Strangeways riot led to prison reform, ex-inmate says


originally published by: The BBC
1st April 2010

The riot at Strangeways was a catalyst for prison reform, an ex-inmate said on the 20th anniversary of the uprising. Paul Taylor, who helped to spark the riot on 1 April 1990, said the 25-day struggle persuaded the government to improve conditions for all prisoners.

He claimed inmates resentment at “decades” of brutality turned a planned peaceful sit-in into a full-scale riot. Governor at the time Brendan O’Friel said major improvements had been made in the three years before the riot.

Prisoner David White, 46, died as a result of injuries sustained during the rioting. Prison officer Walter Scott died after suffering a heart attack.

Mr Taylor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It wasn’t so much the physical conditions in which we were forced to live that sparked the confrontation. “It was the brutality of officers towards prisoners over decades that had incited prisoners that day, when they were confronted by staff, to retaliate.”

Mr Taylor said the riot succeeded in changing government policy, and led to prisoners being treated in a more humane and civilised way.

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