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.