIGHTEEN HOURS ALONE. One thing more should be particularly ob- served just, here. Special conditions do not alter the fact that men spend eighteen or more hour" in every twenty-four in isolation in separ- ate cells. It will now be seen that, ''Relaxation" has not at all materially affected conditions. It is but a gliding of the cage. Caged birds do not pine for lack of ornamented cages. Sometimes it is because of improper treatment—insufficient and improper food, etc. sometimes, apparently, solely for lack of liberty. Sometimes for all those reasons. Shelley's skylark poured forth his wondrous ecstacy, free in the boundless blue and Browning's thrush "sang his songs twice over." perched in the open on a leafy bough. C.O.'s, like birds, and all prisoners, are natural- ly affected by imprisonment according to physi- cal constitution and temperament, Some suffer more from insufficiency and unsnitability of diet: some, perhaps, more from lack of freedom—in- tellectual and social intercourse and all more or less for both reasons. All the variety of diet that is allowed is between wbit, is called vege- tarian diet, and that provided for the grosser appetite. Either one or the other. The amount allowed is about- half enough in each case for a person of wea.k appetite. Different constitutions require not only different amount.s of' food, but ( proportions of the same kinds of foods. This is not taken into consideration in prison until a man becomes a hospital case. What is allowed suits some constitutions better than others and enables them to exist more tolerably —not because they get enough, but because the little approximates more closely to the propor- tion of various properties suitable to their cases. This applies to the vegetarian as well as the others. The result is that some lost much more weight than others, solely in consequence of this —others partly. The percentage of lost weight cases is very large-larger' probably than the authorities themselves are aware of, in conse- quence of something that shall be explained. Very few, if any, retain their normal weight. Oases of lost weight very up to twenty-five pounds—possibly more, and very few of them were superfluously fat men. The majority were normally of middle weight, many were light and lean and needed putting on weight. Outside NN-oul(i IK, pitied. Yqung men in the early twenties mostly People would say, Poor fel- low how thin he is getting; he is wasting; there ji sometL'.ng radically wrong with him." Ami there is.—imprisonment and starvation. But inside it is "Carry on"—with the bread and water threat always over him—-until he becomes a hospital case, which lie does his best To because hospital in prison is prison-iso- lation. restriction, etc. As to percentage or cases, tin1 following suggestion may be helpful, particularly with reference to the sadder cases of dcatit.and worse. STANDARD WEIGHT. I Every prisoner is weighed oil entering prison. His weight then taken is the standard with which the results of the subsequent periodical weighings are com pa red. a certain limit is fixed beyond which it is deemed to be unsafe to allow the standard (norma l as it I is thought- probably) to be reduced. (Lost weight eases constitute a. large proportion of hospital casts—it. should l>e observed.) Let is be as- sumed that, dw safe limit is twenty-five pounds and let C.O. cases be considered with re- ference to it. The C.O. enters prison for his first sentence at his normal. If he doesn't lose weight beyond the limit, he is safe." He completes his sentence and is discharged, 10 lbs. below the weight at which he entered. He is court-martialled a second, third, ami. ronrdi time, and even for the fifth time, and the same tiling may happen each time, provided he can continue without collapsing. Anyone with any knowledge ot the medical service 111 prison would not he surprised if men were found to have got to tin extreme breaking point, and collapsed "grinning and bearing jT. But perhaps there is something yet more injurious than this sort of physical starvation and injury; the flouting ot nature in young life. The mind of youth, eager and brimful of energy, is ever active, weaving light fancies, or planning programmes oi some sort or other or. maybe, busy and nh- sorbed in t of imagination or the shaping of Schemes of Progress." In prison. Heaven-inspired thoughts and impulses to service have to fall back into throbbing hearts and souls, like ghosts of stricken angels for want of opportunity for ex- pression and articulation in speech or writing or act. Gradually they accumulate, as it were, and remain haunting, ravaging, wasting the mind's energies in jumbled impotent, useless wanderings. This sort of thing cannot, perhaps, be adequately understood except by the very demons who have devised penal codes and those who have themselves endured a few months in their youths. It a fleets some temperaments more cruelly than others. Both this considera- tion, and the other as to constitution should be borne in mind when the question of absolutists and H.O. worker. tor instance, is discussed. Some, many. o IIndt,I' owing to this biu- many, too. rortunately gain power through the' very agony of it. and learn to believe that We fall to rise: are o tflied to fight better: sleep to wake ITHE" LOST" OFFER. Ncv, depths ot spirit are discovered in their own personalities, and with this discovery comes clearer perception of principles and more and more confirmation of the value they have for humanity. Conscience becomes sovereign in- deed After all comes the lost (?) offer for the re-trial of cases by the local tribunals. Is it likely to be accepted? The offer is in itself an admission that at least mistakes have been made by the tribunals. If by the re-trial ofeases.any decisions should be altered, their fallibility will have been actually proved. If otherwise would the genuineness of the cases be less certain? Do not the cases themselves prove their genuine- ness ? What. use. then, is there for this offer? Away with it! Away with tribunals! They stand utterly condemned. They have forfeited all claim they may ever have had to serious con- sideration. Comrades outside should not think of anything less than unconditional release. It is too late to talk about exemption now. The men in prison may be trusted to stick out for the sake of the young lads coming along. Trust them and go in for the whole thing: A people's International Peace: disarmament all round: Iiit(?i,iiatloji'al ?HIitary 41,,ai-iii?)iii(,iit ill all their murdering machinery. Out of the horror and havoc arises a new promise of Democracy. Russia has seen, and believed, and accepted it, but she cannot, realise it without the help of all the De- mocracies of all the great countries. We have a great responsibility and the greatest oppor- tunity yet offered to the world. Labour, solid and wise and fearless can realise its emancipa- tion. Tt has its own special part to play, and it is the power on which everything else done must depend. It. is to be hoped that Pacifism may be a reality and power at this critical juncture, and in the reconstruction that is before us. Difficul- ties will arise w;hich will require all the wisdom and courage anVl charity we are capable of to overcome them. Yet we have a vision of a new Humanity which im-ite, "Hope to hope, till it creates the thing it contemplates!" Brothers all over the earth. Brothers and sisters. Yon of that- silent company whose speech is only in the unknown deeds of love, the unknown devo- tions, the unknown heroisms—-it is to you we speak! Our heart is against your heart, yon can feel it beat. Soul spea ks to soul through lips whose utterance is a m-ed. "We are the spirits of those piteous ones, the wronged, the oppressed, the robbed, the murdered, and we bid you open your warm heart, your light-lit soul to us! We will touch your eyes and lips with fire. Xo. we will never let you go, till you are | ours and theirs! And yon, too, 0 sufferers, you, too shall stay with us and shall have -comfort. Look, we have suffered, we have agonised, we have longed to hasten the hour of rest. But beyond the darkness there is a light, beyond the turbulence—peace. Courage, and be true to one another. We bid you hope.

——I Honourably Acquitted and…

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