Wednesday, June 18, 2014


A member of the English Defence League who was sent to prison for mortgage fraud (which, for all we know, could've been a trumped charge), says Woodhill prison breeds Muslim radicalization:
When Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League, arrived at Woodhill prison in January 2014 after being sentenced to 18 months in prison for mortgage fraud, he was told he’d be lucky to make it out alive.

I have been writing to Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon – while he’s been in prison to find out what's happened to him, and what he plans to do next.

Woodhill is a maximum security prison. Around 15 per cent of inmates are Muslim (which mirrors national averages – Muslims, who make up 3 per cent of the total population, are overrepresented in British prisons). It also holds what are known as "category A" prisoners – the most serious offenders. This, according to Robinson, includes a number of Islamist extremists, such as those convicted last year of trying to detonate a bomb at an EDL march (data protection law means I'm unable to verify this). Why Robinson – whose crime makes him a category C prisoner – was sent there is not clear. However, it is not unusual for prisoners to be placed in category A prisons if the local prison is full at the time of sentencing. It was not a happy experience.

Robinson claims that Woodhill is a hotbed of Islamic radicalisation. "I had staff telling me that the guards don’t run the prison, Islam does." Radical preachers, he says, are paid £100 for every prisoner they convert. (Although he did not elaborate by whom, why, or how.) These preachers are "enforcing sharia on the wings, preventing non-Muslims from taking showers [with Muslims]". Robinson further claims that a lot of people are converting to Islam inside the prison in order to become part of a Muslim gang, which gives them some protection. "If you convert," he says, "you are automatically protected."
I've thought this might be reason to stop allowing religion in prisons, because it's clear it either doesn't help, or, inmates sentenced for offensive crimes don't deserve hope. As for Robinson, we can't be surprised if this location was deliberate.

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