Monday, June 29, 2015


by Justin Piché, Assistant Professor, Criminology, University of Ottawa

In May, the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) organized two events that captured some of the damage that the Conservative Government of Canada's punishment agenda has done, both inside and outside prison walls.

On May 26th, concerned members of the Ottawa community gathered at the West End Well Co-op for a screening of Til the Cows Come Home, which documents the Harper government's decision to shut down Correctional Service of Canada prison farms.  Centred in Kingston, the film captures the strong and sustained resistance of citizens, farmers, local politicians and others who rallied around to try to save the program that helped federal prisoners transition back into society safely.  

The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Anita Grace (far right) that featured 1) Shaun Shannon (centre), a former prisoner who spoke about the benefits of the prison farms based on his first-hand experience, 2) Mary Campbell (left), a former Director General of Public Safety Canada's Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate who located the prison farms closures within the current federal government's willingness to discard more humane and effective penal policies and practices in favour of harsh and reckless measures, and 3) Clarke Mackey, an award-winning producer-director and one of the filmmakers who talked about on-going efforts to re-instate the prison farms program.    

Later that week, CPEP hosted its third annual Artists for Social Justice Open Stage & Art Exhibition on May 29th.  Those gathered shared their works that took many forms such as paintings, dancing, poems, songs and other contributions.  Funds were also raised to support Justice for Deepan.

As CPEP looks to the summer, our efforts have turned towards working with others groups on organizing Prisoners' Justice Day (PJD) events on August 10th to grieve deaths in custody and to stand in solidarity with the imprisoned to demand human rights for all.  News about what is planned for PJD on Algonquin Territory / Ottawa will be announced in the weeks ahead.

With the 2015 federal election campaign looming, CPEP will also be working and collaborating with other public education groups on a number of initiatives (e.g. presentation slides and notes, blog posts, fact sheets, videos, debates and voting workshops) to build awareness about costly, unjust, and ineffective penal policies and practices.  Some of these harms of criminalization and punishment are documented by contributors in this edition of tpcp-canada who note gaps in human rights rhetoric and practice, as well as their collateral consequences on the families of the incarcerated.   In the months ahead, we will also promote alternatives in the hopes that all federal political parties will commit to adopting measures that will give the space and resources necessary to those most affected by criminalized conflicts and harms to work towards healing to the degree that is possible.  Those interested in working with CPEP can contact us at     


International standards for the treatment of prisoners
by Anita Grace, PhD Student, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

Who cares about mothers of the criminalized?
by Farhat Rehman, Member, Moms Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)

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