Full Article: A Story For Prisoners Justice Day

An excerpt of this story was originally published in our newsletter Over the Wall, Issue 2 (Fall 2014).

So today, Prisoners’ Justice Day 2014, I think back to the first Prisoners’ Justice Day I ever participated in, in 1980, and can’t help but think of the old saying: “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” I like this saying because it is a simplification of a complicated truth.

I want to tell you a little story. I spent some months in the maximum security unit of Ontario’s federal prison for women, Grand Valley Institution for Women. We lived in groups of 5, in pods which were completely self-contained units we could not leave except for very short periods of time. During that time, I had a job cleaning a room outside our pod, but could never do it because apparently there was never enough staff to escort me to this room just down the hall. So I volunteered to clean our pod everyday since there was no one else to do it at that time. One day I was cleaning, and a large heavy set woman, parked herself on a nearby chair and started telling me what to do. “Don’t sweep so close to my cell, I don’t want dirt going in under the door, don’t use so much detergent, can’t you go faster.”

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Full Article: Address to Market Square

An excerpt of this statement was originally published in our newsletter Over the Wall, Issue 2 (Fall 2014). You can also listen to the original audio recording here.

It’s safe to assume that other people have given a lengthy and detailed account account about what Prisoner Justice Day is and how and why it’s observed. It has been forty years since the untimely death of an inmate due to systemic negligence resulted in other prisoners taking action. But even after four decades it is uncertain that much has changed and we remain the the wildernesses outside of mainstream society. The high profile death of Ashley Smith as corrections officers watched her die under orders not to intercede shows that it is not a simple matter of making sure that emergency call buttons function properly or that policy and procedure exist to ensure fair treatment and a minimum of violence used against the incarcerated population.

What Ashley’s death shows us is that it is attitude and perception that must change.

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September 28th: Prisoner Letter-Writing

Prisoner Letter Writing Afternoon
Sunday September 28th, 1pm – 3pm
AKA Autonomous Social Centre, the red and black house at the corner of Queen and Wellington (wheelchair accessible).

Have you ever written a letter to a prisoner?

Prison is all about isolation and segregation, and the state does not want non-prisoners to connect with people inside its institutions. Letter-writing can be a great way to make a new friend, learn about the prison system and build connections between incarcerated folks and those outside.

Stamps, paper, envelopes, coffee and snacks will be provided. We can also help you brainstorm ways to get a penpal if you don’t have one already. Childcare is available on-site on request, contact epic [at] riseup [dot] net. AKA is a wheelchair- accessible space.

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October 17th: Newsletter Launch and Punk Show!

EPIC Newsletter Launch and Punk Show
Feat The Dead Sparrows, Police Funeral & Crazy Bomber
Friday, October 17th, 7:00pm – 11:00pm
Sleepless Goat Cafe, 91 Princess Street
All Ages/Pay What You Can

Over The Wall is a print newsletter based in Kingston about struggles going on inside or around Ontario prisons. The goal of the project is to share information about what’s going on inside prison walls with supporters and potential supporters on the outside. Our first issue was launched in April 2014 and focused on the prisoner strikes across the country against the pay cuts in federal prisons.

We are pleased to announce the release of a second issue which will feature report-backs, statements and analysis from this year’s Prisoners Justice Day. The official launch will take place on Friday, October 17th at the Sleepless Goat from 7pm-11pm and will feature three political punk bands from across the region.

More info about the bands:

The Dead Sparrows (Trenton) – http://thedeadsparrows.bandcamp.com
Police Funeral (Ottawa) – http://policefuneral.bandcamp.com
Crazy Bomber (Peterborough) – http://crazybomber.bandcamp.com

epicpunk

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September 12th: Prison Town

Check out this event organized by OPIRG Kingston!!!

Prison Town: An Introduction to the Prison-Industrial Complex in Kingston
Friday, September 12th at 3pm
Room 102, Theological Hall, Queen’s University
With five federal institutions in the area and more than 2000 prisoners, Kingston is the prison capital of Canada. Join us for an introduction to the prison industrial complex and its history and function within Kingston and Canada, and the politics of prison abolition.

This event is part of OPIRG’s 2014 Alternative Frosh events
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/835342256489482

altfrosh

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PJD 2014 Audio

Thanks to everyone who contributed to and participated in marking this year’s Prisoners Justice Day in Kingston. To listen to the full CFRC 101.9fm broadcast, you can access the archives here. Here is a rundown of what is available:

August 10, 2014
1100-1200h: History of PJD, Biography of Chester Crosley, Stephen Reid Interview
1200-1300h: Memorial Segment, Kate Johnson Interview
1300-1400h: Chris Brown Interview, End Immigration Detention Network
1400-1500h: EIDN cont’d, Kingston Rally Footage and Interviews
1500h-1800h: Messages and Music Requests

Also you can access the following contributions from Frontenac and Collins Bay institutions, recorded over the phone:

History of Prisoners Justice Day by John Schaefler, Frontenac Institution
Frontenac Inmate Committee Statement
“Prisoners Justice Day” by Jarrod Shook, Collins Bay Institution
EPIC Interview with Jarrod Shook

CFRC PJD 2014

 

Posted in CFRC, Collins Bay, Frontenac Institution, General, Jarrod Shook, Kingston Pen, Local Prisoners, PJD | Leave a comment

August 31st: Prisoner Letter-Writing

EPIC Presents a Prisoner Letter Writing Afternoon
Sunday August 31st, 1 pm – 4 pm
AKA Autonomous Social Centre, the red and black house at the corner of Queen and Wellington (wheelchair accessible).

Have you ever written a letter to a prisoner?

Prison is all about isolation and segregation, and the state does not want non-prisoners to connect with people inside its institutions. Letter-writing can be a great way to make a new friend, learn about the prison system and build connections between incarcerated folks and those outside.

Stamps, paper, envelopes, coffee and snacks will be provided. We can also help you brainstorm ways to get a penpal if you don’t have one already. Childcare is available on-site on request, contact epic [at] riseup [dot] net. AKA is a wheelchair- accessible space.

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July 27th: Prisoner Letter-Writing

EPIC Presents a Prisoner Letter Writing Afternoon
Sunday July 27th, 1 pm – 4 pm
AKA Autonomous Social Centre, the red and black house at the corner of Queen and Wellington (wheelchair accessible).

Have you ever written a letter to a prisoner?

Prison is all about isolation and segregation, and the state does not want non-prisoners to connect with people inside its institutions. Letter-writing can be a great way to make a new friend, learn about the prison system and build connections between incarcerated folks and those outside.

Stamps, paper, envelopes, coffee and snacks will be provided. We can also help you brainstorm ways to get a penpal if you don’t have one already. Childcare is available on-site on request, contact e...@riseup.net. AKA is a wheelchair- accessible space.

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Prisoners Justice Day 2014

Prisoners Justice Day Rally and Vigil
August 10, 2014 at 11:00am
Market Square (north side on Brock St)

August 10th is a day set aside to remember all people who have died unnatural deaths inside Canadian prisons. Prisoners refuse to eat or work in a show of solidarity with each other and with those who have died behind prison bars.

This year we are co-organizing a rally and vigil in Market Square at 11:00AM. Join us to remember those who have died in prison and to demand justice for all those still in captivity.

pjd

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Analysis of PJD Documents

New documents released by the Information Transparency Project give readers a glimpse into the preparations made by the Correctional Service Canada for an attempted construction shutdown at Collins Bay Institution for Prisoners Justice Day on August 10, 2012. The heavily-redacted 225 pages of briefings, reports, and email communications give a (very partial) play-by-play of the co-ordinated effort to brace for ‘anarchist protests’ at prisons across Ontario and Quebec.

We have done an initial reading and here are some highlights:

  • Led by the Assistant Director of Operations at Ontario Regional Headquarters, a team of CSC managers checked the EPIC website daily and engaged in regular meetings with communications specialists, high level security analysts, and various police agencies in the lead-up to August 10th.
  • Separate contingency plans were reviewed and put in place for Collins Bay, Frontenac, Millhaven, Bath and Grand Valley Institutions, where possible protests were anticipated.
  • Contractors were advised of the shutdown threat and forced to decide on their own whether or not to work, because CSC didn’t want to be billed.
  • Staff at Collins Bay Institution were told to park elsewhere.
  • Official briefings were prepared for both the Regional Deputy Commissioner and Minister of Public Safety.
  • For the day of, CSC rented concrete barriers for crowd control, prepared letters requesting arrests of individuals trespassing on institutional property, provided a command centre for a massive police mobilization at Giant Tiger including the O.P.P.’s Provincial Liaison Team (the legacy organization of the Aboriginal Relations Team), and pre-emptively arrested one individual on parole for suspected ties to EPIC.

The Access to Information request also captured a few documents of interest regarding PJD preparations inside prisons. For example:

  • Of approximately 500 prisoners at Collins Bay, only 3 prisoners worked on August 10th, and they were all canteen workers; our understanding is that the canteen is usually allowed to open during prisoner strikes because of the vital services it provides to the population.
  • We can also observe a lengthy back-and-forth between headquarters and prisons about the changing policy towards PJD clothing, which has a long tradition in Ontario. The designs developed by the Collins Bay Inmate Committee prompted a discussion about whether they would be accepted and Scott Edwards, Director Operations at Regional Headquarters, explains that “t-shirts, caps, etc… for Prisoners Justice Day are NOT being supported this year … In essence we are out of the PJD business.” Inmates at Joyceville Institution were recently denied a class-action lawsuit on this matter.
  • Documents show officials at various institutions intercepting communications between inmate committees trying to build support for legal action and contemplating whether to allow the mail through or not.
  • A letter from CSC Commissioner Don Head to Inmate Committee lawyer Todd Sloan denies that formally-planned PJD activites were being obstructed, while notes from a meeting between an inmate committee and representatives of the warden clearly state that “nothing formal or sanctioned by management could be offered during the day … possibly something could be arranged in the evening.”

 

Posted in Collins Bay, Construction, PJD, Repression, research | Leave a comment