Prisoners’ Justice Day

This Prisoners’ Justice Day the P4W Memorial Collective is in conversation with three trans women, Cedar, Moka Dawkins, and Tami Starlight about prison experience, and trans femme decolonial and abolitionist dreams. Each speaker offers an acute analysis of state violence, including anti-Black racism, policing, anti-Indigenous self-determination, and violence against BIPOC trans and two-spirit folks and women and girls. Find our audio interview with Tami Starlight below, followed by our video interviews with Cedar and Moka Dawkins. A permanent link can be found at www.p4wmemorialcollective.com/pjd. All transcripts are as follows (the captions for Moka Dawkins forthcoming):

Tami Starlight transcript

Cedar transcript

Moka Dawkins transcript

Alongside these interviews, we are circulating a petition to counter the “Appeal to Repeal Bill C-16: A Canadian Women’s Declaration”, a recent initiative that aims to repeal transgender rights in prisons. While we recognize that appealing to the state for protection for prisoners is not a solution to the problem of prisons, we are advocating for harm reduction as part of prison abolition, to protect trans prisoners who are currently doing time. So that they may have the choice to self-identify their gender. For more detailed information about Bill C-16 and the growing transphobia in CSC, check our the longer letter and sign the petition here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-bill-c-16/

In solidarity.

Prisoners’ Justice Day 2020

This PJD the P4W Memorial Collective is in conversation with Cedar, Moka Dawkins, and Tami Starlight about trans femme decolonial and abolitionist dreams. We will be broadcasting messages of care, love, rage, and analyses of the relationship between white supremacy, binary gender, and state violence.

Interviews will be posted on our website at 12am August 10, and will also be online and inside from 6-7pm on 101.9 FM in the Kingston region, and online at CFRC.ca.

Kingston Prison Radio reaching:

Millhaven Institution
Collins Bay Institution
Joyceville Instituion
Bath Institution
Frontenac Institution
Pittsburgh Institution
Quinte Institution
Cape Vincent Correctional Facility (Cape Vincent, NY)

This year on Prisoners’ Justice Day the P4W Memorial Collective is teaming up with EPIC and CFRC Prison Radio for a PJD broadcast, August 10th 4-10pm. P4W Memorial Collective will be featured from 6-7pm, in conversation with prison experienced trans women, covering topics from settler colonialism and Indigenous self-determination, to abolition and harm reduction.

Abolition Coalition Statement on Releasing Federal Prisoners

Don’t Kill, Bill: Advocates Call on Minister Blair to Act on Releasing Federal Prisoners

Don’t Kill, Bill:

Advocates Call on Minister Blair to Act on Releasing Federal Prisoners

14 April 2020 – Two weeks have passed since media outlets reported that Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair asked the heads of Correctional Service Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) to put together a plan to release federal prisoners for consideration. Today, people from across Canada are calling upon Minister Blair to release as many federally incarcerated people as possible in order to fight COVID-19.

Incarcerating people during a pandemic is a threat to public health and community safety. Doctors, public health experts, lawyers, prison scholars and the United Nations have all made clear that release is the best way to prevent spread of COVID-19 both behind and beyond prison walls. Beginning later this morning, tweets and images shared on social media with taglines such as “Don’t Kill, Bill” and “Don’t wash your hands of prisoners” (see above) will be used to draw attention to the dangers of incarceration during this pandemic.

Justin Piché from the Abolition Coalition, a collective of organizations working together to secure the release of prisoners during COVID-19 pandemic, is one of the organizers of Tuesday’s tweet storm. Piché states: “What’s Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Blair’s plan to flatten the curve in federal penitentiaries? If they continue to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass – which is clearly failing in Port-Cartier, Joliette, Grand Valley and Mission institutions – the only depopulation of penitentiaries that’ll occur under their watch will be through hospitalizations and deaths in custody. If they’re in favour of retroactive death penalties, they should be up front with the public. If they want to save lives, they need to get on with the business of safely releasing human beings from prison”.

At this time, a robust health response requires releasing people from locked institutions such as prisons, immigration detention centres, psychiatric facilities and youth facilities to the extent possible. To support community transitions advocates are calling upon Minister Blair to put in place adequate supports including housing, access to medication, and other resources. The lack of action by Minister Blair, CSC, institutional heads, the PBC and the Trudeau government is not only a public health concern, but a human rights issue.

Souheil Benslimane, Coordinator of the Jail Accountability & Information Line and former federal prisoner, points to the role penitentiary staff can play in this crisis: “The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers is opposing the release of prisoners during this pandemic. This is appalling, regressive, and harms the most marginalized members of our communities. The union needs to stop promoting prison policies that injure and kill people. COVID-19 presents them with the opportunity to break the cycle of violence against prisoners. We’re demanding that CSC staff, who could potentially be the main carriers of the virus into penitentiaries, live by their titles and make the correct choice”.

Following the tweet storm, advocates and people across Canada will continue to pressure Minister Blair to do his job. Poet, activist and scholar El Jones states: “Minister Blair says he’s asking prison authorities to consider release. He can and must do more than request consideration. He can, for example, use his authority to examine regulatory adjustments and provide resources to the parole board to undertake more hearings. There’s no death penalty in this country. Pandemic isn’t punishment. We fear if Bill Blair doesn’t act, and act immediately, he’ll have to wash his hands because they’ll have the blood of prisoners on them.

The Abolition Coalition’s message is, unlike Minister Blair’s approach to federal imprisonment during the pandemic, unambiguous – #DontKillBill, #ReleaseSavesLives, #CleanOutPrisons now!”

For more information contact:

Atlantic: El Jones

Poet, journalist and community activist / Department of Social Justice and Community Studies, Saint Mary’s University

el.jones@msvu.ca / (902) 401-6325 (calls only / no texts)

Quebec: Ted Thomas

Member, Anti-carceral Group

anticarceralgroup@riseup.net

Ontario: Justin Piché, Associate Professor – Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa / Member, Criminalization and Punishment Education Project

justin.piche@uottawa.ca / (613) 793-1093

Prairies: Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land

Assistant Professor – Department of Criminology Justice, University of Winnipeg / Member, Bar None

b.dobchuk-land@uwinnipeg.ca / (204) 998-1964

Pacific: Meenakshi Mannoe

Member, Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee

meenakshi.mannoe@gmail.com / (778) 929-4491

New Journal Article

A new journal article was published in the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons this month on our work. Here is an excerpt:

“What does it mean to create a memorial on the grounds of a prison that has already shut down? The Prison for Women (P4W) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada closed its doors in 2000 (CSC, 2000), but the prison building and surrounding grounds have not shed their meaning for many. It is a site with social history and memory, which institutional closure does not erase, especially for those who have direct experiences in P4W as prisoners. As a woman at P4W described, “You may think that everything is alright now that P4W is being shut down, but what did it take to do that?” (Horii, 1994, p. 12). Creating a memorial on the grounds of a prison that has closed means seeking to build healing, awareness, and memory regarding the effects of the prison which once was, and the ongoing effects of prisons still open.”

Here is the journal link to download the pdf and read more: https://uottawa.scholarsportal.info/ottawa/index.php/jpp/article/view/4354