A letter from prison by Toby Shone (UK)

Act for free received by email 18.12.21
I didn’t know I was Harry Houdini
Today I was taken from the cells of G-wing, Bristol prison to the City Hospital under a security escort. This was to detect any reoccurrence of cancer in my abdomen and pelvis. In the reception area of the prison, I had the usual strip search, and I was forced to change out of my own clothes into prison-issue clothes.
This offended my dignity as even when I was being held in Wandsworth prison in London under “antiterrorist” conditions I could at least go to the hospital in my own clothes. Whilst I was waiting for the screws to finish the paperwork, I got a glance of my cover sheet at my file – “escape list” marked in red. I was shackled to a screw with an escort and another two and I was driven by four screws in an unmarked van to the radiology unit. Along the way and back, of course, I was a witness to the pathetic, belittling ,racist, misogynistic “chats” of the screws who consider themselves experts of all aspects of life. At the radiology unit there were discussions between the medical staff and screws with some referral to their superiors, as, without any foresight on the screws part, they hadn’t realised that I couldn’t be shackled inside the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. Despite the MIR machine being within a sealed room with a single door, I was forced to wear a pair of plastic zip tight cuffs which were tightened so tight they cut into my wrists.

Due to my loud protests and demands for them to be removed, the screws cut them off with difficulty and pain and placed a second pair almost no less tight on my hands. I was then bound like so inside the MRI in considerable pain and discomfort and in no point in time did the medical staff ask if I was ok or raise any issue of me being treated like this while being told to “be calm” by the screw who had put these cuffs on me and who had remained inside the procedure room. If you have ever been inside an MRI you will know that you are already confined inside an impossibly narrow tiny tube wrapped up in sensitive equipment whilst a torus of magnets whirls around you at deafening volume.
Hardly an easy place to escape from at the best of times. To add an insult to this injury the MRI technician gave the “panic button” which is a kind of pad the patient squeezes to indicate that there is an emergency, not to me who was undergoing the test, but to the disgusting screw who had remained into the room to observe me. One of the screws waited outside the room and one other, for unknown reasons, was asked by the technician to attend INSIDE the adjacent imaging room where the scans were being processed and the technician acted. This final fact is the most angering since these screws are not even medical staff nor technicians but merely
lock and unlock doors, shout and abuse the imprisoned every day. I am not writing this as a “victim of oppression” nor to “establish my
rights”. I write this to denounce the situation and to explain to others what to expect and especially for all the other prisoners who confront cancer.
It is this civilization that makes us all sick. Strength to all those
prisoners who have dreams of freedom in their hearts!
Toby Shone
HMP Bristol