• The "Beaver Dam" Effect

    hi everyone!

    i recently celebrated six months since my release.  weird... it seems like much longer that i've been out.  in some ways it's hard to believe i was ever locked up - luckily i have this blog to remind me!  i also wrote a feature article for the spring/summer issue of Shameless, which is all about law, disorder and justice. 

    the following piece was written by Terrance Naistus in march of 2011.  he asked me to post it here.  Terrance is currently serving a sentence in Edmonton Institution, which is a federal penitentiary.  this post was written about Saskatchewan Penitentiary after he did some time there.


    mandy  :)






  • Braless

    hi everyone!

    it's been a long time since i've posted anything here.  i had hoped that the blog would continue to be used by prisoners after my release, and although it's been a slow start, i still hope that will happen.  i've been in touch recently with a woman named Jeanette Tossounion who is currently serving a sentence at Vanier.  she asked me to post the following piece to Bored But Not Broken.  it's a really good example of the pettiness of the institution's need for control, and of the significant consequences it can have on the inmates there. 

    i have a piece from an inmate at Edmonton Institution that i'll post here soon.  please keep reading - there are so many people looking to tell their stories to people who give a shit.  and if you're in touch with any prisoners please do let them know that they're welcome to post stuff here.  thanks!

  • so this is it folks. . .

    November 21 - Aries - Life is good and about to get even better.  You can't quite believe that ?  Well you will when you begin to see that everything is going your way at last.  Keeping a positive attitude is easy when so many positive things are happening. 

  • things that shouldn't happen

    the inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith in a Federal Penitentiary five years ago has been shining a much needed light on policy and procedure at Correctional Services Canada, and on the behaviour and attitudes of some of the people it employs.

    recently some people on my unit were discussing a newspaper article about the inquiry.  this led to a conversation about the lack of proper care for people with physical and mental health needs here at Vanier, and the ways in which they're often neglected and mistreated.  i asked if anyone would like to write their stories down for the blog and i got four back, to which i've added two of my own.

    if you're not familiar with the incarcerated female population, there's one very important thing to know: the vast majority of inmates suffer from depression, trauma, and/or addiction, and many deal with illnesses such as schizophrenia and severe anxiety disorders.  when you read about the conditions in jails and the way prisoners are treated it's especially important to keep that in mind.

  • I'm filing a human rights application today against Vanier

    classification, discrimination and human rights

    here's a Media Release and important Statements of Support from NOII and DAMN2025

    today i'm filing a Human Rights application against the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Vanier Centre for Women. i hope to initiate some changes in their security classification system, which is opaque and discriminatory and contains no fair grievance process.

    in previous posts i've tried to describe the difference between the maximum and medium security units but i probably haven't done it justice. you'll have to trust me on this: the freedoms i enjoy now may seem limited and the privileges minor, but they make a world of difference. so who gets to live in which world and what are those decisions based on?

  • but what does it feel like?

    recently a visitor asked me what jail is like.  he then went on to say that of course he didn't except me to be able to describe it.

    he's right – i don't think i can properly describe what it's really like to be here.  but his question made me think about how i'd sum up this experience, and i'm going to give it a shot.

    i've tried in this blog to give you a picture of my surroundings, a sense of what the days are like, an idea of the kind of things that go on.  what it feels like, though. . .that's harder.  at the risk of sounding melodramatic, the closest i can come to it is this: it makes me feel diminished as a person.  the real me is not allowed.  the person that i am is disrespected and devalued.  i'm infantilized, and i struggle to hold on to a sense of dignity.  and it's 24/7, day after day after day.

    words are weak.  i think it's something you have to experience to fully understand.

  • random musings - october continued

    october 10

     last night they screwed up when they turned the lights out.  the hallway lights went out as well as the ones in our rooms, and for a few wonderful seconds it was completely dark.  i'm really looking forward to darkness.

    the darkness around here today is just the general mood.  it has been an eventful and rather unpleasant day.

    i was in the shower this morning, around 10am, when the loudspeaker came on.  “ladies, to your rooms. everyone to your room.”  fuck.  that's weird – i wonder what's happening?  my first thought is that the very pregnant woman on D-wing has gone into labour, but as time goes on it starts to feel more tense and serious than that.  there's a lot of activity over the loudspeaker, asking various important people (like lieutenants aka white shirts, and the head of security) to call various extensions.  the guards are not happy.  lunch is a solemn affair, behind closed doors with no mass trading opportunity.  we are not impressed.

  • boredbutnotbroken, continued

    november 3 2012 - today is my one month left celebration!  that means candy, and a strange, as yet to be determined concoction involving a melted chocolate bar. 

    it also means my time here is running out, so i need to get my shit together and assess what i can realistically get done in the few weeks i have left.  what am i going to have to set aside for later?  where am i just going to be forced to admit defeat?

    i've been thinking a lot lately about how i'll be able to contribute to prisoner justice work from the outside.  one thing i'd really like to do is keep this blog going.  the people who run and work in jails are aware that people on the outside don't really know what goes on in the inside, and have very limited contact with prisoners.  they benefit from this and to some extent they rely on it at the same time prisoners want to share their stories – that became obvious when we put together the peak special issue on ontario prisons over the summer. 

  • random musings - october

    october 2, 2012

    today i started training as a laundry worker.  how did this happen?  and am i going to regret it?

    about a week ago one of the two laundry workers, who is being sentenced to pen time soon, told me that she'd overheard guards saying i might be a good person to take her place.  strange that for seven and a half months i was considered too much of a security risk to even let off of maximum, and suddenly i'm considered a good candidate for a jail job.  but there it is: Vanier logic.

    so. . .would i be interested?

    i told her i'd think about it.  i weighed the pros and cons.


    -i'm pretty busy already;

    -i'm politically opposed to doing free labour for an institution i think should be abolished (this is a BIG con).


     -i've been wanting to write about prison labour since before my sentencing, and the best way to learn about it is to do it;

     -"payment" is junk food (chocolate bar, chips and pop) and extra meal trays - which means more fruit and vegetables and the occasional cookie or muffin - which i would certainly enjoy;

  • random musings - september

    september 8, 2012

    laundry day!

    on this unit we're issued clothes, bedding and towels on arrival and they're ours to keep for the duration of our stay.  twice a week we have the opportunity to wash them – everything except the blankets, which are exchanged once a month.  laundry days for my wing (C) are tuesdays and saturdays, and this is how it works: we line up our laundry bags along a wall in the common room, and shortly after breakfast a guard calls “LAUNDRY!” over the loudspeaker.  there are four washers and four driers so we work through the line four at a time, with switchovers happening every 45 minutes or so.  the laundry room is in the basement.  a guard at the desk keeps track of who comes down, and two laundry workers (inmates) supervise the process.  this is to make sure people aren't washing blankets or pillows, or using cold water or short cycles or half-load settings (as always, Vanier doesn't care about conserving water or energy), or using shampoo.  Tide is available off canteen, and Bounce sheets, but jail issue detergent is available for those who need it.

  • the wheels of "justice", grinding on.

    it's october.  the leaves are turning, the nights are getting cold and i have only 8 weeks left in this sentence.

    the organizing against the 2010 G20 summit has been part of my life in some form or other since the fall of 2008.  it's hard to believe this part of my life is coming to a close, and at the same time it's hard to believe it's taken so long - it's been almost 2.5 years since my arrest.  oh, the wheels of "justice", grinding on.

    and i'm one of the lucky ones!

    as i start to wrap up my life as a prisoner and turn my mind to life on the outside i'm thinking a lot about other folks who still find themselves in the grip of the state. 

    for over two years now people arrested for their (alleged) participation in the protests against the G20 have had to put their lives on hold while people in suits and odd-looking  pretentious robes discuss their fate.  this limbo has been different for different people but has generally meant some combination of detention, house arrest, restrictive bail conditions including separation from their community due to forced relocation and/or non-association, loss of employment, interruption of schooling, massive expense and strain on relationships.

  • a visit to the real world

    my new unit is usually for people who haven't been convicted and/or sentenced yet, so every weekday morning a few people are woken up early for court.  a few weeks ago i was one of them!  i had been asked to testify at a G20-related preliminary inquiry, the subpoena and the judge's order had been delivered to the jail, and i was prepared for a long, cold day in the court cells of toronto's Old City Hall.  going to court is a big part of life at Vanier for many inmates so i thought you might be interested in what it's like.

  • on being a proper lady

    yesterday i had a counsel visit.  these can be over an hour long, and there's no washroom access once you're locked in the room with your lawyer.  now it just so happens that i have what is quite possibly the world's smallest bladder and therefore i'm a bit neurotic about not being within reach of a toilet or a bush.  so when my name was called i quickly ran to the bathroom.

     while i'm pissing, i'm called over the loudspeaker again, and then i hear another, distinctly hostile, voice:





                    -HISCOCKS I'M WAITING HERE !!!

     wow.  crusty, much?

     i go out.  the guard is waiting for me, all narrowed-eyes-and-wide-stance aggression.

                    -what were you doing?

  • perks and privileges

    today i'm continuing my observations of the social interactions and dynamics of Canada Geese.  they hang out outside my window every day, in various combinations, small groups and pairs merging and breaking apart in a never-ending series of aggressive, defensive and protective manoeuvres.  i'm starting to understand the meanings of their calls and behaviours, and to recognize individuals.  there are the bullied, the injured, the ones who are allowed at the outskirts of the group - so close and no closer.  it's fascinating and heartbreaking . . .i want to go out there and scold the jerks, take care of the weak, and replace this whole survival of the fittest thing with a community based on mutual aid and solidarity.  hey, wait a minute, isn't that pretty much why i'm in jail?  and since i'm locked up, there's absolutely nothing i can do about the shunned bird who can barely walk, who's constantly being driven off and who seems to have been abandoned by the partner who was with her until yesterday.  and there it is again, the feeling of being powerless to do anything about the suffering all around me.  ugh.  jail.


  • today i'm running down the walls

    today i'm Running Down the Walls at vanier centre for women in milton, ontario, where i've been imprisoned since january.  during yard i'll do 48 laps of the small dirt track, and if we get called in before i am done i'll finish up in the hallway on our wing.

    i'm running because it's not often that we have the opportunity to come together in this way.  prisons are designed to keep inmates from organizing with each other and with folks on the outside.  they want us isolated and disengaged. 

    for example, when i first arrived i was told it was unlikely i'd be classified as medium security for quite some time, because i'm a political organizer.  because, and i quote, "we don't want people banding together up there."  i was held on maximum security for seven and a half months.  the jail has also gone to some pretty extreme lengths to keep me away from other G20 related prisoners. 

    discussion and solidarity between jails is also discouraged.  the prison magazine Cell Count is routinely withheld from peoples mail, and most of the copies of the Peak Dispatches from Ontario Prisons didn't make it in either.  the prison administration and the state are afraid of us coming together to talk, to organize, to resist. 

  • cops, courts, censorship: support Julian and Dan!

    on november 14, 2011, Julian Ichim published a blog post about his experience as the target of an undercover cop in the lead up to the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010.  you can read the post here.  the following day the crown decided to press charges against him, and he was arrested by Waterloo Regional Police at his house one week later.  the charges/  three counts of Disobey Court Order - one for each time he used the cop's alias Khalid Mohamed.  the reason?  at the preliminary inquiry into the case against the G20 Main Conspiracy Group the judge had ordered a publication ban on the real and fake names of both undercover cops.

  • finally!


    august 24, 2012

    i'm sitting at my desk drinking water from a plastic mug with a handle.  it's my own room - no cellie! - and the door doesn't lock.  air is coming in from the open window, through which i can see grass and trees.  tomorrow when i go outside i will walk on that grass and visit as many of those trees as i can.  at the expense of cool, i just might hug them.  on Labour Day we're having Sports Day - inmates are encouraged to register in teams of six by august 31. 

    that's right folks, i've entered a whole new world.  goodbye maximum security, hello Unit 4!

    i can't really describe how amazing it is to feel outside air on my face right now. . .

  • Danger is Better Than Jail

    the following story is based on informal conversations and an interview with an inmate being detained by Immigration Canada and not for any (alleged) contravention of the Criminal Code.  unless i refer to myself personally i wasn't a witness to any of the events described.  i  wrote her story as it was told to me and she approved the final draft. the language barrier was quite a challenge, and i'd like to thank the other Russian-speaking inmates on our range for their help with translation.

     i should point out that for safety reasons i  had some misgivings about printing the person's real name, but after a long discussion she assured me that she really wanted it to be there. after thinking about it more and in consultation with people on the outside, I decided to change the name after all.  it's been done without her knowledge or consent and i still feel conflicted about it.

  • in case you or a friend are planning to join me. . .

     in case you or a friend are planning to join me. . . .

    kelly was sentenced to 11 months in Vanier July 19 for her participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, pro-justice actions that happened during the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto.  if you haven't already you can read about it here.  she's been put across the hall on 2A so i can see her now and then and sneak in an illegal wave.  there are some really nice folks on 2A, and i have no doubt she's doing just fine.  since her release on bail almost two years ago she has been under a condition not to communicate with the G20 Main Conspiracy Group, so we haven't spoken.  if we could have, i would have shared some of the things i've learned about jail with her before she came in.  instead i'll share them with you, in case you (or a friend) ever find yourself looking at a stay in the lovely Milton Hilton. for what it's worth, my top five pieces of unsolicited advice:

    1) be okay with it

    2) take care of yourself
    3) set goals and do stuff
    4) don't expect too much of yourself
    5) be a bridge

  • prisoners’ statement on Prisoners’ Justice Day

    On Prisoners’ Justice Day in every jail in Canada and in prisons around the world inmates will go on a 24-hour hunger strike. We do this to remember Eddy Nolan who died in Millhaven Penitentiary in Ontario on August 10th 1974 as a victim of the inhumane conditions in that prison at that time. We do this to remember all of the inmates who fought and the two who died in a four day riot in April of 1971 at Kingston Penitentiary. Both of those incidents led to major reforms in the Canadian prison system. We fast so that we ourselves remember. We strike to remind the institutions and the world that even behind bars we are still entitled to human rights and human dignity, and we can still fight for both.

  • it's official: MAIL FAIL

    well this is embarrassing.

     i am sorry to say that in spite of my good intentions and my best efforts, it's no longer possible for me to answer all of your letters.  i'm so sorry.   i've been deluding myself for months that i'll be able to catch up but no matter how hard i try, the pile of unanswered mail keeps growing – and sooner or later i am going to lose it all in a search.

     of course, this is a testament to how awesome you all are!   i would love to keep hearing from you as long as you won't be offended if i can't write you back.  but if you're looking for a more balanced relationship with an incarcerated pen pal, i suggest contacting your local prisoner correspondence project or prisoner solidarity group or google jail pen-pals.  there are a lot of inmates who would love to get letters and who will be able to put the time and energy you deserve into replying.   with Prisoners Justice Day coming up on August 10th, this is a perfect time to spread the solidarity around. 

  • the justice system is only too happy to help you believe you are a piece of shit

    this week i'm handing my blog over to another inmate who recently went home after spending almost two and a half months here.  this post started off as a written interview, but the questions ended up just being guidelines so we removed them from the text.  i think it took a great deal of courage, and i'm grateful and very happy to be able to bring her story to you all.

     thank you to the author.  wherever you are i hope you're doing well and enjoying your freedom!

     The justice system is only too happy to help you believe that you are a piece of shit

     My charges were theft under $5000 and breach of probation.  Although I was arrested December 24th, the next time i went to court (besides the bail hearings) was January 11th.  Disclosure was partially done and at that point they offered me 71 days on a guilty plea.  When I went for sentencing on January 31st the Crown read out a 90 day sentence (31 days was not mentioned), but my release date is March 4th which is in fact 71 days served out of 90 – that's more than the 2/3 required.  I'm not sure why that is, I was not given the opportunity to inquire in court that day.

  • reflection, part two: the best revenge

    friday, june 22

     today is my halfway day.  in a few hours i'll have served exactly five and one third months and will have exactly five and one third months to go.  162 days.  it's time to assess and reflect.   in a post entitled liberation i talked about my right to apply for early parole and my reasons for waiving it.  had i applied and been approved, i could be walking out of here today.   i know i made the right decision but i can't lie, i've been thinking a lot about it lately  especially now that Leah is so close to getting out and i'll be stuck here until winter. 

  • reflection, part 1: seasons and oaks trees

    june 20th, 5:45am

     today is the summer solstice.  through the tiny crack in the frosted covering of my cell's window i can see little bits of pink in the sky.  it's all i'll see of the sunrise, and later it will be all i'll see of the sunset.  usually i would try to spend this entire day outside. . .but how do i celebrate the longest day of the year in a place like this?  i have such a limited relationship with the Earth these days - with weather, temperature, light and darkness, cycles and season.  our time outside is short, our glimpses of the outdoors are constricted and brief, our cell lights are off for daytime "quiet time" but are on all night, our unit is air conditioned.  i've been plucked right out of nature and dumped into a zone of extreme alienation.

  • Alex Hundert: an open letter to all who have supported me


    Support Six Nations Land Defenders: an open letter to all those who have supported me


    This is a letter I am writing to everyone who supported me over the past two years, since our arrests brought to light the massive police operation against a group of solidarity activists and community organisers.

    In that time I have received such an incredible amount of support from friends and family, from allies, from “movement” organisations, and also from civil liberties organisations, academic and journalist associations, and unions. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude and appreciation for all of it.

    As I head back into jail on Tuesday, lots of people have been offering renewed support, and having seen how substantial that support can be, I am asking that the support people are hoping to give to me over the next year, be instead extended to the new Legal Defence Fund recently established for Six Nations Land Defenders.

  • and now, to answer the big question. . .


  • am i getting jail-lite?

    in my last blog i wrote about the anger management program i'd just started.  well, i slogged through all 5 sessions and while i did learn a few things i have to say that ironically it just made me more angry.  after reading the last post someone kindly dug up an article on anger management in prison from The Guardian in 2003 and sent it to me - one paragraph in particular jumped out.

    [T]he only controversy there had been around the issue was that voiced by Noam Chomsky, in 1977: “Behaviourist therapy is pretty empty as an intellectual pursuit. . .[but] in schools and prisons. . .it provides a palatable ideology for the application of techniques of cohersion.” In other words, this therapy teaches people how to operate in society without causing trouble and, in the interests of so doing, teaches them not to strive for fairness, or justice, not to assume that “the world must be easy.”

  • i have my moments. . .

    today i went to a program: Anger Management.  it was my first and will probably be my last – a lot of programs are offered here but most of them don't apply to me or my current situation.  i told myself i would do one while i am here so i can tell you all about it, and Anger Management seemed like the most useful option.  it's one of four in the “Change is a Choice” Core Programming offered by Elizabeth Fry Peel-Halton.  Change is a Choice programs have five or six hour-and-a-half long sessions and the other topics are:

       -substance abuse

       -connections (i think this one's also known as “anti-criminal thinking!”)

       -taking control & making healthy relationship choices

  • they call jail "corrections" but it's not correcting you

    hi everyone,

    i haven't written much about day to day life here in awhile so i thought now would be a good time for some updates.  first of all, everything is fine and i'm feeling quite positive about the whole situation.  so anyone who is worrying should stop!  strangely enough i am finding myself quite busy these days and have caught myself a few times wondering how i'll manage to get everything done.  old habits die hard. i've taken on a whole lot of projects – i won't get into the details here but let's just say that they involve a lot of reading in dim light and writing with tiny little pencils.

  • the abc's of unit two

    unit two is a maximum security section of Vanier Centre for Women, where everyone starts out but many don't stay for long.  it's the only section of which i have any experience.  there are six different wings, or ranges, on the unit: 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F. A, B, F wings are General Population.  inmates can be bounced from one to the other because for all intents and purposes they are interchangeable, aside from the fact that 2B is bigger and has single cells which means that one person has to sleep on a mattress on the floor.  because of the overcrowding 2B tends to be on lockdown more often than A or F wing.  I also hear that each Gen Pop range has a distinct culture – for example Leah (2A) is generally considered to be rowdier than mine (2F) and 2B is said to be dirtier.

    i am slowly learning about the other three wings by piecing together information from inmates who have spent time in them.  unit 2C is segregation – the hole.  2E is Intensive Management And Treatment (IMAT) and Protective Custody (PC).  i don't know what 2D is called, but it's where inmates are taken for psychiatric analysis and it's much more restrictive than 2E.

  • happy may day!

    i've been excited for may day for weeks now, which is funny because i won't be able to go to any marches or actions or events this year.  still, just knowing that around the world friends, allies, people i love, people i respect and a whole lot of people i don't know will be standing up against capitalism and austerity measures, for workers and migrants and the poor. . .it all makes me so happy.  and i feel like because you're all hitting the streets i am too, even though i'm in jail.  it's hard to explain this amazing feeling, and these words certainly aren't doing it justice.  maybe this is what being “there in spirit” really means.  all i can say is that lately it's been seeming like the world and fences and locked doors that separate us don't mean much of anything.  so happy may day!  the state has failed once again :)

  • party on the inside, party on the outside


    it's been quite the celebratory month here on Unit 2F at the Vanier Institute for Women. 

    first was easter, which we observed by eating huge hot breakfasts on friday and sunday.  some guards were perhaps a little too into in: i counted three of them wearing pink bunny ears.  that's right, bunny ears.  this got mixed reviews from the inmates but my favourite comment came from a woman sitting at my table who said “they'd better be shitting out chocolate eggs or they can take those fucking things off.”  indeed. 

    on april 13th i marked the passing of my third month in this place.  at lunch i handed out jellybeans to all the tables, and i drank hot chocolate instead of tea (wild, i know. . .but we have limited options in here) at dinner my table split a caramilk bar and in the evening i ate a bag of lays barbeque chips.  as you can see, my celebrations are all about food.



    ALL OUT FOR BYRON! April 23. DATE TBA 361 University Avenue, Toronto.

    note: since this post was published, Byron's verdict was pushed back another couple of weeks. Please do not show up on April 23rd as there will be NO court. 


    hi everyone,

    first of all, thank you so much for all the birthday wishes! i had a great day and i am going to tell you all about it in my next post.

  • notes from leah


    leah henderson wrote these and requested that they be posted here on Mandy's blog:

     march 29, 2012

    Why Me?

     So, this can't normally be said in jail: everything has changed.

    For those of you who don't know me, I am Mandy's co-accused and I've been on a maximum security range at Vanier for the last 100 days. I've been approximately 50 feet from Mandy (though not allowed to nor able to communicate with her) and the day-to-day that you've read about on this blog is very similar to what my experience has been.

     Today, I was going about my regular routine when, after lunch, during quite time, I was brought out of my cell (which is not normally done during lockup) to see a social worker. She informed me that I would be moving to Unit 3, a medium security work-range for sentenced people. Now I am sure many of you were wondering what I was: Why now, half-way through my sentence? I will get to that part of the story in a minute. However, the question I hope we can all ask, often and loudly, is: Why me?

     Why me? When women here on immigration matters are kept on maximum security?

     Why me? When women here, for protecting themselves against domestic abuse are criminalized and kept on maximum security?

  • a series of unfortunate events

    saturday march 17

    the past few days have been the worst yet.  since i got here, i've been putting a lot of effort into a few specific things: my health, a daily routine, responding to mail, working on the blog and other projects.  those things have been keeping me pretty grounded and okay.  and now, one by one, they have all been dealt some pretty serious blows.  

  • women, the police and international days

    ok, i've re-sent this blog post twice through the mail and have waited over three weeks for it to arrive. it still hasn't arrived. here it is, dictated over the phone.

    this post is going to be a bit of a downer, so i wrote myself a reminder to start it on a happy note. now what can i write about that's happy? i wondered, and immediately a whole lot of things came to mind – which made me realize that i am obviously doing pretty well. so while there are some honourable mentions- the bird making a nest above the light in the yard, the amazing book i just finished, the great visits i've had and have been looking forward to – the best thing of all is that two full months into my sentence i'm still feeling quite positive about this whole situation. In the words of a friend who knows what it's like - i appear to be winning at jail.

    and now on to the important things.

  • april 1st update

    april 1 2012
    hi everyone,
    so it seems there's been a bit of a hold up with the blog, and that it has been causing a bit of stress. don't worry! everything is still fine – i have just run into a logistical snag with the mail system here. i dictated this post over the phone.
    on march 11 i sent out my 9th post, entitled Women, the Police and International Days, but it was never put in the mail. i know this because on march 23 i was given a large stack of letters – some of them had been received by the jail at the end of february! and a couple of them were addressed to leah – and there it was. so i sent it out again on march 23. i assumed it was an honest mistake, however as of today ali still hasn't received it.
    According to the INMATE INFORMATION GUIDE FOR ADULT INSTITUTIONS (oct 2010) that is posted in full on the wall of the range:
    Institution Staff may check letters you send or receive.
  • un/welcome distractions

    at the moment i'm being distracted by the bad pop music coming from the TV.  as well as being bad, it's muffled because once again we're on lockdown and it's coming through the door of my cell.  my cellie got out this morning so i'm all alone in here, you'd think that would help me focus on work but instead it seems i'm distracted by the lack of distraction.

    it looks like we might be in here all day.  all day i will be forced to look at the sticky bun sitting on my window sill.  will i eat it?  or will i save it for later?  such are the Big Questions in the air here in Cell 12, Unit 2F.

  • the many faces of Vanier

    a few weeks ago i wrote about the overly scheduled and tedious days here.  for the most part every day is the same, but every so often little things happen.  this post is a look at the more random events of the past few days - the good, the weird, the completely fucked up.  behold the many faces of Vanier!

    FEBRUARY 23rd

    as i write this we are locked down because a new 32 inch flat screen TV is being installed on the range.  it seems like a strange thing to spend money on for various reasons, among them:

    -the old TV was missing a button but it worked fine;

  • "what did you do at school today?"

    today is Family Day.

    it seems like an appropriate time to talk about how the state uses the criminal justice system and the prison-industrial complex to rip apart families in poor, marginalized and targeted communities. ostensibly, this is to protect the families of the upper and middle-classes - you know, the people who count.

  • "oh shit. . .they've got gloves on!"

    today, february 4, we didn't get let out for breakfast.  or after breakfast.


    when this happens, the hatches in our cell doors get opened so the range workers can pass our food through. (range workers are inmates who've been around for a while.  they do laundry, clean the range and help with meal distribution).  then the nurse comes and passes the meds through.  when that happens there's usually a guard too, so when they got to us my cellie took the opportunity to ask her why we were locked down.  "there's something going on," she replied.  wow, really?  what a spectacularly informative answer, thank you.

  • home, home on the range

    well, i've been here almost four weeks now, i'm all settled in and i've got the routine down.  so now it's time for me to answer the question i get asked the most by folks on the outside: "so what do you do all day?"

    come, spend a day on Unit 2F, in the maximum security wing of Vanier with me!

    the lights come up in the cells around 7:45am.  this gives us about 15 minutes to get up, get dressed, and strip our bed (folding the sheets and blankets neatly in a pile at the end of the bed, as per the photo posted out on the range).  by the time the lights go on i've been up for at least an hour or two doing a full warm-up and stretch - conveniently remembered from my days of competitive gymnastics - while my cellie sleeps.  being up that early means i get to see who's being taken out for court - they get taken at 6am so they can wait in holding cells for hours.  it's inefficient and kind of mean.  anyway, around 8am the loud buzzing sound means the cells are now unlocked, and we head out to breakfast.  the cell door locks behind us.

  • liberation

    the other day i opened a book appropriately entitled "liberation".  on the very first page, written in pencil, was this:

    Why I am here?

    How long am I going to be here?

    How do I get out of Prison?

    Who put me here?

    Who do I speak to, what do I say?

    Who will help me?

    What do I need?

    What type of help do I need?

    Where do I go?  for help.

    When do I get out?

    When does someone tell me what I am supposed to do?

    i can't imagine how it must feel to be that isolated and disoriented in a place like this.  when i got here, i'd been preparing myself for two months - lots of time to get comfortable with the idea of incarceration, to put plans in place, to find out much of what i needed to know.  i'm fortunate, and privileged, to have tons of community support and friends who are skilled organizers with a lot of resources and access.  all of that has made it pretty easy for me to get my bearings and transition into life on the inside.

  • 10 days down, 314 to go

    it's sunday january 22nd and this is my tenth day.  so far things are going well, there haven't been any problems and i have no regrets about my decision to do this time.

    since i got here i've been taking it easy and learning the lay of the land - which hasn't been very complicated since i'm in Unit 2F, the same one i was in while waiting for bail.  not much has changed since the summer of 2010 - just some little things, like now we get compostable "ecotainer" cups instead of styrofoam, and instead of real soy milk there's this horrible SMART MILK non-dairy milk replacer powder.  kosher, vegan and gross.

  • welcome to the next year of my life

    today is monday january 16th, and this is my first written dispatch from jail.  it feels strange to write with paper and these little golf-sized pencils we get (no pens allowed) - it feels a bit like high school all over again.   it also feels weird to write about what i've been doing the last few days; it's so mundane that i wonder how it can possibly be interesting.  but one of the main ideas behind these dispatches is to share this experience.  which is what it is.  so here goes!

    lots has happened since i got to unit 2F last friday, but for today i want to tell you what happened before i got here.

    first of all, my sentencing hearing was AMAZING!  i've had a lot of interesting experiences in court, but that was definitely one i'll never forget.  i'd been stressing a lot about my statement to the court - a combination of the regular writing and public speaking nervousness, some extra last minute lawyer-induced worries, and of course that nagging voice in my head that kept asking if i would be totally fucking myself over by saying this stuff to my sentencing judge.  but i'm glad i did!  there is something very liberating about giving people in power a piece of your mind - i highly recommend it.  

  • day one at vanier

    this is going to be a short post because i do not have any paper or pencils yet and i am dictating this over the phone.  when i have the ability to write i will make longer, more in depth posts.

    i am at vanier on unit 2 maximum security.  everything is fine here, my cellmate is great.  i am not on the same range as leah.

    i want to say a big thank you to everyone who came out to court yesterday.  i could hear all the chaos from the video room - it was really amazing.


  • my statement to the court


    [Today, Mandy was sentenced to 16 months in prison. During the sentencing hearing, she made this statement to the court, which was interrupted 8 times, by both the judge and the prosecutor. In the end, they spoke more during the time alloted to Mandy than Mandy spoke herself. A version which includes all of those comments will be posted separately.]

  • last day on the outside.

    from an Interview with Guelph Mercury

    today is my last day on the outside.

    i wish i could go sit in a park somewhere, but in true stressed-out-mandy style, i'm rushing to finish up all the things that should've been done weeks ago.

    tomorrow i'll be sentenced to jail and will be taken away from most of what is important to me in my life.  but i'm going to make the most of it!  this blog is for anyone who'd like to come with me on that journey.  i'll be learning a lot about jail, and i'd like to share what i learn with you.  in this day and age of conservatism, fearmongering, and Bill C-10 it's really important for us to have a good understanding of who's in jail and what purpose it's serving (if any).  i hope i can contribute to that.  i also don't want people to worry about me, and i hope that more regular communication through this blog will help you all to feel okay about this whole situation.