Oct. 26 2020 

Globe and Mail – Justin Piché and Sarah Speight
Build communities, not cages: Jails are death traps, no matter how new

Both authors are outspoken in opposition to prisons in general but the thought of a new prison in Thunder Bay which one G&M reporter termed “a death trap” leads to the insistence that all prisons in fact fulfill that description:  “The 2019 Auditor General of Ontario’s Report on “correctional” services found that 117 lives have been lost in the province’s sites of confinement within the past five years. While the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the province’s prison officers, claims such tragedies are just another symptom of what it calls a “crisis in corrections” – one that can only be resolved through measures such as building more infrastructure – the history of imprisonment should lead us to different conclusions. This crisis will be permanent so long as confinement exists. More imprisonment isn’t better. And it’s the very concept of human caging that is entering obsolescence, not just the buildings.”

Ryerson – Social Justice Week

10th Annual Ryerson Social Justice Week    Beyond Walls, Beyond Borders

2020 marks Social Justice Week’s 10th anniversary.  Since its inception in 2011, SJW has brought together Ryerson students, staff and faculty, and the broader community on topics related to social justice and solidarity. This year under the theme  “Beyond Walls, Beyond Borders,” SJW features ten events focussing on justice, critical geography, democracy, political mobilization, labour, global resistance, and feminist activism.

Schedule for the week:

Of note on Oct. 30, 2020:  We Keep Each Other Safe: Living in a World without Police and Prisons

Beyond Pipelines and Prisons: Infrastructures of Abolition

The event signals the start of a full week of discussion and panels on prison issues.

Zoom Platform starting tonight (Monday, Oct. 26) at 6:30PM.   (Event sold out but available on YouTube.   )

“SO EXCITED for El Jones to join us at #SocialJusticeWeek2020 event, ‘We Keep Each Other Safe’. El is a poet, educator & co-founder of the Black Power Hour (radio show developed collectively w/ prisoners) working to fight anti-Black racism in Canada.”

Ottawa Citizen – Farhat Rehman
Rehman: ‘Dehumanizing, counterproductive, unlawful’ – Canada’s correctional system resists all attempts at reform

“I am the mother of a son who is nearing two decades of his life in prison.”  Rehman is voicing double pain – one from having a son in such circumstances to start with and the second from the realization flowing from two decades of his imprisonment that little or nothing has been done to treat the mental illness in the first place.  The struggle is even further exacerbated by the resistance of Correctional authorities to respond to the demand for change and the legal framework requiring it:  “For families like mine, prisoners are not nameless and faceless: They are our loved ones. We are terrified for them, and devastated by recent news that this won’t change any time soon: The Correctional Service of Canada has been stonewalling the very people the federal government appointed to address the problems: the Office of the Correctional Investigator and the advisory panel overseeing Structured Intervention Units (solitary confinement).  As though this situation could get no worse, there is abundant evidence that the CSC response to Covid-19 appears in many cases to be use of the solitary confinement practice already denounced by courts.  A correctional system resistant to correction?    Related article: CBC News – Joel Dryden   Infected Calgary inmates say they have been crammed into disgusting, inhumane solitary confinement – Prisoners say they are sick, frightened and depressed as COVID-19 outbreak spreads through jail   Related article: Globe and Mail – Tom Cardoso  ‘This needs action’: NDP, experts call for solutions to racial bias in federal prison risk assessments    Related article: CBC News – Brooklyn Connolly   The number of Indigenous women in Nova Scotia jails doubled last year

  Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
What Do People In Prison Think About Life Inside?

The link provides some of the more gritty information about life inside a prison as viewed by some 7,000 prisoners over many studies and compiled here by Webster.  Demographic breakdowns, opportunities for personal hygiene, time out of cells, phone calls, family visits, relations with staff, health care, educational opportunity and more – preparation for re-entry at sentence end – get a statistical picture.    Related article: The Marshall Project (US) – Nicole Lewis, Aviva Shen and Anna Flagg   What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars?   More than 8,000 people responded to a first-of-its-kind political survey. Here is what they said.   Related article: N.Y. Times – Patricia Mazzei    Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Fines Before Voting, Appeals Court Rules – In a reversal, a court said Floridians who had completed sentences for felonies must pay fines and fees before voting. The State Constitution was amended in 2018 to restore their rights.   Related article: Gainesville Times (Texas) – Nick Watson   Grant for Hall County accountability courts could be ‘missing piece’ to help people stay out of jail and get back on their feet  (Accountability court is an umbrella name for several types of specialty courts aimed at reducing recidivism by aiming for those at re-entry point but still in prison.)

CBC News – Jordan Press
Federal study details workers hit hardest by tax, benefit system for extra earnings – Workers with modest incomes hit with the highest clawbacks of any income level

The link illustrates why those workers with middle income are prone to ignore chances to earn more:  on average 19 million workers paid $341 in income tax for every additional $1000 earned, a rate of 34.1%.  “Workers with modest incomes, between about $25,000 and $34,000, lost $413 for every $1,000 in extra earnings, the highest clawback of any income level…Just behind them were the top 10 per cent of workers, with incomes over $114,570, who gave up $402 for every $1,000 of additional earnings.”  Clawbacks on additional income seem to prove a disincentive for these numbers based on 2017.   Related article: World Economic Forum (Davos) – Natalie Marchant   50 homeless people in Canada were given over $5,000 each. Here’s what happened next

Nation Talk –
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Calls for the Removal of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki

Given the tensions and sustained conflict between RCMP and First Nations, Bellegarde is calling for the resignation of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on non-confidence and failure to promote public safety, especially that of First Nations People.