newsletter (summer 2022)


table of contents

reports from ‘inside’

The Mallard inmate newsletter, Mission (Medium), 1


Stark Raven radio show, 1

action calls

Rights, Regularization, Status for All, 3
Free Maddesyn George, 3
Keep Letty, Andres, Isaias and Claudia Home, 3
grant Adriana and Alberto’s family permanent residence, 3
ban police street checks in BC, 4
Stop the violence against Wet’suwet’en land defenders: RCMP off the land, 4
No to a second extradition of Hassan Diab, 4 (inside “Canada”) (outside “Canada”)
allow workers of all skill levels permanent residency, 4
Free Jack Letts and 43 Canadian Kids, Women and Men in Syria, 4
Write to Canadian diplomat regarding human rights defender Salah Hammouri
Justice for Salah, – العدالة لصلاح , 5

#Free Brittany Martin, 5
clemency to Leonard Peltier, 5
Close Gauntánamo, 5
Ban Weaponized Drones, 5
Art Project by Oso Blanco, 6


Prison Justice Day (Aug 10) videos, 6
BC RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) sued, 6
fund initiatives for Indigenous-run alternatives to prison, 6
US Guilty Of Genocide! Proceedings of the International Tribunal on US Human Rights Abuses Against Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples, 6
“About the People” podcast, 6
BC ending immigration detention arrangement with CBSA, citing human rights, 7
Join the call to other provinces, 6
Theatre in the Pen: New theatre program in Prince George helps inmates find their voice, 7
prisons (not prisoners) routinely break the law, 8
exclusion of federal prisoners from the definition of ‘insured person,’ 8
Protect the Rights of Trans Prisoners, 8
new policy proposals could set [Trans] rights back even more, 8
Alberta Police Misconduct Database, 9
Police fight against defunding, showing their true colours, 9
Police see major budget increases despite majority support for defunding, 9
Police Intervention Program … Targeting Minors and Indigenous Women, 9
Truth Never Mattered at Guantánamo, 9
sudden silencing of Guantanamo’s artists, 9
released Palestinian prisoner Khitam Saafin, 9


#Justice For Jared, 10
Defund [Police], 604 network, 10
hear directly from previously incarcerated people, 10
Abolition Coalition syllabus, 10
three trans women, Cedar, Moka Dawkins, and Tami Starlight about prison, 11
protect the rights and freedoms of gender identity and expression, 11
Indigenous Prison Arts and Education Project, 11–education-program-ipaep.html
Coalition for Justice and Human Rights, Edmonton, 11
Alberta Prison Justice Society, 11
Palestinian Jerusalema dance challenge video, 11
Migrant Farmworkers in Canada Demand Status For All!, 12
Why Canada Must Stop Funding the Philippine Counter-terrorism Campaign, 12
World Without Prisons, 12
Mass Action Against Police Brutality, 13
No Police Military Base in Weelaunee Forest, 13
dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline, 13
Clinic to get your record expunged, 13
Open Arms Lifeguard Sea Rescue, 13
Virtual Palestine tours, 13
Movement of Victims of the Regime (MOVIR), El Salvador, 13
Association of Families of the Detained/Disappeared of Guatemala, 13


Dark Traveller podcast podcast created by incarcerated artists William Head on Stage, 14
Voices Inside and Out podcast, 14
Pandemic Struggles of Prisoners’ Families, 14
Prison Ricochet: Loved Ones of Incarcerated Persons in Canada, 14
Does the Criminal Code apply to federal prisons?, 14
role of prison in genocide and crimes against humanity, 14
“Joe Buffalo” film, 15
“Holy Angels” film, 15
Can you imagine a world without prisons?, 15
Organizing against education’s jailers, 15
Defund, Demilitarize and Abolish Police, Prisons, and All Forms of Carcerality, 15
Imagining Abolition: Beyond Prisons, Wars, and Borders, 15
experiences of Mothers in Nova Scotia provincial prisons, 15
Fatherhood, Interrupted, 16
Dad HERO, 16
Disibility Injustice: Confronting Criminalization in Canada, 16
Anti-Colonial Approach to Abolition, Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, 16
Why Indigenous women account for half of all female inmates, 16
Life in the City of Dirty Water, Clayton Thomas-Müller, 16
Disaster Land Grabs Worldwide and in BC, 16
campaign highlights the systemic barriers facing im/migrant sex workers, 16
Under Siege: Islamophobia & the 9/11 Generation, 17
Disarm, Defund, Dismantle: Police Abolition in Canada, 17
Defund Defined, 17
Reimagining Safety: What happens when we defund the police?, 18
Labour for Defunding Police: Moving our Unions to Action, 18
Disruptive Prisoners: Resistance, Reform, and the New Deal, 18
Abolition Feminisms Vol. 1: Organizing, Survival, and Transformative Practice, 18
Prison-Industrial Complex Goes Beyond Cops and Jails. It’s All Around Us, 19
Social movements and radical legal support organizing, 19
Washington Prison History Project, 19
“Rattling the Bars” podcast, 19
series “The Zo” by incarcerated writer Ivan Kilgore, 19
Sentences Create Us: Crafting a Writer’s Life In Prison, 19
Alliance brought the racial attacks on, and divisions between, Blacks to a halt, 20
poetry in this zine was created by Eric King, 20
Poetry for Political Prisoners, 20
Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers, 20
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, IWW, 20
Revolutionary Prison Writing and Praxis, 21
Joy James: Writings and Works, 21
Visualizing Abolition, 21
“The Long Term” film, 21
Out of Control – A Fifteen Year Battle Against Control Unit Prisons, 21
“The Facility” film, 22
Bucket Jail first performance by a Trinidad prison theatre group in a public setting, 22
Conversations With the Dead by Richard Frankland (Gunditjmara), 22
The Routledge International Handbook of Penal Abolition, 22
Carceral Con: The Deceptive Terrain of Criminal Justice Reform, 22
How DHS’s massive biometrics database will supercharge surveillance and threaten rights, 22
Data-Driven Deportation, 23
More than 98 percent of Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet’s post-2018 awards from the U.S. federal government are from military, intelligence, or law enforcement, 23
Capitalist World-Economy in Crisis: Policing, Pacification, and Legitimacy, 23
Rehearsals for Living, 23
From Data Criminalization to Prison Abolition, 24
Understanding E-Carceration, 24
Deconfiguring the Security State, 24
Abolition. Feminism. Now., 24
See You Soon, girl’s worries when her Mama goes to jail, and the love that bridges the distance, 24
Intimate Partner Violence and Abolitionist Safety Planning, 24
Social Work and Family Policing, 24
Beyond Alternatives: Disability, Madness and Prison Abolition, 25
Alaa Abd el-Fattah, former political prisoner of the Sisi regime in Egypt, 25
“What Happened to Prisoner Justice Day?” podcast (5 episodes), 25
Who To Call Instead Of 911: BC Version, 26

“The state of BC prisons remains unacceptable” – DECARCERATE NOW!

Urgent Public Letter to Prison Officials (below):

Lisa Anderson
Assistant Deputy Minister, BC Corrections
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Anne Kelly
Correctional Service of Canada
Arlene Thygesen – Director
Correctional Service of Canada – Pacific Regional Headquarters

November 19, 2021

Dear ADM Anderson, Commissioner Kelly & Director Thygesen,
We are writing as abolitionists and advocates gravely concerned about the conditions in BC correctional centres and federal institutions, following mass flooding, infrastructure failure, and a recently-announced provincial state of emergency.

As public health and safety emergencies compound – namely the drug poisoning crisis, the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the current state of emergency – we know that our incarcerated kin and comrades are being left behind, once again.

In particular, the Fraser Valley, which contains a startling concentration of correctional centres and institutions, has been ravaged by catastrophic floods, caused by unmitigated resource extraction and colonial occupation of unceded territory. Like industry, prisons scar this land.

Over recent days, a number of people in the community have contacted federal and provincial correctional centres, to request accurate information about the current conditions inside. While prison administrators and officials claim that the institutions are not (currently) in areas subject to evacuation orders, the most-recent state of emergency is going to have ramifications in the administration of prisons. This includes road and highway closures limiting staff and personnel access to the prison, supply chain shortages, inability to access off-site emergency and ongoing healthcare, and the potential for increased security measures (such as site reclassification or lockdowns). The state of BC prisons remains unacceptable.

Provincial state of emergency declared, November 17, 2021

As we have done throughout COVID-19 and before, we continue to demand the decarceration of prisoners – including federally and provincially sentenced prisoners, as well as those held on remand or in immigration detention.
Prison justice means that no one is left behind – not Indigenous people, disabled people, aging people, parents, or anyone else incarcerated. These communities must be reflected in an emergency response.

Thank you,
Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee
Wellness Within: An Organization for Health & Justice
Centre for Access to Information and Justice, University of Winnipeg
Centre for Justice Exchange, Bishop’s University, QC
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project
Prisoner Correspondence Project
KPU Social Justice Centre
Defund 604 Network
Joint Effort
East Coast Prison Justice Society
Defund Fraser Valley

CC: Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator of Canada,
Jay Chalke, BC Ombudsperson,
Marcia Marchenski, Investigations & Standards Office,

newsletter (summer 2020)

click here for resources, calls to action, news, inspiration, and publications by, for, & with prisoners/detainees!
Table of Contents
Prison Justice Day Memorial Aug 10 (6-8pm) Trout Lake, Vancouver (Claire Culhane memorial bench), 1
Joy James (author of Resisting State Violence) talk July 30, 22
Stark Raven radio show Aug 3/Sept 7/Oct 5 (7-8pm), 2
phone number for people incarcerated in Alouette to call, 1
Coming Together Vancouver, 1
Downtown Eastside Response, 2
Who To Call Instead Of 911: BC Version, 25
calls to action
COVID 19 TV Donations, 1
Sign ‘Contain Covid-19, Not People’, 3
Defund the Vancouver Police, 3
Sign to ban police street checks in BC, 3
End policing in Vancouver schools, 3
Ban police use of facial recognition technology, 3
Support demands of Maplehurst (Milton) hunger strikers, 12
Demand status now for migrants, 3
Denounce tracking bracelets on migrants, 4
Sign to bring Abdulrahman home, 4
Support people in Kashmir including free all political prisoners, 4
Call for inquest into death at Mission from covid-19, 4
Lawsuit from Mission against CSC, 4
Lawsuit from Joliette against CSC, 4
Petition for Collins Bay release, 4
Prison Is A Death Sentence events, 5
Hunger strike Lindsay “super jail”, 5
Hunger strike OCDC in ON, 6
Migrant farmworkers, 5
US prisoners and COVID-19, 6
Hunger Strike at NWDC in WA, 6
AZ detainees file lawsuit, 6
Detainees strike against racism and abuses of healthcare, 7
WA farmworkers win strikes, 7
Noise demos at prisons, 8
Solidarity at Bordeaux, 9
Memorial at Bordeaux, 10
How Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project grew to 56 people, 11
Decriminalize Seattle wins 50% cut to police budget, 12
P4W Memorial and art, 12
We Can’t Police the Pandemic dialogue videos, 13
Webinar videos, 14-16
Defunding Police and Prisons
A Wall is Just a Wall: Open Mic
Prison Is A Death Sentence
Indigenous Knowledge & Abolition
Supporting Those Left Inside
Censorship in Prisons webinar video
Black Liberation and Prison Abolition webinar video
Learning Together (while staying apart): Online Events video links
Decarceration from the US to Palestine
Abolition Can’t Wait: An Online Teach-in with #8toAbolition
A Stronger Desire to Live: PEN Prison Writing
Celebrating Juneteenth with Critical Resistance
The Fire This Time: The New Uprising Against Racism and Police Violence
with Marc Lamont Hill and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Abolish ICE is Not Just a Slogan: Immigrant Justice in the Age of
Coronavirus with John Washington and Justin Akers Chacón
Mutual Aid: Building Communities of Care During Crisis and Beyond with Mariame Kaba and more
On the Road with Abolition
Ruthie Wilson Gilmore with Naomi Murakawa
Sick of the System – new Ebook
Never Go Back to Normal by Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity, 17
Pandemic and prison in WA, 18
Defund police in “Canada”, 18-19
How to Support Harm Doers in Being Accountable video, 19
#DefundPolice Toolkit
Cancel Canada Day video with Idle No More, 22
Canada Day What? Fighting Colonialism & Anti-Black Racism, speakers Eriel Tchekwie Deranger (Indigenous Climate Action) and El Jones (Black Power Hour, 22
Uprising for Black Lives video, 20
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, 20
Solutions are with us, 21
Black political prisoners in US, 21
Fire This Time video with Angela Y. Davis, Herman Gray, Gaye Theresa
Johnson, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Josh Kun, 22
Storming migrant detention, 22
Border militarization video, 22
Black Lives Matter in prison, 23-24

Please donate to LINC for prisoners to have TVs

L.I.N.C. (Longterm Inmates Now In The Community) is fundraising for televisions for prisoners – please donate if you can

“Given the present conditions inside prisons, having a television can make a big difference in someone’s life. With all visits, ETA’s/UTA’s/Work Releases and programs suspended, having access to a T.V. means that an individual has more access to accurate information about COVID 19, and relief from the stress that sitting unoccupied in cells causes.” –LINC fundraising letter

Prison Justice Network updates Spring 2020

Click here to read – inside: resources, calls to action, news, and inspiration in these covid19 times by, for, & with prisoners/detainees!
Table Of Contents
calls to action
number for people in Alouette to call, 1
Solidarity and Resource Exchange on the Coast Salish Lands, 1
Downtown Eastside and COVID-19, 1
WISH Drop In Centre, 1
STAND for Prison Justice: Students Taking A New Direction For Prison Justice, 1
Criminalizing the Marginalized can Worsen the Crisis, 2
Demand PM, MP, MLA de-carcerate
Land defenders continue, 3
Demand CBSA release detainees, 3
Stop the spread of racism, 3
Ask PM to add aid for vulnerable, 4
Denounce Colombian massacre, 4
Urge Turkey to release prisoners, 4
Release Palestinian child detainees, 4
Sign letter on prison imperialism, 4
Phone line for prisoners in Barton, 5
Map of covid19 behind bars, 5
Lockdown at FVI, 5 & Mission, 19
BC assessing early release, 6
Okanagan prisoner has covid19, 6
Kent in virtual lockdown, 7
UBCIC demands release, 7
news (continued)
Bowden lockdown, 8
Prince Albert IWC organizing, 8
Burnside prisoner interview, 8
CSC considering early release, 9
Calls for urgent decarceration, 9
Contain covid, not people video, 10
From Burnside to Laval, 10
Former detainee on Laval strike, 11
Canada shuts out refugees, 12
Can’t police way out of pandemic, 12
Detainees’ hunger strike in WA, 13-14
5 demands for federal prisons, 15
Prison strikes, 15
US federal prisons lockdown, 16
Nigeria groups demand release, 16
Iran release prompts analysis, 16
Contain covid19, not people, 17-18

Prison Justice Network newsletter 2020 Winter

Click here for the PJN newsletter 2020 Winter – PDF file (19 pages)

Table Of Contents
Events, page 1
Calls, pages 2-6
News, pp. 7-14
Publications, 14-17
Rest In Power – R.I.P., 18
Inspiration, 18-19
March 15 (Sunday) Surrey (Central City) 2pm March and Rally Against Police Brutality, 1
March 15 (Sunday) Vancouver concert fundraiser for Chilean victims of police violence, 1
March 20 Edmonton “prison-related advocacy” by AB Prison Justice Society, 1
April 4, May 2, June 6 Vancouver prisoner letter writing event Spartacus Books, 1
April 6, May 4, June 8 Stark Raven radio 7-8pm Co-op Radio 100.5 FM, 1
Every Thursday “demand the release of Vaughn Prisoners into General Population!”, 1
Aug 21-Sep 9 organize to promote prisoners’ human rights, 2
write city council to stop facial recognition surveillance, 2
support land defenders, 3
prisoners’ free phone access, 3
justice for Kyaw Din, 3
support Santina Rao, 4
stop deportation of Celina Urbanowicz, 4
free Yasser Albaz, 4
solidarity with Haiti, 4
write Ramsey Orta, 4
support Dawna Brown, 5
intl solidarity with women and trans people against carceral system, 5
release jailed survivors of police torture, 5
overcome a challenge lately?, 6
Joint Effort film clips fundraiser by IWW, 7
future immigration prison in Surrey, 6
water protectors on Mi’kmaq territory, 6
women’s memorial march, 7
Moka Dawkins’ release from prison, 7
Secwepemc land defenders, 8
against Muskrat Falls dam on Inuit lands, 8
prisoners strike Clallam Bay prison in WA, 8
CPP divests from US detention corp.s, 8
onus on govt to justify migrant detention, 9
against new $242m Seattle youth jail, 9
BC CivilLibertiesAssn hires Harsha Walia, 10
Improve parole: ‘Bring Them All Home’, 10
Hong Kong prisoners make facemasks, 10
prisoners strike Santa Rita jail, 11
#CloseRikers turns No New Jails in NYC, 12
N. Carolina prisoners win better care, 12
Alabama prisoners against retaliations, 13
Florida: Juneteenth, lock-down GEO, 13
Mississippi: Freedom Letters, conf., 14
“community alternative to drug war”, 14
new migrant detention centre in Laval, 14
“Immigration Detention…Reality Check”, 14
Mexico “integrates” migrants, maquilas, 14
“Lessons from Prison” by Rita Wong, 15
Joint Effort on women in prisons, 15
Organizing Abolitionist Study in prison, 15
“How to abolish the Hong Kong police”, 16
against violence against women, Chile, 16
Jason Renard Walker’s Prison Journal, 16
“Invisible Chess” movie on J. Goudlock, 16
“Youth Experiences with Incarceration”, 16
Surveillance and Society special issue, 16
Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons, 17
Palestinian political prisoners’ education,17
“Imprisoned Body…Free Soul” student, 17
Palestinian stories behind the numbers, 17
R.I.P. – Rest In Power
Tom Manning, 18
Michele M, 18
Robert Seth Hayes, 18
Lina Ben Mhenni, 18
Jail Release Support Nights, 18-19

Prison Justice Network resources 2019 Spring


prisoner committees/support groups, 3-11
prisoner committees/support groups’ education, 11
prisoner committees/support groups’ publications, 12-16
prisoner letter writing, 16
books and librarians for prisoners, 16-19
de-criminalization, 19-20
alternatives to incarceration/apprehension, 20-22
release, 23-24
re-integration, 24
families/friends of prisoners/detainees, 24-25
justice for survivors/lives lost, 26-28
organizing by other groups, 28-42
radio/podcasts, 43-44
publications (not by prisoners’ committees/support groups) 44-48
resistance camps/caravans, 48
immigrant/migrant/refugee detainees/support groups, 48-52
education (not by prisoners’ committees/support groups), 52-53
food, 53-54
health, 54-56
youth, 57-59
counter-violence, 58-60
legal, 60-64
index, 65-68

(note: below are only geographically closest to us and in “canada” – please open PDF file for full 68-page listing)

Joint Effort
Prison Justice Day Committee Vancouver
WHoS William Head On Stage
Black Prisoners’ Caucus
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee Seattle
Millhaven Lifers Liaison Group
St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre
Walls to Bridges
Out of Bounds
Ad Astra Comix
Cell Count
Certain Days
Class Action News
Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
Penal Press
Women’s Prison Network
Prisoner Letter Writing
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Books 2 Prisoners
Prison Project of Greater Edmonton Library Association
Prison Libraries Committee
Books to Prisoners Ottawa
Open Door Books
Books Beyond Bars
Communities Against Criminalization
Criminal Law and HIV Exposure Ontario Working Group
Centre for Restorative Justice
Circle of Eagles
Justice Program of Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services
Fearless R2W Circle of Support: MB Child Welfare Education and Advocacy
Church Council on Justice and Corrections
Unlocking the Gates
Canadian Families and Corrections Network
Mothers Offering Mutual Support Ottawa
Red Women Rising
Canadian Femicide Observatory
Justice for Mohamed Harkat
Justice for Soleiman
Justice for Victims of Police Killings
Families of Sisters in Spirit Ottawa
It Starts With Us
Vancouver Prison Justice Groups
Letters For The Inside
Rights Not Rescue
Testify Indigenous
No One Is Illegal
Sanctuary Health Sanctuary City
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
Imagine No Kages
Beyond Prison Walls Canada
Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism
Bar None Winnipeg
Initiatives for Just Communities
Animal Liberation Prisoner Support Toronto
Black Lives Matter – Toronto
Book Clubs For Inmates
Bridges Not Borders
Campaign for the Abolition of Solitary Confinement
Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture
Criminal Justice Reform of Federation of Black Canadians
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran
No Pride In Policing Coalition
Write On!
End the Prison Industrial Complex
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project Ottawa
Prisoners United
Canadian Council for Refugees
Rap Battles 4 Social Justice
Solidarité sans frontières
East Coast Prison Justice Society
Stark Raven
Prison Radio
Black Power Hour
What Happened to Prisoner Justice Day?
PUBLICATIONS (not by prisoners’ committees/support groups)
Police and Criminalization in Volcano
Voices: Indigenous Women on the Front Lines Speak
Electromagnetic Print
Justice Behind the Walls
Brief History of Prisons and Resistance
Centre for Justice Exchange
First Light newsletter
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
End Immigration Detention Network
NorthWest Detention Center Resistance
Pacific County Immigrant Support
Stop the Laval migrant prison
EDUCATION (not by prisoners’ committees/support groups)
Education Not Incarceration
Literal Change
Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad
BC College of Physicians and Surgeons must address ethical issues surrounding solitary confinement
Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education
Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System
Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users
Canoe Journey Herbalists
Disability Rights Washington
Urban Indian Health Institute
Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault
PASAN Prisoner HIV/AIDS Support Action Network
Caring for Social Justice Collective
Trans Lifeline
Criminal Justice work of Canadian Friends Service Committee
Clearing A Path: A Psychiatric Survivor Anti-Violence Framework
October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality
Third Eye Collective
Access Pro Bono
Community Legal Assistance Society
Indigenous Community Legal Clinic
Legal Services Society/Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC
Pivot Legal Society
Prisoners’ Legal Services
Terminal City Legal Collective
Criminal Justice Section of Canadian Bar Association

Notes for Abolition: Some Facts on Criminal Injustice Systems

Jeff Shantz

Criminal justice systems in settler colonial states like Canada are not institutions of justice as they claim. They are institutions of class rule, domination and control. And they operate on a basis of racialization and social stratification within a context of social class inequality. As an example, the prisoner population in Canada had increased by 7.1 percent over the five-year period up to 2013, with much of this increase coming from marginalized groups such as Aboriginal people and black people (Correctional Investigator Canada, 2013).

We can see this too if we look at incarceration rates for women which increased by 60 percent over the ten-year period between 2003 and 2013, with marginalized Indigenous and black females again being disproportionately represented in the Canadian prison population. The majority of black women are incarcerated for drug offences, including so-called trafficking, which many of them pursued, according to interviews with these prisoners, in an effort to rise above poverty (Correctional Investigator Canada, 2013). Indigenous women are Canada’s fastest growing prison population. The rate has risen by over 100 percent between 2001 and 2016.

Abolitionists emphasize that penal systems (police through prisons) do not dd what they claim they do. They are not institutions of public safety, they do not protect us. We oppose them as institutions of brutality, inequality, and injustice. At the same time we need to point out that the penal system serves a function other than what its propagandists suggest it does.

We can see the falsity of penal system claims by looking at a few essential facts.


Propagandists for penal systems (police, politicians, some criminologists) argue that these systems are about keeping us safe from physical violence. But most crimes in Canada do not involve physical violence or harm. We can look at crime stats over several years:

Crimes Against the Person: 91,033, 23.49% (2013); 87,887,  23.19% (2014); 76,888 23.44% (2015)

But 14% is Common Assault and Uttering Threats. These may not involve any physical harm to the person.

ONLY 0.7% for Homicide and related. And of these many are crimes of passion or singular events that will not be done again by the person responsible. Locking them up is not about keeping us safe.

Most crime involves property offenses, victimless crimes, consumption offenses, etc. These might involve no physical harm and may, in fact, have no victims at all.

Crimes Against Property: 88,664, 22.87% (2013); 85,301, 22.50% (2014); 76,356, 23.28% (2015)

Many criminalized activities involve administration of justice offenses. These are matters of systems maintenance, not ham to individuals or society.

Administration of Justice: 85,554, 22.07% (2013); 84,213, 22.22% (2014); 74,811, 22.81 (2015)

Another 13% of criminalized activity in Canada is made up of drug offenses. And a further 13% involves traffic offenses.

Administration of Justice Offenses

Administration of justice cases involve matters related to case proceedings (such as failure to appear in court, failure to comply with a court order, breach of probation, and unlawfully at large. They) account for more than one fifth of cases completed in adult criminal courts.

In addition to administration of justice cases, theft and impaired driving are the most frequent case in adult courts in Canada.


Most people incarcerated in Canada have not been convicted or sentenced for any offense. In Canada, remand exceeds the sentenced population. In 2015-16, adults in remand made up 60 percent of the population in custody. That year there were 14899 people in remand in Canada compared with 10091 in sentenced custody. The average number of adults in remand in 2015-16 was 35 percent higher than in 2005-06 (Reitano, 2016).

The total number of adults in remand in Canada (those awaiting trial or sentencing) has exceeded the provincial/territorial adult sentenced custody population since 2004/2005.

On a so-called typical day in 2016/2017, adults in remand outnumbered those in sentenced custody by a ratio of 1.5 to 1 in the provinces and territories. The ratio of adults in remand to those in sentenced custody has been increasing since 2013/2014, when it was 1.2 to 1.

In 2016/2017, 8 of 13 jurisdictions had a higher proportion of remanded offenders than those in sentenced custody: Alberta (72%), Ontario (70%), Manitoba (68%), British Columbia (65%), Nova Scotia (60%), Northwest Territories (57%), Yukon (56%) and Nunavut (53%).

The Financial Costs

So, the Canadian state has built a vast infrastructure of containment and control to punish people for acts that involve no physical harm to persons, have no victims, involve personal consumption choices, or restrain people who have not been convicted of anything. Hardly structures of public safety or security.

Yet to contain and control people on this basis, incredible social wealth, resources, and services are diverted.

In 2014-15, expenditures on federal corrections in Canada totaled approximately $2.63 billion. Since 2005-06, expenditures on federal corrections have increased 55.0%, from $1.63 billion to $2.63 billion. This represents an increase of 51.5% in constant dollars.

Provincial/territorial expenditures totaled an additional cost of about $2.21 billion in 2014-15. This represents an increase of 52.7% since 2005-06. In constant dollars, this is an increase of 49.3%.

Penal Institutions as Social Theft

These are extreme expenditures of social resources that represent a diversion of social funding and services away from social provisions for health care, education, housing, social assistance, mental health care, and other positive social services. Social resources used to punish people in the way that the Canadian state deploys represent a social theft away from necessary social services that can actually make society and our communities healthier, safer, and more secure. Without inflicting the brutality, cruelty, and coercion that penal institutions are all about.

Prison Justice Network newsletter 2019 Winter

Mar 27 (1-4pm) Prison Justice symposium KPU Surrey, page 1
until Mar 24 (Tues-Sun) Triangle Trade Surrey Art Gallery, p. 1
April 1, May 6, Jun 3 (7-8pm) Stark Raven co-op radio 100.5fm, p. 1
April 6, May 4, Jun 1 (3-5pm) Prisoner Letter Writing Spartacus Books, p. 1

Sign Justice for Soleiman petition, p. 2
Write to immigrant detainee, p. 3
Sign Detained Migrant Solidarity petition, p. 3
Help launch investigation of prison abuses, pp. 3-4

2018 New Year’s Eve Noise Demo, p. 4
Prison volunteers’ security checks, p. 4
2018 Prison Strike, p. 4

Cell Count health and harm reduction, p. 5
Penal Press, including Out of Bounds, p. 5
Chronicle of prisoner unrest, p. 5
Voices: Indigenous Women on the Front, p. 5
Mandu Ra comics, p. 6
The Opening Statement, p. 6

Joint Effort with women prisoners, p. 6
PASAN health and harm reduction, p. 6
Stop the Laval migrant prison, p. 7
Afronautic Research Lab, p. 7
Black Prisoners’ Caucus, T.E.A.C.H., pp. 7-8
Incarcerated Workers Organizing, p. 7
Human Rights Coalition, p. 8
Planting Justice, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, 8
Prison Lives Matter, p. 8
Survived & Punished, pp. 8-9
“In The Spirit Of Nelson Mandela”, p. 9
People’s Prison Defense Committee, p. 9
Lucasville Amnesty, p. 9
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, p. 10
Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, p. 10
Lifers With Optimistic Progress, p. 10

Prisons Replace Health Care: Foucault at the General Hospital Today

Prisons Replace Health Care: Foucault at the General Hospital Today

Jeff Shantz

Throughout capitalist modernity prisons have always been spaces of class rule and social control. Social theorist Michel Foucault noted in his influential book Madness and Civilization the role of the General Hospital in Paris of containing and medicalizing poor people who would not or could not work for capital. It was largely made up by the criminalization of poor people (vagrants)—the unemployed, vagabonds, petty thieves, beggars, “the insane.”

This served the interests of the emerging class of merchants, landlords, and business people—capital—by removing so-called nuisances and also by providing a vast source of cheap labor. Over time a new category, “the insane” was developed to distinguish those who could not work from those who would not. Segregation emerged to keep “the insane” away from the reserve army of labor who they supposedly disrupted. These were economic reasons, not matters of public safety.

Prisons are still about punishing working class people (for not working for capital or for more openly resisting exploitation) and imposing the rules of the formal market economy. As neoliberalism has cut social services that working class people actually need, like health care, child care, social housing, education, social assistance, etc. the prison-industrial complex (policing through to prisons) have expanded and received more public money.

To keep budgets up, police have expanded into areas they have no place in, like “harm reduction,” and prisons have become substitutes for health care facilities. This is reflected in the disproportionate numbers of prisoners with mental health and drug use issues.

Still Disciplining and Punishing Mental Health and Drug Use Issues

Some basic statistics are telling (even if an undercount). Mental illness rates are about 4 to 7 times more common in prison than in the broader community. According to a report by the John Howard Society, 11 percent of federal offenders in Canada had a mental health diagnosis; 21.3 percent had prescribed psychiatric medication; 14.5 percent of male offenders had a past psychiatric hospitalization (all 2009 numbers).

Additionally, between 24-38 percent of a sample of 1,370 male offenders admitted over a 16 month period required further assessment.

We can see a similar situation when we look at the imprisonment of people with substance use issues. According to Correctional Services Canada, almost 70 per cent of prisoners admitted are assessed as having a substance abuse problem. A 2007 survey of prisoners reported that 17 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women admitted to using intravenous drugs while in federal prisons.

Class and Criminalization

Drug use and mental health issues can be related to unemployment and poverty. Law and order and “tough on crime” policies reinforce the class punishment of poor people. The more that policing occurs in poor communities the more people with mental health and drug use issues will be incarcerated.

Policing is concentrated in poorer neighborhoods and arrest rates are higher in poorer communities. That is because policing is about surveillance, control, and regulation of the working classes. It is also because it costs the system less to target poor people (who often lack secure residences, who have fewer resources to mount a defense, and who are more likely to be convicted—to secure a system outcome).

In Canada in the twenty-first century, prisons maintain the function outlined by Foucault in his analysis of the General Hospital of Paris. Containing and controlling working class people on a basis of medicalization and psychology—related to their labor within the formal market economy.

Further Reading

Foucault, Michel. 1965. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. New York: Random House