Monday, April 6, 2020

Imprisoning the Pandemic in Canada (v1.0)

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Government of Ontario needs to take additional steps to reduce the use and harms of imprisonment at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre during the COVID-19 crisis


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

6 April 2020 (Ottawa / Algonquin Territory) – Over the past few weeks, the Jail Accountability & Information Line (JAIL) has continued to take dozens of calls from people caged at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) seeking support to address human rights issues and information to facilitate their safe re-entry into the community. Souheil Benslimane – Lead Coordinator of the JAIL hotline – states: “It’s clear the situation in Ottawa’s provincial jail has gone from bad to worse. People imprisoned there report deplorable treatment by their jailors. The province needs to act by 1) stopping the flow of people into Ontario jails and prisons, 2) working towards releasing all prisoners held at the Ottawa jail in a safe manner starting with those most vulnerable to COVID-19, 3) meeting the needs of those held and working at OCDC during this pandemic, and 4) ensuring that those who are released are adequately supported and their communities are equipped to welcome them back”.

While the number of people imprisoned at OCDC has reportedly decreased to less than 60 percent of its 585-bed capacity over the past few weeks, owing to the increased use of decarceration measures (such as temporary absences) and diversion measures (such as bail), admissions to the jail continue. Jail depopulation efforts need to be expanded, along with the use of police discretion, the release of people on their own recognizance, as well as investments in restorative and transformative justice. The on-going admission of people into OCDC has the potential to introduce COVID-19 into the jail population, as does the entry and exit of staff at the facility everyday. OPSEU Local 411, which represents workers at OCDC, have recognized this risk and are actively employing pressure tactics – including work stoppages that result in lockdowns which harm prisoners – to demand that Ontario’s Solicitor General enhance screening practices at the site. While better screening is necessary, Justin Piché – Criminology professor at the University of Ottawa – notes: “The best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission behind jail walls is to stop human beings from coming into the jail, while safely releasing prisoners to the extent that is possible now. Where stable housing and other necessities of life aren’t available to those being released, the province needs to use its vast capacity to put in place the resources to meet the needs of criminalized people and enable them to abide by public health measures. Reducing the use of imprisonment and providing re-entry supports is more effective than caging people where public health and community safety are concerned”.

JAIL hotline callers, who have long reported the substandard health care that exists at OCDC, have expressed concerns about contracting COVID-19 at the jail and being placed in quarantine on site. They fear experiencing segregation-like conditions of confinement without access to appropriate medical care. Should people held at OCDC test positive for COVID-19, it’s critical that they be transferred to a hospital or another setting to be able to safely isolate and receive the care required. When people are quarantined in jails as opposed hospitals or other settings where they can receive care, it’s both cruel and enhances their likelihood of death. Compassionate releases need to be prioritized to save lives when people who are confined contract COVID-19 or have existing health conditions that jeopardize their ability to survive the current pandemic.

Over the past two weeks, JAIL hotline callers have reported lockdowns and uneven access to hygiene and cleaning products. Prisoners on some units have what is needed and others not. Some callers report being forced to drink water out of their toilet bowl due to a lockdown and plumbing problems. The cancellation of programming and visitation has further isolated people held at OCDC. Indigenous prisoners, who reported that their human rights were being routinely violated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now reporting the unavailability of essential cultural activities such as smudging and other traditional ceremonies. Tension and uncertainty is building inside the jail. “To ease tensions, the Ministry needs to end lockdowns and improve communication. Right now the prisoners are being told next to nothing”, states Aaron Doyle, Sociology professor at Carleton University. The Ministry should also allow prisoners to strengthen themselves as the risk of COVID-19 looms by replacing the poor-quality food contracted-out to Compass Group with meals prepared by local businesses. Free canteen and adding items such as vitamins, lozenges, and healthy snacks would also help prisoners prepare for the inevitable if depopulation efforts are not expanded. Personal hygiene and cleaning products must also be more readily available to all people imprisoned at OCDC. The Ministry also needs to put in place a phone system that allows calls to landlines, cell phones, and switchboards free of charge so that prisoners can contact their loved ones and community supports during this especially difficult time.

The depopulation and interim reform measures above are reasonable and necessary. If the government fails to act now, not only will people imprisoned and working at the jail be at greater risk, so too will their families and communities.

For media interviews contact:
Souheil Benslimane
Lead Coordinator
Jail Accountability & Information Line 
819-592-6469 / jailhotline@gmail.com

Letter to the FPT Public Safety Ministers: COVID-19 and Imprisonment - Information Request

Dear Federal-Provincial-Territorial Public Safety Ministers,
I hope you and your loved ones are keeping healthy at this time. I am writing to request information from your respective ministries regarding the impact COVID-19 has had on prisoners in your custody, institutional staff, the number of people incarcerated in your carceral institutions, entry and exit procedures, conditions of confinement, as well as information and oversight procedures available to prisoners.

Please have the offices of your deputy ministers responsible for the prisons you oversee provide the information requested below by 2 May 2020.

This information will then be analyzed and included in a report that will be put together by graduate and undergraduate students registered in my directed research course at the University of Ottawa entitled Policing and Imprisoning the COVID-19 Crisis, which will be taught from May 4 to June 12. The report will review common and best practices to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 behind and beyond prison walls. Upon its completion, you will receive a copy of the report, along with the dozens of journalists (cc’d) who have been following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in prisons across Canada over the past few weeks or who have recently reported on incarceration-related issues.

COVID-19 CASES

COVID-19 – Prisoners 
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Number of Negative Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Number of Pending Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Total Number of Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 1 May 2020:

COVID-19 – Staff and Contractors
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Positive Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Number of Negative Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Negative Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Number of Pending Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Pending Tests as of 1 May 2020:

Total Number of Tests as of 1 March 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 15 March 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 1 April 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 15 April 2020:
Total Number of Tests as of 1 May 2020:

POPULATION CHANGES (1 March - 1 May 2020)

Population Count
Number of Prisoners as of 1 March 2020:
Number of Prisoners as of 15 March 2020:
Number of Prisoners as of 1 April 2020:
Number of Prisoners as of 15 April 2020:
Number of Prisoners as of 1 May 2020:

Population Reduction MeasuresBail (provincial/territorial): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Temporary Absences (intermittent sentences – provincial/territorial): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Temporary Absences (medical releases): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Temporary Absences (compassionate releases): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Temporary Absences (other): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Parole / Earned Remission: YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Royal Prerogative of Mercy (federal): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)
Other (please specify): YES / NO (with numbers if applicable and available)

ENTRY AND EXIT PROCEDURES (1 March - 1 May 2020)

Entry Screening (staff and prisoners)
Temperature Check: YES / NO
Medical Assessment by Medical Professional: YES / NO
Other (please specify): YES / NO

Exit Screening (staff and prisoners)
Temperature Check: YES / NO
Medical Assessment by Medical Professional: YES / NO
Other (please specify): YES / NO

CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT (1 March - 1 May 2020)

COVID-19 Related Health Measures
Number of Medical Staff: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Medical Staff Hours: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Number of Mental Health Staff: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Mental Health Staff Hours: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Access to Vitamins and Supplements: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Access to Non-prescription Medication: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Access to Prescription Medication: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED

COVID-19 Related Personal Hygiene Measures
More Soap: YES / NO
More Toilet Paper: YES / NO
Hand Sanitizer: YES / NO
Sanitizer Wipes: YES / NO
PPE for All Prisoners: YES / NO
PPE for Some Prisoners: YES / NO
PPE for All Staff: YES / NO
PPE for Some Staff: YES / NO

COVID-19 Related Cleaning Measures
Laundry: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Cleaning of Common Areas: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Disinfection of Common Areas: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Cleaning of Cells: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Disinfection of Cells: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED

COVID-19 Related Prisoner Movement Restrictions
Number of Lockdowns (suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases):
Number of Lockdowns (work refusals):
Number of Lockdowns (other – please specify):
Number of Isolation / Quarantine Placements (at admisison):
Number of Isolation / Quarantine Placements (post-admisison):

COVID-19 Related Enhancements to Conditions of Confinement
Quantity of Food: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Quality of Food: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Free Canteen: YES / NO
Weekly Canteen Limits: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED
Other (please describe): 

Suspension of In-person Visits
Personal Visits: YES / NO
Legal /Attorney Visits: YES / NO
Religious and Cultural Visits: YES / NO
Programming and Volunteer Visits: YES / NO
Oversight Visits: YES / NO
Other Visits (please specify): YES / NO

Alternatives to In-person VisitsPhone System: CHANGED DUE TO COVID-19 RESPONSE / UNCHANGED
Free Calling for Prisoners: YES / NO
Limited Number of Free Calls for Prisoners: YES / NO
Calling for/paid by Prisoners: YES / NO
Collect Calling for Prisoners: YES / NO
Video-conferencing for All Prisoners: YES / NO
Video-conferencing for Some Prisoners: YES / NO
Call and/or Video-conferencing Time Limits for Prisoners: INCREASED / NO CHANGE / DECREASED

INFORMATION AND OVERSIGHT PROCEDURES (1 March - 1 May 2020)

Written Information Provided to Prisoners
COVID-19 Symptoms: YES / NO
COVID-19 Risks: YES / NO
COVID-19 Treatment: YES / NO
COVID-19 Institutional Protocols: YES / NO
Corrections Legislation: YES / NO
Institutional Services, Policies and Procedures Manual: YES / NO
Standing Orders and Directives: YES / NO
Complaints, Grievances, Request and Oversight Forms: YES / NO

OTHER

Please add any additional information about measures taken by your ministry to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 amongst prisoners and staff in your institutions:
[add comments]

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You may also be interested in a resource I have developed tracking government measures and media coverage as it relates to COVID-19 and imprisonment. If you would like me or my students to conduct related research on your behalf or have any questions feel free to contact me anytime by email at justin.piche@uottawa.ca or by phone at 613-793-1093.

Sincerely,

Justin Piché, PhD

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendocino, and Health Minister Patty Hajdu in support of #HungerStrikeLaval


31 March 2020 – We are writing you to echo the demands of those yearning for justice, safety, and health who are now entering the eighth day of their indefinite hunger strike at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre. We demand that you release all immigration detainees who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their incarceration during this unsettling and precarious time.

In any given year, dozens of lives are lost while in the custody of the Canadian Border Services Agency and Correctional Services Canada. Thousands more have had their lives shattered by imprisonment and have developed life altering mental health and health issues or have existing conditions that have worsened while under your ‘care’.

It is undeniable that putting human beings in cages undermines public health and community safety. Both can be improved through the depopulation of immigration detention spaces and federal penitentiaries to the extent that is possible. Leaving existing federal human caging systems in place in the context of COVID-19 is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous to prisoners, institutional staff, their loved ones and communities. Imprisonment is obsolete, causes significant harm, and we demand a just transition from the prison industrial complex starting now.

Canada’s continued settler-colonialism and genocide – which now sees Indigenous and other racialized populations incarcerated en masse – and all the oppressive systems built to support it must be dismantled. In the short-term, we demand the release of detained migrants and the decarceration of federal prisoners where possible. They are human and should not be made to face injustices and a disproportionate risk of illness and death. No one is disposable.

In these exceptional times when we are collectively responding to a global crisis, many provinces and territories are starting to implement measures to safely depopulate their jails and prisons. The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP), a joint Carleton University and University of Ottawa community initiative, is calling upon the Government of Canada to free the Laval Hunger Strikers and free all migrant detainees. Build communities, not cages.

Sincerely,

Souheil Benslimane
Lead Coordinator,
Jail Accountability & Information Line
819-592-6469 / jailhotline@gmail.com 

Justin Piché, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa
613-793-1093 / justin.piche@uottawa.ca

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Toronto South Detention Centre prisoner tests positive for COVID-19 revealing the urgency for Ontario to take more measures to depopulate its jails


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Less than a week after reports emerged that a staff member who recently travelled to Europe and returned to work at the Toronto South Detention Centre tested positive for COVID-19, today the Ottawa Citizen broke the news that a prisoner recently admitted to the same jail has also tested positive for COVID-19. According to the news story, the prisoner was admitted to Toronto's "$1-Billion Hellhole" despite having "been identified as a possible case" by public health authorities.

Given the urgent need to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19 amongst people who are caged and working in Ontario's provincial jails and prisons, the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project is again urging the province to take additional measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission behind jail walls to protect prisoners and staff, as well as public health and community safety.

The provincial Ministry of the Solicitor General must work with the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police across the province to encourage officers to increase their use of discretion instead of arresting and detaining people where there is not an immediate risk to the safety of others. The criminalization of acts such as, but not limited to, the simple possession of prohibited drugs should be suspended indefinitely. Police forces across Ontario also ought to order their officers to release people they arrest on their own recognizance with a promise to appear in court at a later date to reduce the forced displacement and containment of people in provincial jails. As noted in the Contain COVID-19, Not People statement released last week, local police forces and the "Canadian Border Services Agency should also not conduct immigration enforcement operations, especially in or around shelters, hospitals, or medical clinics" so that every single person in Ontario feels safe to seek support to practice social distancing and seek care should they experience COVID-19 symptoms. Such measures will also reduce the number of people entering Ontario's jails.

In addition to these policing measures, the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General must issue directives to Crown attorneys to increase their consent to bail, including without sureties and less stringent conditions, with the goal of limiting imprisonment during this the COVID-19 crisis. Crown attorneys and courts should also immediately review the roster of prisoners being held on pre-trial detention in Ontario to identify who can be safely let out on bail with resources to practice social distancing and self-isolate where required. 

Over the past two weeks, the Government of Ontario has taken a number of steps to decrease the number of prisoners forcibly confined in its jails and prisons. On 13 March 2020, the Ministry of the Solicitor General announced that weekend prisoners will serve their intermittent sentences at home or in the community through temporary absences. A week later on 20 March 2020, the Ministry also announced that the 72-hour limit for temporary absences had also been removed. The Ontario Parole Board can now also conducting hearings through "electronic or written means", which will hopefully increase the use of this form of community release. 

The Ministry of the Solicitor General can do much more to depopulate its jails to the extent that is safely possible, including having its provincial prison and parole authorities review the roster of sentenced prisoners to see who can safely be let out of jail on temporary absences and parole immediately. They also need to pressure the federal government to request that immigration authorities review the roster of immigration detainees being held in places like the Lindsay super-jail to identify prisoners who can live in the community. 

The evidence that imprisonment undermines public health and community safety is robust and incontrovertible. To limit the spread of COVID-19 behind and beyond jail walls, the Government of Ontario needs to take additional measures to reduce the flow of people into its prisons and to take steps to release as many prisoners from custody as is currently safely possible to do. In so doing, a portion of the $235 it costs to imprison a single person in Ontario for a single day can be redirected towards providing community supports that help criminalized people meet their basic needs such as housing and food in order to facilitate a broader just transition from policing, punitive justice, and the prison industrial complex to compassionate and caring communities. The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project has long advocated against new and bigger jails like the failed Toronto South Detention Centre experiment, and urges the province to invest more in communities, instead of infrastructures of human caging starting today.

FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS CONTACT:
Justin Piché, PhD
Associate Professor, Criminology, University of Ottawa
613-793-1093 / justin.piche@uottawa.ca 


Monday, March 16, 2020

Health care remains a pressing issue at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre as COVID-19 risks cause concern


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

16 March 2020 – The Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP), a joint Carleton University and University of Ottawa community initiative, is calling upon the Government of Ontario to shift from pretrial detention to pretrial freedom, and to take other immediate steps to significantly reduce the use and harms of imprisonment to limit the spread of COVID-19 and improve community safety. With inadequate health care cited as a major area of concern for people caged at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) who have called our Jail Accountability & Information Line (JAIL), CPEP is very concerned the jail’s already scarce health care staff and resources will be overwhelmed, leading to preventable virus transmissions behind and beyond the bars.

As has been extensively documented in publicly-available JAIL hotline reports, even in times without a global pandemic threatening our collective well-being, people incarcerated at OCDC are often unable to access essential healthcare services that should be readily available. Sarah Speight, JAIL hotline Coordinator and Researcher, explains: “OCDC prisoners regularly report to us how pre-existing conditions have been exacerbated behind jail walls due to a lack of continuity in care. We also know OCDC is an environment where the risk of developing new health conditions is all too real, particularly during lockdowns and when segregation is used. The jail fails to provide adequate health care when it’s business as usual. In times of pandemic the situation may deteriorate further”. Recognizing some of these challenges, the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General has extended temporary absences to intermittent prisoners, who usually report to provincial jails to serve their sentences on the weekends, as part of public health efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. CPEP has recommended this be done in our reports for years. Aaron Doyle, Sociology Professor at Carleton University and co-founder of CPEP, urges the Government of Ontario to do more: “The province needs to extend temporary absences to other prisoners. For years, experts have also been calling for the police, Crown counsel and the courts to focus more on diversion measures and to reduce the number of people awaiting their trials in jail. Officials from the Solicitor General’s and Attorney General’s ministries have been saying for some time that bail should be used more often and that people shouldn’t be locked-up for administrative reasons like breaches of bail conditions, yet pre-trial prisoners still account for approximately two-thirds of people held in Ontario’s jails. With the courts reducing their case processing capacity to limit the spread of the coronavirus, now’s the time to make such changes before our jails become even more crowded. It will save lives and reduce the harms created by our current penal system”.

JAIL hotline callers have also reported difficulties staying connected with their loved ones and community supports. Maintaining such connections is all the more important in the context of a public health emergency where communication and access to accurate information is essential to reducing tension on both sides of jail walls. Justin Piché, Criminology Professor at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of CPEP, explains how Ontario’s jail phone system contributes to this disconnection: “Under the province’s current deal with Bell Canada, people held in places like OCDC can only reach their families and community contacts through expensive collect calls to landlines. Loved ones that only have cell phones and care providers with switchboards are out of bounds. Ontario’s jail phone system is harmful and needs to be changed”. Souheil Benslimane, Lead Coordinator of the JAIL hotline, adds: “Ontario’s Solicitor General has suspended visits to jails to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. This is extremely concerning. I urge the province to implement measures on its own and with the federal government to divert and decarcerate people, including immigration detainees, to keep them in their communities and to pilot free calling to keep people connected on both sides of prison walls to promote health and safety. If the province won’t take this necessary step, Bell Canada and other phone providers need to step up by temporarily waiving fees for collect calls to ensure people pushed to the margins can stay connected during this crisis”.

While measures are being taken in our community to promote social distancing, the JAIL hotline remains open, with our staff taking calls from OCDC prisoners on weekdays from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at 613-567-JAIL (5245). The line has taken 4,204 calls since it was launched in December 2018, and hundreds of the calls have centred on inadequate health care at OCDC. Given this, it is urgent that the Government of Ontario take steps to significantly reduce imprisonment to improve public health and safety.


FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS CONTACT:

Souheil Benslimane
Lead Coordinator, Jail Accountability & Information Line
819-592-6469 / jailhotline@gmail.com 

Justin Piché, PhD
Associate Professor, Criminology, University of Ottawa
613-793-1093 / justin.piche@uottawa.ca

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Media Advisory - Bell Let Us Talk Protest in Ottawa - Imprisonment, Corporate Profits and Mental Health

WHEN?
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
12:00pm – 12:30pm

WHERE?
Bell Place
160 Elgin Street / Ottawa

WHO?
Souheil Benslimane (Lead Coordinator, Jail Accountability & Information Line)
Farhat Rehman (Member, MOMS / Mothers Offering Mutual Support)
Leah Bell (Member, Overdose Prevention Ottawa)
Michael Spratt (Partner, Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP)
Joel Harden (Member of Provincial Parliament – Ottawa-Centre)

WHY?
Despite Bell’s “Let’s Talk” mental health campaign, the phone company makes big money from Ontario’s outdated and predatory jail phone system that causes economic and mental distress to prisoners and people that support them in the community. Imprisonment forcibly separates prisoners from their loved ones and resources in the community, which undermines our collective well-being and safety in the name of protecting society. Phone calls are a lifeline in prisons, but in 2020 Ontario’s jail phone system still doesn’t allow prisoners to call cell phones. Prisoners can only reach their loved ones and community care providers by phone through expensive collect calls that only compound the challenges and anguish faced by people impacted by human caging. Who benefits from this flawed and expensive system? Prison Industrial Complex actors like Bell Canada and the Ministry of the Solicitor General who receives kickbacks from them. The contract for Ontario’s jail phone system is up and there’s an opportunity to put in place a new model that allows prisoners to call the cell phones and landlines of their loved ones, lawyers and community care providers without charging them exorbitant fees.

WHAT?
During this protest that will include short speeches and songs, participants will make the following demands: 
  1. That the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Government replaces the current outdated and expensive provincial jail phone system with one that a) makes telecommunication cost-free for Ontario's provincial prisoners and their community supports, b) allows prisoners to call any number in Canada directly – including cellphones, and c) increases or eliminates the 20-minute limit on phone calls. 
  2. That the Government of Ontario promote keeping loved ones connected by reducing the use of human caging through greater investments in initiatives that a) meet the basic needs of all Ontarians (i.e. access to housing, education, employment, health and mental health care, etc.), b) prevent violence and offer access to transformative justice when harm occurs, as well as c) divert and decarcerate people from jail to the extent possible. 
The event will end with participants taking concrete actions to pressure the Ontario Government and Bell Canada to make immediate changes to the province’s jail phone system that are consistent with their stated corporate objectives. A similar rally is being held tomorrow at 1pm in Toronto at Bell's headquarters and a petition including the demands above has already amassed more than 2,500 signatures.


MEDIA CONTACT
Souheil Benslimane
819-592-6469
souheilabouomar@gmail.com