Questions here: firstname.lastname@example.org
This emergency support fund supports prisoners re-entering the community and those that are still behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will give out one-time stipends of $225 to recently released prisoners and folks that are still incarcerated.
Since we need this fund to reach as many people as possible, please only apply once. We will continue to fundraise so that we can give out as many stipends as possible.
This fund is limited. Using community donations, we will continue to distribute funds for as long as we can. We recognize that this, too, will not be sufficient to bridge the deep gaps that this crisis has caused.
To preserve each other’s privacy and dignity, we will never publish the names or details of the recipients. Still, we will give periodic updates to our community on the number of people who have been served by this fund.
WHO ORGANIZED THIS SUPPORT FUND
We are a network of frontline workers, community activists, former prisoners, loved ones of those in prison and concerned community members. We are committed to ensuring that no prisoner is left behind in response to COVID-19.
He’d always had problems on Parole, in handling the newfound freedom and responsibility, as well as in trying to immediately fit into a society he’d never really felt a part of. While he has often worked towards enormous amounts of success in his life by any measure – academic, lengths of sobriety, social network building, and overall health and wellbeing - it only takes a few drinks in a time of stress to start a downward spiral that lands him back inside. Our system of incarceration, with it’s multi-billion dollar budget equating to $550 in taxes for each Canadian, a staff-to-prisoner ratio of about 1:1, and International award-winning programming, is supposed to help people like this man sort out their past traumas and learn new skills while it gives them the space to do so, away from the pressures of late-stage colonial capitalism. The fact that 80-90% of men, and 70-80% of women incarcerates make multiple trips through it tells a different story. Maybe it’s not working. Few prisoners arrive in a vacuum. Most have histories of economic marginalization, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and undiagnosed and untreated mental health and neurodiversity conditions. While clinical Psychologists are made available and one-size-fits-most programming encourages prisoners to be open and expressive in talking about and analysing their past, present, and future selves and circumstances, doing so while in a cage is not conducive to progress here. Prisoners fear that health professionals, PO’s, and programming staff will use admissions against them in Public Safety Risk Assessments, keeping them in longer. Many of them have understandable reservation about trusting or working with “the man” and mainstream, colonial social structures and institutions in general. Further to that, incarceration and spending time surrounded by others in crisis, many of whom know only fear, anger, and violence as means of sorting out their problems (and I do not include only the prisoners who inhabit the prison in this), is bound to be traumatic. Normal support structures such as friends and family are kept at arm’s length, and many forms of meaningful human contact are stigmatized and shunned within the criminal and prison cultures. So how does one get through what I’ve described as the most trauma-inducing, as opposed to reducing, experiences someone can experience during peacetime? We support each other while we’re inside. And it’s a mostly wonderful, respectful, and loving phenomenon. The problem, and here I get back around to the experiences of the gentleman I began to describe to you, is that the system cuts you off from this vital support network upon parole release. For many, this is the only true support they have ever known. You would think that a system predicated on fostering empathy and pro-social outcomes would not cut you off from those who sympathize with you, and upon whom you have leaned, and been leaned upon, during a difficult phase of incarceration. I know the man I describe. I’ve seen him at his absolute best. I know who he truly is, and who he can aspire and work to be. I also know that during his most difficult times, since we were released, I’ve not been allowed contact with him. And knowing him, I don’t have to wonder if having more familiar supports, with whom he could be open without fear of judgement, people who had been in his shoes, would have made a difference, had the system only allowed it. It’s yet one more injustice inherent in how we treat the clients of our systems of “justice.”
Aired August 2, 2017
Posted to the Internet Archive
This week we bring you a conversation recorded in Ottawa between a CPR correspondent and Jarrod Shook. If you listen to our show you’ll recognize Jarrod’s name – he was an active voice and frequent contributor to CPR while he was incarcerated at Collins Bay Institution before getting paroled one year ago. He shared his thoughts about what life is like on parole, his engagement with the Ottawa poetry scene, prison activism in Ottawa including opposing new jail construction, his involvement with the Journal of Prisoners on Prison, and Prisoners Justice Day.
Johnny Cash – Redemption Song (ft Joe Strummer)
Bone Thugs – Coming Home (ft Stephen Marley)