Aug. 10 is Prison Justice Day. The roots of Prison Justice Day dates back to 1974. It was on that day when prisoner, Eddie Nolan bled to death in the segregation unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Bath, Ont.
On the first anniversary of Eddie’s death prisoners at Millhaven refused to work, went on a one day hunger strike and held a memorial service, even though it would mean a stint in solitary confinement.
This marked the first Prison Justice Day. Today, events are held both in prisons and the community.
It is a day to:
* Ask why aboriginal people are grossly over-represented in the Canadian prison system
* Demand the end of overuse of solitary confinement.
* Learn about the true cost of warehousing people and failing to provide prisoners with meaningful rehabilitation programming.
* Ask why there is a very high rate of women in prison.
Nationally, Canada needs to end its overuse of solitary confinement in its prisons, and have judges review any use of segregation beyond short-term “timeouts” of three days or so, retired Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour stated.
Prison Justice Day is an opportunity to hold the authorities accountable to their responsibilities: to provide the safe integration of offenders into communities as law-abiding citizens. Prison authorities are also responsible in ensuring that offenders are rehabilitated and receive humane treatment.
In 2014 with the release of the Auditor General Report of Yukon Corrections, we learned “the department is not adequately preparing offenders for successful reintegration into the community.” It is the responsibility of the department to develop and provide access to programs and services that lead to rehabilitation, healing and reintegration in the community.
By recognizing Prison Justice Day we demonstrate our support of Yukon Human Rights that all Yukoners, including those incarcerated, have the right to be free of discrimination based on their disability (addiction), criminal record and race.
People in the prison system are vulnerable to poor treatment based on their medical or psychiatric needs, previous involvement with the justice system and can face barriers in accessing culturally relevant programming.
At any given time, there are upwards of 100 inmates at Whitehorse Correctional Centre serving a sentence of less than two years. It is important to remember those incarcerated will be released. They will be a part of our community again, our neighbours, co-workers, family members and friends.
Let’s work together to ensure they are given every opportunity possible to receive the training and healing they need to contribute to our community in a meaningful way.
Blood Ties Four Directions