I recently had the pleasure and honour of a 30 minute audience with Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the man in charge of the colonial carceral system, Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety, when they toured Sagatay, a transitional house for aboriginal men in Toronto that also provides five Day Parole beds to CSC. It’s not every day a prison abolitionist agenda forwarding alternatives to incarceration gets heard by the highest colonial representatives while they are standing in a model of healing so different from the traumas of prison.
Here is the letter I left them with: Continue reading
A Funeral Shroud of Secrecy and Callousness
Sixty-five of us died last year in prison. I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating: leaving this world from behind bars may set the soul free, but in another way, you never really get out. Dying in prison means that whatever length your bit is, it gets instantly changed to a Life Sentence.
As a Prison Abolitionist, I’m against the thought of spending the rest of one’s life in a state of oppressive incarceration. I don’t think that shaming and punishing and the notion of retributive justice gets us anywhere as a society. And now the Office of the Correctional Investigator tells us that the Service does it not only to us prisoners, but to our families as well. Continue reading
Originally appearing in NOW magazine – https://nowtoronto.com/news/pride-toronto-has-a-prison-problem/
When A Rainbow Flag Obfuscates Oppression
Black Lives Matter stopped Toronto’s Pride parade this year partly to draw attention to the contentious relationship their community has with the police force. The inclusion of booths and floats with uniformed officers in the parade was one of the more obvious disparities in the long adversarial relationship the black and LGBTQ2S communities have had with police.
But one set of uniformed participants at the parade went unnoticed in the uproar. Their institution’s policies and dictates discriminate against people of colour and queers in a secretive, divisive, and systematic way. Continue reading
THERE ARE LOTS of hoops you have to jump through in order to use injection drugs in prison. Government drug prohibition policy for prisons has made drug use difficult. You need to find a source, and if the guy is smart, he’ll use runners and all of the people concerned will be hard to find in order to protect their business from rats and security. You will pay up to ten times the street value for product that has been stepped on and cut to the point that you’ll barely recognize it. Dealers can be real assholes, especially if they have habits of their own.
What does it mean to have a compassionate mind? At first you might think that answering this question would answer all of humanity’s problems. You might think that if only we were a bit more compassionate, a little more loving and kind to each other, then the suffering of the world would lessen. You might think that instilling compassion into the minds of our young would begin a social program to end wars, feed the hungry, and prevent injustice on earth. One would think that if only we could figure out why we don’t have compassionate enough minds we’d be able to ameliorate some of the suffering we see around us every day. But you’d be wrong. Continue reading
July 18, 2014, Collins Bay Inst. Minimum Unit (Frontenac), Kingston, ON – It is less than a month away from the annual Prisoner’s Justice Day observances in Canadian Prisons and around the world. We were cruelly reminded this morning why it is that we take time to remember our “fallen” comrades and peers. The elderly, terminally ill man, a lifer here on a Parole Revocation who lived down range from me, succumbed to the inevitable and passed away, imprisoned, on his way to see institutional Health Care. Perhaps it is a good time to examine the inhumanity of this event. Continue reading