Tonight we feature two critical perspectives on the recent government announcement to re-introduce the prison farms program at Kingston-area prisons. The first is with Calvin Neufeld of Evolve Our Prison Farms who has been campaigning for plant-based agriculture and an animal sanctuary in place of the prison farm program. The second interview is with a member of End the Prison Industrial Complex, a Kingston-based prison abolition collective.
This second installation in the CPR Zine Series contains a transcript of an interview we did in February 2018 with Jarrod Shook. We discussed prison labour, resistance to prison pay cuts inside, the four-year lawsuit, and next steps in the struggle for better wages and dignity for prisoner workers.
Bad Company – Something About You
Blackbird Raum – Lucasville
The Specials – Ghost Town
Brian and Jenn Johnson – You’re Gonna Be Okay
Snotty Nose Rez Kids – KKKanada
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light’
This week’s show featured an interview with three students in the Queen’s Faculty of Law who are part of Pro Bono Students Canada, a volunteer program offering pro bono legal services to various organizations. Priya Patel, Jeremy, Ambraska, and Amita Persad-Ford are currently working with PASAN on a research project on class action lawsuits. Their research will help to inform prisoners about what class action lawsuits are, and what class actions they may be able to join, and will be circulated in PASAN’s Cell Count prison newsletter.
This show also featured Part 2 of the Canadaland Commons 2-part series on Solitary Confinement, “Stories from Solitude“.
CPR is excited to air an extended and informative interview with Lisa Guenther, the new Queen’s National Scholar in Political Philosophy and Critical Prison Studies at Queen’s University. We talked about the history of the prison, the philosophy and experience of solitary confinement, settler colonialism and incarceration, the Prison for Women, and much more. Check out her bio here: http://www.queensu.ca/philosophy/guenther-lisa.
Tonight we bring you an interview with Jarrod Shook about the latest Federal Court ruling on prison wages.
In 2013, the Conservative Government introduced a 30% pay cut to wages for work done by prisoners and called it a “food and accommodation tax” as well as eliminating incentive pay work done at CORCAN facilities, a government agency that contracts out prison labour to both the public and private sector. Prisoners are forced to purchase items such as stamps and personal hygiene products through government designated suppliers, and wages had already decreased sevenfold in actual purchasing power, as they hadn’t been increased since being established in the 1980s.
After exhausting internal grievance procedures, prisoners at Collins Bay Institution launched a work strike, which spread to federal prisons across Canada. Since 2014, several prisoners were fighting a lawsuit against the Government of Canada challenging the constitutionality of the pay cuts. At the end of January, a Federal Court in Ottawa threw out the case, ruling that prison labour falls under ‘programming’ and that prisoners are not in an employer-employee relationship with the Correctional Service of Canada.
I spoke with Jarrod Shook, an ex-prisoner who was a regular contributor to CPR while incarcerated at Collins Bay. He was a spokesperson for the strike in 2013, an applicant on the lawsuit, and he is now studying criminology at the University of Ottawa where he continues to be involved in prison-related activism. We discussed the history of the Inmate Pay System, resistance to prison pay cuts inside, the four-year lawsuit, and next steps in the struggle for better wages and dignity for prisoner workers.