Prison video strike broken
PRISONERS at Stanley Prison can look forward to the return of their regular video shows despite the collapse of their strike yesterday.
However the videos will be Categories I and II only and not the Category III shows they enjoyed previously.
The 1,100 prisoners in the maximum-security facility stopped doing all prison work on Monday morning to protest against the cancellation of shows in April.
Although the videos were pornographic, the shows were stopped only because the Government was afraid they infringed copyright, a Correctional Services Department (CSD) spokesman said.
The strike collapsed yesterday lunchtime when the CSD formally warned prisoners that unless they returned to work disciplinary action would be taken.
In addition, 11 prisoners were segregated and some were taken to the prison in Shek Pik, Lantau Island.
'After lunch everyone went back to work,' the CSD spokesman said.
Ocean Shores Video, a leading video distributor, confirmed yesterday that it was prepared to grant the extended copyright clearance that would allow its movies to be shown in prisons.
The CSD spokesman said that if this was true, prisons across the territory, not just Stanley Prison, could start video shows.
'If any institution's management requests to have video programmes shown to their inmates we will not object,' he said.
'But there are certain categories that will not be allowed, such as Category III.' Derek Suen King-yee, a solicitor hired by Stanley inmates for this matter, said that the current CSD practice of taping and replaying movies from the television was not acceptable and this had triggered the protest.
'Some of the prisoners are serving very long sentences, they are spending a very long time in prison. Some of the films they have watched many times,' he said.
'But still they have to sit through them.
'That is why they are annoyed.' Mr Suen said his clients wanted to watch 'recent ones, not the old ones' and accepted that the CSD would not allow category III videos to be shown.
He said he would write to other video distributors to see whether they would also grant the copyright needed for prison shows.
Videos rented from ordinary video shops have only 'non-theatrical' copyright clearance, and cannot be shown to large groups or for commercial purposes.
Mr Suen's clients had not complained of ill-treatment by CSD officers during the strike, although he had not yet seen three of his clients who had been moved.
Prison rules state that all prisoners who are fit must do six to 10 hours of work a day.
The main tasks in Stanley Prison are laundry, printing and workshops jobs, such as making furniture.
The CSD spokesman said the strike had left 'no backlog as such'.