Issue 42 Summer 2006



Issue 42 Summer 2006
- PASAN Prisoners’ HIV/AIDS Support Action Network
PASAN is a community-based organizations working to provide advocacy, education and support to prisoners and
youth in custody on HIV/AIDS and related issues.
PASAN formed in 1991 as a grassroots
response to the emerging AIDS crisis in
the Canadian prison system.
Today, PASAN is the only communitybased organization in Canada exclusively providing HIV/AIDS prevention,
education and support services to prisoners, ex-prisoners, youth in custody and
their families.
PASAN offers support services to prisoners,
youth in custody and their families, as well
as to other organizations working on issues
of HIV/AIDS and/or prison.
These services include:
a) Individual support counseling, advocacy, pre-release planning and referrals for prisoners and young offenders living
with HIV/AIDS, primarily in the Ontario
region institutions. We can assist our clients
in accessing proper medical care and support while incarcerated, as well as help to
arrange housing and medical/social support
upon release. Much of this support is coordinated via telephone through collect calls,
although we also do in-person support
whenever possible. To date, PASAN has
worked with more than 500 HIV positive
prisoners and young offenders in over 30
different institutions (both federal and provincial) in six different provinces.
b) The only national AIDS Hotline specifically for prisoners. We accept collect
calls from prisoners across Canada at: 1866-224-9978 or 416-920-9567 and can help
you with your questions about HIV/AIDS,
and help you get the support you need.
c) We can help with replacement fees for
birth certificates, S.I.N. cards and other
necessary ID & release money (must be a
client before release - twice a year maximum). The availability of funds vary, and we
require proof of HIV status & incarceration
to access the fund.
d) PASAN also provides ongoing support,
networking, resources and training for
AIDS services organizations (ASO's) and
other community groups across Ontario. We
assist ASO’s to set up their own prison outreach and support projects, and act as a referral ‘hub’ for HIV positive prisoners and youth
in custody who are transferred from one region to another, thereby helping to ensure a
continuity of support.
a) PASAN conducts HIV/Hep C prevention education programs in many adult and
youth institutions in the southern Ontario region. An integral part of this program is our
Peer Educator’s Group, which is made up
of ex-prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. Peer
speakers accompany PASAN staff for workshops in prisons, youth facilities, and other
institutions. We have found that Peers are
often able to get across HIV/AIDS information
in these settings.
b) PASAN produces CELL COUNT quarterly. This publication, which is written and
edited primarily by prisoners and ex–prisoners
themselves, is the only newsletter in Canada
providing an uncensored forum for prisoners
and youth in custody to explore and share
their own experiences, and ideas about HIV/
AIDS. PASAN distributes 6000 issues a year
to prisoners, institutions, and agencies
across the country. CELL COUNT is free
for prisoners and people living with
HIV/AIDS in Canada.
c) PASAN also conducts free organizational and staff training for agencies and
institutions working with prison affected, and
drug using populations. We have experience
in conducting training not only for community workers and ASO staff, but also for probation/parole officers, youth custody staff,
prison social workers and case management
Since our beginning in 1991, PASAN has always maintained a focus on systemic advocacy on issues of HIV/AIDS and prisons. Our
advocacy is based in recognition and defense
of the fundamental human rights of prisoners,
and our perspective derives from PASAN’s
brief entitled HIV/AIDS In Prison Systems: A
Comprehensive Strategy (June 1992). This
document outlined 40 recommendations for
implementing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS
strategy in the Canadian prison system. In
June 1996, PASAN released the follow-up
document HIV/AIDS in Youth Custody Setting: A
Comprehensive Strategy which specifically addressed the needs of youth in custody. In
May 1999, PASAN released HIV/AIDS in the
Male-to-Female Transgendered Prison Population:
A Comprehensive Strategy. In August 1995,
PASAN organized the first National Workshop
on HIV/AIDS in Prison in Kingston, Ontario.
PASAN has made presentations on HIV/AIDS
in prison at the XI International Conference on
AIDS in Vancouver (July 1996) and has appeared before the Parliamentary Subcommittee
on AIDS in Ottawa (November 1996) and the
Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in
Washington, DC (1998).
PASAN maintains an Activist Committee which
monitors and advocates on issues affecting
prisoner and/or people living with HIV/AIDS
on a local, provincial and national basis. This
committee maintains working links with
other prisoners’ rights groups, prison projects, and ASO’s across Canada. We also
maintain an ad-hoc Advocacy Committee of
prisoners who assist us in identifying emerging issues.
IMPORTANT: Programs run on one Unit only per month. If you want to see a worker or
attend a program put in a request to the Volunteer Coordinator or the Social Work Dept.
PASAN’s Schedule ...…….……….…..…..… 3
Bulletin Board ……...…………..…….......… 4
News on the Block ….....………..………. 5-7
Prisoners’ Justice Day ……...…………… 8, 9
CECC – Look for sign-up sheet or put in a request to the Social Work Dept.
CNCC – The 2nd or 3rd Wednesday of each month (look for sign-up sheet).
DON JAIL – The 2nd Wednesday of each month from 3:00-4:30.
MAPLEHURST – The 2nd & the 4th Monday of each month from 1:30-3:30.
THE EAST – The 3rd Wednesday of the month from 1:30-3:30.
THE WEST – The 3rd Thursday from 1:30-3:30 for group and one-to-one support.
Poems …...……………………….....…. 10, 11
Health & Harm Reduction ………..…... 12-14
PenPals ……………………...……………. 15
Resources ……………...………… Back-cover
VCW – The 2nd & the 4th Monday of each month from 9:00-11:15.
GVI – (TBA - Call PASAN for info)
– We visit different youth facilities throughout the City of Toronto on a regular basis. For
more info call Trevor or Koshala.
– We visit periodically, trying to get to each prison at least every two months. We see
people individually or in group settings and talk about HIV/AIDS, Hep C and Harm Reduction. If you wish to know more or have HIV please contact us to find out when we will be
at your institution.
We visit: Kingston Pen, Warkworth, Collins Bay, Bath, Frontenac, Millhaven, Fenbrook,
Beavercreek and Pittsburgh.
Cell Count is published quarterly by PASAN and
FREE for clients & prisoners.
If you are on the outside or part of an organization, please consider a subscription @ $12 per
year or doing a newsletter/zine exchange to help
with our costs for the free subs & postage.
Circulation: 1,300
Recirculation: ?,???
Editor: Tom Jackson
PASAN COLLECT AT: 416-920-9567
Art & poetry contributors: Please let us know if
you would like your originals returned to you or sent
on to someone else..
In order to be a client & access these services you need to have confirmed HIV+ status.
Cover & Page 9, 14: Pete Collins
PHONE HOURS - Mon - Fri from 9-5, except Tuesday mornings
Page 4: Joseph John Smith
ID REPLACEMENT - 2 pieces per year
Page 6: Robert Ladouceur
RELEASE FUNDS - $50 (twice a year max.)
TTC TOKENS - 4 per week while available. (Toronto)
NEEDLE EXCHANGE - Mon & Wed - Fri: 9-12 and 1:30-5
SAFER CRACK USE KITS - Mon & Wed - Fri: 9-12 and 1:30-5
CLOTHING - 3 items per month when available.
Page 8: Rocky, Gord Hill
Sometimes we (and the phones) are very busy so … please keep trying !!!
The Spring Issue - #41 of Cell
Count was banned from:
CNCC, Fenbrook, TEDC, &
OCI. Public Health & freedom
of speech are still big no-no’s
inside some regimes.
for HIV+ Women & TS/TG People
Mooky here – I coordinate the provincial program
outside the GTA, just letting you know that as of
yesterday, I am taking care of our volunteer program. Volunteers work in different capacities at
PASAN including reception, resource centre, pamphlet translation, assembling harm reduction kits,
fundraising and some education work inside.
Come out and join us for an afternoon of talking, eating, sharing information and hanging out!
Special Guest Speakers and Interesting Topics!
PenPals - Write ONLY to ads in the most recent
issue, a lot of older ads have moved. All undeliverable mail is destroyed.
Sorry folks, too many penpal ads came in for this
issue so if yours is not in this one it will be first up
to go into the next issue. Because of the high number we receive, ads will be in one issue only, resubmit after being out for one issue.
Food, tokens, clothing, condoms, crack kits &
needle exchange will be available.
Contributors - We get a lot of great work sent in
that we are unable to use because of limited space.
Apologies. Please consider the column widths &
keep articles/poems tight & to the point. Honestly,
the first things to go in are the ones that fit nicely
& leave room for others - quality & quantity!
Looking forward to seeing you there!
A Partnership of:
2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, BLACK-CAP,
PASAN, The 519 Community Centre
& Voices of Positive Women
Family Support Group
Toronto will host the International AIDS Conference
during August of 2006. The AIDS Conference will
bring people living with HIV/AIDS, researchers,
frontline workers working in the area of Harm
Reduction, scientists, AIDS activists, doctors, support workers, and educators from around the world
to Toronto.
Meetings are every Thursday, 6:00 to 7:30 at:
489 College St, Suite 500
Toronto, ON
Circle of Hope is a group for people who are
currently supporting (or have in the past) a loved
one in prison. We offer the opportunity to share
our experiences, practical advice, information and
resources. We encourage a spirit of self-care and
self-empowerment in a safe and friendly atmosphere. Be part of a support network of people you
can relate to and trust.
For more information:
Call Joan at 416-972-9992
A Partnership of: JustUs and Rittenhouse
This newsletter is photo-copied which means 'highcontrast printing'. Tonal pencil sketches get blownaway (don’t expect good results). Black ballpoint or
felt-tip penwork (tat-style) reproduces quite well.
Try to work on paper with no lines & nothing on
the back-side (it shows through and degrades the
image). Consider the final print size: column width
is 2.5 or 5", Cover Art should be about 7x10".
Work that is being reduced loses considerable
Cover Art should not have the Issue # on it because
if it is not selected it could still be used for a later
Let us know if you would like your work returned to
you or sent on to another person.
Every Wednesday, 1:00 - 3:00
Where: PASAN
489 College St, Suite #500
(1 block west of Bathurst)
The AIDS Conference presents a very unique opportunity for PASAN to be involved. Our staff, volunteers and clients will participate actively in the
AIDS Conference. Due to the active roles of PASAN
at the conference the office will be closed from
August 13th to 18th. Normal operation will resume
on Monday August 21st.
If you are out, get in touch with me if you’re interested in volunteering at the office.
If you are in, depending on what institution you are
in, there MAY be a way to contribute.
Generally, we don’t need tons of volunteers, often
volunteer work comes up on a task by task basis.
To fill out a volunteer intake form for us to keep on
file, download one off our website or like I said, get
in touch with me. Office volunteers must go
through an interview process as well as orientation
and training before volunteering. If you speak a
language other than English, we always need people to translate our materials.
We get about 75 Cell Counts returned to us each
mail-out due to incorrect addresses.
Please help us reduce our mailing expenses by
letting us know of any address changes, ASAP!
So, before you call your mom - let us know!
If you are in any federal prison please call us Toll
Free: 1-866-224-9978
Using this number will greatly reduce our Long
Distance charges, thank you!
Starting immediately, the Safer Crack Use Coalition
(SCUC) is able to increase each agencies' stem and
screen amounts. Toronto Public Health has agreed
to provide SCUC distributors with free supplies
(including stems and screens). We will be receiving
these supplies as of April 15.
PASAN has been around for almost 14 years now
and over the years our client population has increased dramatically. As a result of this increase in
workload, clients may not be able to spend as
much time on the telephone with staff as we would
like. The staff and volunteers are dedicated and
committed and will continue to provide the best
care possible. We ask for your patience and your
Behind These Prison Walls I Cry
I am HIV+. I have been living with HIV for almost
15 years. I lived a fairly normal and happy life.
I spent most of my years dedicated to Public Speaking on the awareness of HIV. It helped me deal
with my own disease.
I married a wonderful man and spent 9 happy
months with him. I lived in fear of infecting him,
which did not help my marriage. He ultimately had
an affair. I, not knowing what to do, began to drink
and use drugs.
I had been in recovery for many years. I was
crushed and alone. I went to a local club on the
military base. Bad idea! I hadn’t been to a club in
years and it felt so free to feel alive again, until the
next morning when I awakened in the bed of a
stranger. Not knowing exactly what had happened
but suspecting the worst, I left and went home.
There I was, on a military base and had unprotected sex with a soldier. I continued to drink, hoping that this was just a nightmare. What had I
done? I made the biggest mistake of my life. I
booked a flight back East.
I never made that flight. The military police arrested me that same day. Scared and 3,000 miles
from away from home. Sitting in the back of a
police car, my world crumbled.
The next day in jail, reporters were calling. I was on
every TV station in Canada. I was portrayed as a
sex slave/whore. I was shocked and living in fear of
my life. I had received threats from the women I
was forced to live with. I went to court that Monday, not knowing what to expect. I had been
charged with aggravated sexual assault. My soul
filled with shame and remorse.
I settled into my new life. A prisoner. If only I had
been sober this never would have happened. I
repeated those words over and over in my mind. I
spent most of my days crying,. wishing and praying
that this would be over. I thought about suicide
many times. God saved my life.
Now I am home on House Arrest and trying to
rebuild my life. It is not easy. The media is no
My days are filled with smiles now, not tears. One
night caused me so much pain. If you are HIV+, my
only advice is always disclose if you are to engage
in sex. If not, your world could be turned upsidedown too!
Jennifer Murphy
New and Improved Procedures?
Hello friends, it’s a prisoner dropping’ u some new
information on the new developments concerning
how the justice system is implementing it’s ‘new
and improved procedures’ within the West Detention Centre.
A & D now run Court Cells! The new procedures
that are in place are designed to harass and break
a prisoner’s will and self-esteem. First off, the prisoners are patted down, shoes off, then their personal property is searched (ie: for contraband). If
the searching officers do not like you, then your
personal mail, pictures or personal hygiene suddenly, is no longer there - including Canteen!
At suppertime the officers line the prisoners up
against the wall and give each one a cup and a
plastic spoon which has to be returned! If not
turned in - Lockup!
Come morning time, the officers only let out 2
prisoners to serve the rest a bag breakfast which
consists of a children’s box of cereal, 2 slices of
bread (not toast), a bag of milk, a cup of juice (the
kind you serve your child in daycare), a little container of jam, one cup and spoon - that is breakfast. Then the doors are unlocked so that the little
sheep can be herded to the bigger cages where
they sit till the wheels of justice turn.
The West has now taken it to a new level of weirdness, the remote control for the TV set is now encased in a metal guard that is welded to the table.
They are now doing this throughout the whole
institution. Now we must wait for an officer to
come by and ask him/her to change the channel.
Hopefully nobody pisses him/her off and they are
not feeling pissed, if so - we all pay! Totally demeaning and degrading!
I feel this is totally stepping back in rehabilitation.
Are we not adults?
One day, those that read this may have a situation
where they run afoul of the law and end up in here.
Then and only then will they actually feel and see
how the ‘other people’ are treated.
Society complains about violent crime and criminals. We are at our Keeper’s whim totally. Look at
how they treat us in here and remember - we are
not convicted of any crime but are treated like
we’re guilty. Already now, 5 people will be released,
how does that make you feel?
Till the next ‘New Procedure’,
Forgotten Warrior
My name is Craig. I was born in Calgary, Alberta
with a good home and had a good life growing up.
At the young age of 17, I knew that I was gay. For
the first few years I did not tell anyone until I was
ready. I told my family that I was seeing someone
and it was a guy. They took it well. After six years
of a close relationship- it ended and we both went
our own ways.
About a month after, I started drinking and going
out every night. Then the law caught up to me. I
found myself in Saint John Jail for cheque fraud. I
wanted to get my blood work done so I had an HIV
test and in December of 2005 it came back +. I
was so upset, I didn’t know what to do.
Public Health had someone to come in and talk to
me about HIV/AIDS and what I could do to live a
normal healthy life.
Then I was moved to a Federal prison where I
found out about PASAN on a board by the phone. I
wanted to call so I did and now I find that I’m not
We need to do more as inmates to educate one
another on HIV/AIDS in prisons and to fight for our
Prison Hanging Was Big Surprise,
Ex-inmate Says
A former inmate at the Vancouver Island Regional
Correctional Centre said he was shocked when
Steven Michel Miller, the man who had the cell
next to his, hanged himself in 2004 and later died
in hospital.
"We had no idea he was going to do anything like
that," said William Barrett. "It came as a big surprise to everyone."
Barrett was testifying Tuesday at a coroner's inquest into Miller's death at age 35. The proceedings, in front of a five-person jury, began Monday
and are expected to wrap up today at the Western
Communities courthouse.
Barrett said he and Miller developed a friendship in
the months their cells were side-by-side. He described Miller as "good people.
"We played cards all the time," Barrett said. "He
was my neighbour. We were pretty close."
He said Miller had been upset on June 23, 2004,
the day he hanged himself, over restrictions on his
phone calls due to rule violations. There was a loud
argument between Miller and a corrections officer
about the phone issue, Barrett said.
The inquest heard earlier that Miller wanted his
phone privileges to try to deal with his family situation. The province had taken away his common-law
wife's children and she had become involved with
another man.
Barrett said he did not know if Miller was especially
depressed, but added that a majority of prisoners
feel some level of depression at times.
"You're in jail anyway," he said. "It's not a nice
Still, Miller was within weeks of his release date,
Barrett said. "That's why I can't understand why
this happened."
The inquest also heard testimony that the sheets
Miller used to hang himself were suspended from
horizontal bars in his cell. The bars were set
against Plexiglas and it was thought that nothing
could be pushed between the two surfaces.
It had been several years since a suicide happened
at the jail. In that case, an inmate was found hanging from a shower nozzle.
Outside the inquest room, lawyer Richard Neary
said he was especially interested in finding out how
information on prisoners, including reports from
other institutions, are handled and co-ordinated by
prison staff. Neary is representing Miller's mother,
Diane Brown, who travelled from Kingston, Ont., to
be at the inquest.
Once the inquest is complete, the jury will deliberate on recommendations aimed at preventing a
similar death. It will not determine blame.
Jeff Bell
Times Colonist
April 26, 2006
Criminologists Fear Private Prison Boom
OTTAWA - Leading criminologists say Conservative
plans to get tougher on crime could result in superjails run for profit by private companies eager to
cash in on those plans.
They're watching for details as Parliament resumes
Monday on how the new government would pay for
one of its top priorities: a justice strategy that experts agree would dramatically spike demand for
costly prison space.
"Either they'll spend a ridiculous, unsubstantiated
amount of money on this or, more likely, they'll
move to a more private model of corrections," says
Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in B.C.
"And that has another set of problems."
Dilemmas include the thorny ethical question of
whether corporations that profit from having full
cell blocks should be charged with caring for violent
inmates. Critics point out the obvious absence of
any business incentive to lower rates of repeat
The U.S. experience with private prisons suggests
higher rates of return to jail, more in-custody incidents, more escapes and higher staff turnover, says
Anthony Doob, a criminologist at the University of
Incarceration rates have quadrupled south of the
border since the mid-1970s. There are now more
than two million Americans behind bars, compared
to about 12,000 federal prisoners in Canada,
largely due to tougher U.S. sentencing and parole
laws - the very kind of crackdown now proposed by
the Tories.
More troubling, criminologists say, is the lack of
proof that jailing more people for longer terms
increases public safety.
"(The Conservatives) have not been able to give
one shred of decent evidence to support the claim
that it will make our communities safer," Boyd said
in an interview.
"Sentences are already pretty tough for serious
crime. It's one of the few areas of public policy
where science consistently ... has taken a back seat
to just blind faith and politics."
Melisa Leclerc, spokeswoman for Public Safety
Minister Stockwell Day, stressed that "a small
group of offenders are responsible for a large
amount of crime.
"When those persons have reduced opportunity to
continue their criminal ways, less crime occurs and
that means significant savings in policing and court
time. It also means fewer victims, which for us is a
cost worth measuring."
Still, the Conservatives intend to act "in a fiscally
responsible way," she said.
As for the prospect of private prisons: "We have
never advocated that," Leclerc said.
Yet the question remains: Is more time behind bars
the best way to lower crime?
Research in the U.S. suggests not, says Jeremy
Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal
Justice in New York City.
Rates of violent crime in America have fallen to
record lows since 1992, he said. But a huge surge
in public spending on imprisonment - to $58 billion
a year from $9 billion in 1982 - has not been the
driving force, he says.
"Researchers who've looked at this say maybe 20
or 25 per cent of the decline in violence can be
attributed to the significant increase in incarceration. There are other factors that contribute threequarters of the explanation."
These include more police resources, drug treatment programs and crime prevention efforts.
Leclerc says the Tories plan a balanced approach.
"We also intend to invest in effective crime prevention."
Support for tougher sentencing is not limited to the
Conservatives. The Liberals and NDP jumped, to a
lesser extent, on the crackdown bandwagon during
the last election. Both parties called for more and
longer mandatory minimum sentences for gun
The message played well to a public horrified by a
recent spate of largely gang-related slayings in
Liberals and New Democrats now say the Tories
must dilute their platform if they want opposition
support in a very divided Parliament.
Conservatives are calling for automatic sentences of
up to 10 years for certain gun crimes. But that's
just one aspect of a Tory justice strategy that could
trigger court challenges and send costs soaring.
Doob cites a proposal to end statutory release - the
policy that gives federal inmates parole after twothirds of their sentence unless they're shown to be
too dangerous.
Instead, the Tories say prisoners should earn parole
through good behaviour and rehabilitation.
Doob predicts that parole officials would be reluctant to risk freeing many of them. "Those folks are
going to sit until warrant expiry, just like Karla
That generally costs the state much of its authority
to supervise an inmate's social reintegration to
lessen the chance of reoffence, he added.
"That makes no correctional sense."
Moreover, it costs about $86,400 a year to house
an inmate, Doob said. Expenses swiftly rise whenever terms are extended.
Billions of dollars more would be needed to add
prison space, Doob says, if the Conservatives
swelled inmate ranks through other proposed
- Mandatory minimum prison terms for drug traffickers.
- Ending house arrest for certain violent and sexual
offences, major drug crimes and weapons offences.
- Mandatory consecutive sentences (instead of
concurrent terms) for select multiple violent or
sexual offences.
Inmates Make Heroic Rescue
Pull driver to safety before truck explodes
Prisoners' actions saved him, OPP says
DORSET, Ont.—Two prison inmates are being
hailed as heroes for climbing down a steep cliff to
pull a man away from a burning truck seconds
before it exploded yesterday.
"Their heroic actions definitely saved him from even
more serious injury or even death," said Const.
Harry Rawluk of the Ontario Provincial Police in
John Clayton, 56, of Dorset was thrown from his
pickup truck as it plunged down a 20-metre cliff
near the Dorset Scenic Tower, where a group of
five inmates from the Beaver Creek Institution in
Gravenhurst were on a work party.
All five inmates and their supervisor ran to the edge
of the cliff and saw that Clayton was lying close to
the burning truck near the bottom of the cliff.
Two of the inmates clambered down and pulled the
driver away.
"Seconds later the truck was rocked by an explosion,'' said Rawluk, adding that the explosion reduced the truck to a burned-out shell.
The inmates were not hurt in the explosion and
one of them helped emergency service personnel
carry Clayton out on a stretcher across the rugged
landscape to an all-terrain vehicle that transported
him to the road. Clayton was later airlifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre with serious, but
non-life threatening chest injuries.
"I'm very proud of what they all did today," said
Peter White, warden of the 200-inmate minimumsecurity prison 65 kilometres southwest of Dorset.
The other three inmates and their supervisor assisted emergency personnel with ropes and fire
hoses, White said.
He would not identify any of the inmates, saying
the institution has yet to completely review the
incident. He said it's not likely the inmates will
receive reduced sentences for their actions.
"What they did was a very human thing and while
we recognize their good works, our review of their
progress isn't based on a spontaneous action."
Roberta Avery
Toronto Star
Jun. 14, 2006
"This is going to put pressure on the government to
privatize, in large part, because . . . then they don't
have to put up the capital," Doob said. "I think
they're going to privatize in the American way.
"It's going to be real trouble."
Sue Bailey
Canadian Press
Apr. 2, 2006
Firm, Ontario Dispute Jail Savings
Prisoners and taxpayers are better served when
jails are run publicly, Ontario's corrections minister
said Friday despite a company's claims that millions
of taxpayer dollars will be lost when Canada's only
privately run prison is returned to the province.
Utah-based Management and Training Corp.,
which has run the Penetanguishene prison since
May 2001, said taxpayers would have saved $11
million if its contract with the province was extended past the current deal's November expiry.
The company also said it cost the province $23
million less to have the facility run privately over the
past five years.
But Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter
insists prisoner health care, security and rehabilitation were all lacking at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene compared to a
virtually identical jail run by public workers.
"We felt that the people of Ontario would be better
served by bringing it back into the public service,
where we can get the kind of outcomes that we as
a government feel we should be getting," Kwinter
In a five-year study, the Penetanguishene facility
was compared to the Central East Correctional
Centre in Kawartha Lakes, which is nearly identical
in design and houses the same 1,200-inmate population.
Kwinter said the study showed offenders were
better treated by the public service and were less
likely to reoffend.
Kwinter's decision not to renew the contract with
Management and Training Corp. effectively ends a
provincial experiment into the privatization of prisons, the first of its kind in Canada.
Quebec has flirted with the idea but political officials in that province have expressed doubts as to
whether private companies can offer adequate
services to prisoners and security to the public.
Kwinter wouldn't elaborate on past problems at
Penetanguishene. However, two years ago, a review
of staffing levels there indicated chronic understaffing and a lack of adequate supervision.
Among security concerns was an August 2002 riot
in which nearly 100 inmates almost escaped using
a battering ram, according to the report.
Kwinter acknowledged it was cheaper to run the
prison privately. But he attributed the savings to the
contract drawn up by the previous Conservative
government in Ontario that allowed the company to
employ 94 fewer people than Kawartha Lakes,
which the minister said resulted in lower-quality
"The contract was flawed and we had two-tier
correctional delivery," Kwinter said.
The company, which runs jails in the United States
and Australia, denies the smaller workforce impacted services.
"We do not agree there was any evidence to support a change that will cost Ontario taxpayers
millions of dollars each year," said Scott Marquardt,
president of Management and Training Corp. Canada.
Kwinter said the company was fully compliant
according to its contract. But he said there were
plenty of situations where understaffing led to sub-
standard services.
For example, Kwinter said there are nine people at
Kawartha Lakes who work to follow up with inmates after they leave prison so they can reintegrate into society. Penetanguishene only had one
staff member doing such work, Kwinter said.
New Democrat critic Peter Kormos said it's a good
thing the prison is being returned to public hands.
But he also said it provides evidence that the government shouldn't be looking to private companies
to run anything from hospitals to highway maintenance.
"When you are dealing with public safety . . . the
existence of a middle man who is going to suck
money out of the process by way of profits inevitably puts the public at risk," Kormos said.
Conservative Leader John Tory, however, said the
government shouldn't shut the cell door on privatizations of prison operations.
"I don't think we should rule it out," Tory said.
Toronto Star - Canadian Press
Apr. 28, 2006
Super-jail for Youth Opposed
Don't build the Brampton super-jail for young people.
That was the message from activists holding a quiet
vigil at the Peace Garden in Nathan Phillips Square
yesterday to mark the second anniversary of the
release of findings from the David Meffe inquest.
"The jury clearly recommended no super-jail. It's
not the way to go," said Cheryl Milne, a lawyer with
Justice for Children and Youth. "We're really dismayed at the failure to look at smaller facilities."
Meffe was 16 when he hanged himself on Oct. 1,
2002, by attaching his bedsheet to a metal bar
fixed on his bunk at the Toronto Youth Assessment
Centre. The 130-bed Etobicoke facility was closed
in June 2004.
Meffe was not convicted of any violent crime. He
was facing charges of stealing cheques from family
While his family did not attend yesterday's memorial, his mother issued a statement urging the province to adopt the jury recommendations.
"Young people are still at risk," says Filippa Meffe.
"Our family will never be the same. The pain of
losing our beloved David will never diminish. Please
do not allow David's death to have been in vain."
Milne pointed out that having smaller facilities
closer to the community is better than one centre in
Brampton, far from public transit.
Currently, some Toronto youth are housed in Hamilton and Cobourg.
James Ip, a spokesperson for Mary Anne Chambers, minister for children and youth services, said
the 192-bed Brampton facility is designed with
youth in mind. They would be housed in individual
compounds in campus-style grounds.
Construction on the jail, which is scheduled to open
in 2008, should begin later this year.
Vanessa Lu
Toronto Star
Apr. 11, 2006
Transsexuals Can Choose
Gender of Strip-search Officer
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled
that transsexuals who are strip-searched by police
have the right to choose between male or female
officers or both to perform the act.
The ruling stems from a complaint by a preoperative transsexual woman who was stripsearched by male Peel Region police officers on
several occasions.
The complainant asked to have each search performed by female officers, but was denied each
Police policy at the time was for a male officer to
conduct the search because the complainant had
not yet had sex reassignment surgery.
The tribunal also says officers cannot "opt out" of
strip-searching transsexuals unless they believe they
have significant rights of their own to protect.
Peel police have also been ordered to produce a
training video on transsexuality for its force.
Canadian Press
May 24, 2006
Press Release: "New poll finds 62% of Canadians don't share the Harper government's approach to crime reduction"
Ottawa (May 11, 2006) - A new poll commissioned
by the 340,000-member National Union of Public
and General Employees (NUPGE) indicates that
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is out of sync with
the views of a strong majority of Canadians on the
best approach to lowering the country's crime rate.
By a wide margin, Canadians say the best way to
reduce crime is to attack its root causes through
better education, social programs and job training.
A total of 62% of respondents say focusing on the
social and economic problems that breed crime is a
better approach than building more prisons and
hiring more police and judges (23%). In Quebec,
68% of respondents agree this is the best approach
to lowering the crime rate (vs. 17%).
The NUPGE-sponsored national poll comes as MPs
prepare to debate new legislative measures introduced by the Harper Conservatives to impose mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain crimes
and to eliminate conditional sentences for a long list
of crimes.
The government has acknowledged that more
prisons will be required as the number of inmates
rise in response to the new anti-crime program.
The government has also committed $161 million
in new spending to hire 1,000 new RCMP officers
and federal prosecutors.
"Contrary to the government's approach, more
prisons, police and prosecutors are not the solutions
most Canadians prefer," says James Clancy,
NUPGE national president. "The majority of Canadians simply don't share the Harper government's
lock-em-up mentality."
"The Conservative plan would be more in tune with
Canadians' views if it focused more on crime prevention coupled with more investment in staffing
levels, training, and programs in provincial jails and
communities," says Clancy.
AUGUST 8-13, 2006
The Prisoners' Justice Action Committee came together after Prisoners' Justice Day 2004 to build on
the growing prisoners' movement in Toronto. Our
goals were to raise awareness of prisoners' rights
issues through our annual Prisoners' Justice Film
Festival film festival, to help launch campaigns
around current issues of prisoners rights, and to see
Prisoners' Justice Day expand to a series of events
along side the annual vigil at the Don Jail.
August 10th 2006 is the 31st annual Prisoner’s
Justice Day, and the Prisoner’s Justice Action Committee has planned a week of events.
A Brief History …
Since 1975, August 10th has been the day officially
set aside for prisoners and their supporters to honour the memory of those who have died unnatural
deaths in prison.
On August 10th, 1974, Eddie Nalon bled to death
in a solitary confinement unit at Millhaven Maximum Security Prison near Kingston, Ontario when
the emergency call button in his cell failed to work.
An inquest later found that the call buttons in that
unit had been deactivated by the guards.
Prisoners at Millhaven marked the anniversary of
Eddie's death by fasting and refusing to work.
By May 1976, the call buttons had not yet been
repaired. Bobby Landers was the next to die in one
of those cells. With no way to call for help, all he
could do was scribble a note that described the
symptoms of a heart attack. The call for national
support went out and Prisoners' Justice Day began.
What started as a one-time event behind the walls
of Millhaven Prison has become an international
day of solidarity. On this day, prisoners around the
world fast, refuse to work, and remain in their cells
while supporters organize community events to
draw public attention to the conditions inside prisons.
The week begins Tuesday August 8th with a press
conference launch featuring our guest speaker
Patricia Monture-Angus, a Mohawk woman, a
lawyer, and currently a professor of Native Studies
at the University of Saskatchewan. This will be
followed by the first in our series of workshops,
‘Penal Abolition - An Overview’.
Wed. August 9th we present our second workshop,
Prison Activism 101.
Thur. August 10th we will hold our annual vigil
outside of the Don Jail in Toronto, featuring exprisoners, community activists and performers and
an open mic.
Fri. August 11th there will be a fundraising party.
co-hosted by the fine folks from Isis Entertainment
who held our successful Prisoners' Justice Film Festival party.
Sat. August 12th there are events held in conjunction with Prisoners Justice Week by the 81 Reasons
Campaign to stop the building of a youth super jail
Thursday August 10th, 6:30 pm.
Trout Lake Park (15th & Victoria), East Vancouver.
Claire Culhane Memorial Bench (SE Corner)
Speakers include ex-prisoners, prisoners rights
activists, plus poets and performers.
Everyone Welcome. Rain or Shine.
Stark Raven Radio, Summer 2006
Stark Raven: A Closer look at Prisons
Mon. July 3rd, 7-8 pm: Special report from Camp
Hope & on National Security Certificates
Mon. July 10th, 7-8 pm: Sylvia Federici on the
Death Penalty
Mon. July 17th, 7-8 pm: Trans Folk in Prison
Mon. August 7th, 7-8 pm: Prison Justice Day
Mon. August 14th, 7-8 pm: Highlights From
Prison Justice Memorial Rally
Mon. August 21st, 7-8 pm: TBA
Tune into Stark Raven on Vancouver Co-op Radio,
102.7FM, Vancouver, BC -
Wed. August 23, 5pm
Film Screening: Cruel and Unusual
Tinseltown Cinemas, 88 East Pender, Vancouver
Stark Raven has a new email list -- receive a weekly
email of what is coming up on the next show & a
digest recent news. To join, email us [email protected]
Sun. August 13th an event by ‘No One Is Illegal’ to
protest the increasing incarceration of new immigrants and other People of Colour.
Film screenings in local prisons
Actions against Police Brutality
Further details to be announced.
Contact Connor or Giselle at:
1-866-224-9978 or collect at 416-920-9567
Write to us c/o PASAN #500-489 College St.
Toronto, ON, M6G 1A5
Prisoners’ Justice Day is …
… August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as
a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of
solidarity to remember those who have died
unnecessarily -- victims of murder, suicide and
… the day when organizations and individuals in
the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship
services and other events in common resistance
with prisoners.
… the day to raise issue with the fact that a very
high rate of women are in prison for protecting
themselves against their abusers. This makes it
obvious that the legal system does not protect
women who suffer violence at the hands of their
… is the day to remember that there are a
disproportionate number of Natives, AfricanCanadians and other minorities and marginalized
people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of
oppression against struggles of recognition and selfdetermination.
… the day to raise public awareness of the
demands made by prisoners to change the criminal
justice system and the brutal and inhumane
conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.
… the day to oppose prison violence, police
violence, and violence against women and children.
… the day to publicize that, in their fight for
freedom and equality, the actions of many political
prisoners have been criminalized by government. As
a result, there are false claims that there are no
political prisoners in north american prisons.
… the day to raise public awareness of the
economic and social costs of a system of criminal
justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever
to be social justice, it will only come about using a
model of healing justice, connecting people to the
crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for
their actions.
… the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS
education, prevention and treatment in prison.
… the day to remind people that the criminal
justice system and the psychiatric system are
mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to
control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by
staff committed in the name of treatment.
Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain
August 10, 2006 marks 31 years of
Prisoners' Justice Day
Prisoners’ Justice Day Committee
PO Box 78005, 1755 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC, V5N 5W1
[email protected]
Prison Justice Day becomes International
Day of Solidarity with Prisoners
In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in
recognition of August 10th, the following statement
would be read on the Paris radio station FrequenceLibre.
Why not have on August 10 an international day of
solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,
For here or elsewhere, prison kills,
Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff
in West Germany,
Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in
Ireland, Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so
many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre
Cotte or 16 years like Youssef,
Whether they are considered political or common
prisoners, PRISON KILLS!
By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany,
England and the United States would join this day
of peaceful protest.
If I Could Turn Back In Time
Many years went by
And still I sit and cry
Who the hell am I?
I should have been the one to have died
But yet, they took my friends
I know I’ll see them in the END
Here I am 42. Still doing Time
For the drugs, I did the crime
When will I learn
It ain’t worth the burn
And the loneliness and shame
Plus feeling, all the Pain.
I’m getting too Old for THAT
There’s no use looking BACK
For my Past Life is Gone.
I’ve learned and moved on.
Life is worth so much more
Than throwing it out the door
There’s so much love to give
This is my life. I want to live
If I could Turn Back In Time
I would change my life just to make you mine
I’d never give up on you
For you, my love for you is True
I’ll always be with you my love
Until the lord calls us from above
Deep in my heart I call
For you, I’d take a DARE
I’d fly across the Bluest Sky
Just to keep you by my side
I’d say the sexiest line
Just to make you mine
Can’t you see,
What you do for me?
My love 4 you is True & Strong
With me you can’t go wrong
Kathy Polchies-Roberts
I love to dream
For when I do
I’m sure to dream
Of only you
In my dreams
There is so much
Your lips to kiss
Your body to touch
But when I awake
It’s sadness I feel
For all I’ve touched
Was not real
Anne Boardmore
7th Heaven
7th Heaven
When I see their smilin’ faces
Smilin’ back at me
7th Heaven
I know there’s no greater feeling
Than the love of a family
Where can you go
When the world don’t treat you right
The answer is home
That’s the one place you’ll find
7th Heaven
Mmm, 7th Heaven
Billy Whitedeer
I am locked away in a pain filled prison
Composed of my own body
A cell that allows me 2 see out
Through the windows of my own eyes
But if 4 brief moments,
Then I’m closed within again
In this prison, nothing else matters!
In reaching in 2 the darkness
From which all life comes!
In 2 which all life goes!
Along with pain!
And fear and loneliness, no sense of time
Hope and despair walk hand in hand
Forgotten Warrior
Getto Kid
Comin’ from where I’m from
It was hard to be a punk
Growing up in the getto
If you were a rat, you stunk
It was hard to be soft when
Everyone around you was gangster
And if you ran from a beef
You were labelled a wangster
You had to have heart and fight
Win or lose, it didn’t matter
And you had to slang crack on the corner
To make your pocket fatter
You had no choice but
To live by the code
If you went the other way
It was a long hard road
So prison was something
A ‘getto kid’ looked forward to
And in this dark place there’s no such thing
As the sky being ‘blue’
Dana Melkert
1% = Solidarity
Nowadays it seems quite rare
I’m a dying breed, ‘tis unfair
To all who are down 4 the cause
Why? Can we not rewind? Too late to pause…
Death before dishonour, that is my vow
1% always & 4 ever staying strong, now
Hold your head up, keep it strong
A true soldier’s road to heaven is long
I see your soul behind those eyes
Remain solid, and remember…
Zero Compromise
Helenann Young
People vanish, people die
People laugh and people cry
Some give up, some will try
Some say ‘Hi’ while some say ‘Bye’
Others are honest, others may lie
Others may leave you …
But never will I !
Travis ‘Big Dog’ Gaeler
Everything I Ever Needed
I’m so crazy in love with you right now
I’m thinking so reckless
I’m so into you right now
I’ve forgot about all of my Ex’sss
You’re always on my mind
Which makes it so reckless
I’d rather have your hicky on my neck
Than a precious gold necklace
Everything I ever needed in a man
I can see it in you
There in nowhere else I would rather be
Than be with you
You’re sweet, smart, sexy
Just to name a few
Of all the wonderful things
That I admire in you
You are everything
The type of man I always wanted
I made that wish a long time ago
And it’s finally been granted
You’re on my mind
Before the day is even started
And without you in my dreams
They seem so haunted
At times I get so stressed
At times I get blue
But all of that changes
When I think about you
The only thing I want
And hope for you to do
It’s to just stick by me
And I will stick by you
Melanie Hince
You Are Not Alone...
(cont. from CC #41)
committed suicide by hanging himself. I then told
the Chaplain that I did not believe that, that I believed that my son had been murdered and that I
On March 28th, 2003, Ronnie was transferred to believed that it had something to do with the sexual
Collins Bay, a medium security prison in Kingston. assault complaint Ronnie had laid. This is where my
Collins Bay is wildly known for it's reputation and is nightmare begins.
also referred to as "Gladiator School". The motto I was inconsolable, devastated, heartbroken, out of
here at gladiator school is "survival of the fittest" my mind with grief. Had I been more focused perwhatever that may mean. Here inmates are pitted haps I would have seen what was actually going on.
against each other like animals, hence the nick- The coroner, Dr. Steven Hinton made a phone call
name of the prison.
to me asking for more information about the inciOn the 16th of April, twelve days after entering dent that had occurred at Whitby Jail when he took
Collins Bay, Ronnie laid a sexual assault complaint over the infirmary. Another call followed from Cindy
against two of the guards. One was male, one was Harrington, an official at Collins Bay. She inquired
female. It took six days before Ronnie's complaint as to how I was going to bury my son, and informed
was received and Collins Bay staff did not respond me that Corrections Canada would pay for the
until the 22nd of June, almost 2 and a half months funeral if I had it in Kingston, as they have a conlater. Strangely enough the first guard was not tract with Robert Reid Funeral Service. My son and
spoken to until the 4th of June and the second was most of his friends and family are from the Oshawa
not spoken to until the 21st of June.
area, so I felt it would be more appropriate to have
When Ronnie entered Collins Bay, he was informed the funeral there, so I brought him home.
that his personal belongings had to be sent in within The viewing of the body was on July 20th, 2003. I
the next 30 days. I immediately sent in my son’s stood there at his casket, frozen, staring at the son
belongings. I also sent along a birthday card for that was once my Ronnie. His hands were black, his
Ron's 22nd, which they would not give to him be- face was blotched with scattered bruising. I had to
cause I didn't put on a return address.
look... I raised his head, a red line extended the
On June 28th I attended a social at Collins Bay. I circumference of his neck, the diameter as thin as a
noticed that my son was not wearing his own wire. People... there were so many people, it was
clothes. I commented and he told me that he still like a fog, clouded. People telling me of Ronnie's
had not received his belongings. My son was in a appearance and the marks on him. I never believed
wonderful mood that day despite it all and was very from the moment the police came to my door that
excited about his upcoming release. He informed my son had taken his own life, with only three
me that he had been taking correspondence months left to serve. He had a zest for life!
courses to get his high school diploma. Despite his My mother’s instinct told me to ask for a second
situation and all that had happened in the last few autopsy because I believed that he was murdered. I
years, Ronnie still had that old smile on his face! spoke with Graham Stewart, the funeral director
Ronnie and I both believed he was on the right from Oshawa Funeral Services about a second
track to turning his life around.
autopsy and he said that he didn't think that it
The last time I spoke to my son was on July 13th. would be a problem. He said that he would have to
He called me at 6:10pm, sounding very distraught. contact Kingston to get permission. I received a call
He was very adamant that he wanted to go back to from Rema Abdo, who is with the pen squad investiMillhaven, despite the fact that Millhaven is a maxi- gating Ronnie’s death, on the day of the funeral,
mum security prison. He said that someone had which was July 21st, 2003. She reassured me that
planted a "shank" in his cell, inside a broom. They they had 36 photos and plenty of evidence and that
threw him in the hole. He told me that he had been a second autopsy was not required. She told me to
in there for 5 days now and that they were not go ahead with the cremation as it was all well documaking life very easy for him there. He just wanted mented.
to go back to Millhaven. I could tell that something Graham Stewart informed me that Kingston had
was very wrong.
denied my request for a second autopsy and that I
He asked to talk to my oldest son, Norman. They had two days to decide what to do with the body.
talked about the possibility of Norman getting That is when I let Ronnie go and had him cremated.
Ronnie a job at the factory he was working at in That was the biggest mistake of my life... because if
Brighton. Norman was very positive about the possi- I had not cremated him I would have had the evibility due to the fact that the factory was expand- dence to prove his murder.
ing. Ron then went on to tell Norman that they The next day I received a letter from Cindy Harringwere giving him "bug juice" while he was in the ton. She stated that they contacted Robert Reid
Funeral Home and asked that Collins Bay be billed
On July 15th, Ron was to attend a parole review. for the transportation of Ronnie's body. She also
He awaited the response. I asked him to call me at stated in the same letter that Ronnie did not have
6:00 on the 15th to let me know the outcome. Ron sufficient funds in his account to pay for the transalways called when he said he would. At 4:15am, portation of the body, and that Collins Bay would
on July 16th, 2003, I awoke to a knock on my door. pay the remainder. There were no condolences
There were two officers from the Brighton detach- offered in this letter. Only one guard, a few memment at my doorstep. They informed me that my bers of the staff, most that had been transferred
son was dead. I dropped to my knees, "not Ronnie!" from Millhaven, and many inmates offered condoCause of death was asphyxiation. I was handed a lences. However, no memorial was held for my son.
number to call the chaplain at Collins Bay. The My son was fully clothed on arrival at Kingston
Chaplain told me that Ronnie was believed to have General Hospital prior to the funeral. For some
reason, my son was then sent to Robert Reid Funeral Home, unbeknownst to me. He was then
transported from there to Oshawa Funeral Services,
arriving naked. The documentation at Kingston
General had indicated that Ronnie had all of his
jewelry, nipple piercings, eyebrow piercing, and
earrings. He arrived clothed in a pair of blue jeans,
white T-shirt and white socks. Robert Reid Funeral
Home has him arriving in cutoff shorts, black underwear and white socks. They also state that he had
two earrings, one nipple ring and one eyebrow ring.
Oshawa funeral service documents none of the
above, and state that they received him naked!
I became angry, what kind of system are our loved
ones being subjected to? I contacted activists, seeking justice. I started conversing with a gentleman by
the name of Steve Sullivan, from Victims of Crime.
He has helped me immensely. I was denied my
son’s personal records for twenty years, they say
because Ron was not here to give permission...? and
with being denied we are now advocating to change
the law. I believe that a deceased person's next of
kin should be entitled to their personal information
Unless, they have something to hide??
(to be continued in the next issue)
Charlene Barker
This Trip’s Insane
When I think about this trip
It’s hard to explain
All this sorrow
All the pain
There’s nothing to venture
Nothing to gain
Everyday is boring
Monotonous & the same
I wish sexy women were here
I’d run some game
Our loneliness has crept in
And cramped my brain
CSC assassinates my character
Again & again
They criticize, they lie
They always complain
They say I’m a terrible man
That’s what they claim
But I don’t study their shit
With my head hung in shame
It’s only made me stronger knowin’
They can’t extinguish my spirit’s flame
So kiss my hairy ass CSC
Cool I will remain
It’s you evil bastards
That should walk in chains
D. Horne
the safeguards within prisons
Tattooing is a popular art form that many men and
women in prison participate in. If the work is done
safely, by a skilled artist who values both their art
and the health of their customers, tattooing is an
activity that can give a lot of happiness and pride to
the artist and customer alike. However, if
proper precautions are not followed, tattooing can be a high risk for the
spread of diseases like Hepatitis C
and HIV.
to sharpen them is with a small piece of sandpaper
stuck to your fan, or by hand using slow pull-away
and turn motions. The needle should be razor
sharp - the shorter the point, the longer the needle
will stay sharp. The artist should also wear latex
If you have to boil your equipment, do so for 15
minutes, with bleach if you have it. The best system I have found is to make everything brand new
each time and boil it, and afterwards clean it with
alcohol and let the person who got the work done
keep the works. By making the customer responsible for their own personal works, they can get more
work done later (if the piece isn't finished yet) and
be positive that no one else has used them.
Everyone likes to get tattoos in prison, and
that's good because a lot of the best artists
are in prison - artists that take pride in
their work, and do mega-detail!
Take your time when looking for a tattoo, and in
picking an artist to do it for you. If you can, try to
see the artist in action first, and watch what he or
she does. This can really help you make good
In here it's very hard to ensure that the equipment
(needles, shaft, ink) is clean. The only way to be
sure is to have the tattoo artist make the new
needle in front of you.
When doing a tattoo, everything the artist uses
should be brand new. To make sure of this, the
artist that you choose should be able to
make up everything in front of you - the
needle, shaft for the ink, and tip for the
needle. For this, the tattoo artist needs to be
adept at making the equipment fast. If the artist
can't make the needle in front of you, tell him or
her to drift. Even these precautions cannot guarantee a safe tattoo.
A simple pen or lighter can be used for a tip and
shaft. A pack of guitar strings can make endless
needles for the price of a few dollars. An easy way
The tattooist should not break through all the layers of skin. If they do it can result in infection and
heavy scarring. There will always be a little scarring
- remember, you're punching millions of holes to
make a piece, but the ink will cover that. The
heavy scarring I'm talking about - which seems to
be abundant in prison - is the deep, rutted scarring.
You can run your finger lightly over it and feel the
indentations left from some butcher calling themselves a tattoo artist. Any butcher can follow a
bunch of lines stencilled on someone's skin - the art
comes from the shading, and every tattoo
artist has a unique shade. That's the addiction. Because of this, once you've been
around a while and seen a lot of work, you
should be able to tell who did it - and that's
without a signature!
Be aware of cross contamination. This
means that anything that comes into contact with a used needle, dirty rag, blood,
etc., is contaminated. For example, if the
tattoo gun cord comes into contact with
blood during a tattoo it is considered contaminated. This could be a risk to the next
client receiving a tattoo if it comes into
contact with their open tattoo sores. As
much as possible the tattooist should protect against cross contamination by using
non-microwaveable plastic wrap to cover
equipment and working surfaces.
When you're entering a prison, take your
time before getting tattooed. Too many
people want to hurry, hurry, hurry. Well,
don't rush, because the people who do only
end up later looking for a good artist to
cover up the hurry, hurry crap.
The artist should make sure that the art
work the person wants is what they will
get. If you're getting a tattoo, make sure
you check out as much of the artist's work as possible to make sure he or she knows what they're
tion, and it doesn't do a lot of good for the tattoo
either. Make sure that a new toothpaste cap is
used, or styrofoam cup or whatever, and that it's
cleaned with alcohol.
You trust your life on the ink you use. Just because
someone tells you the ink they're using is brand
new doesn't mean anything, because you can't see
the HIV virus or Hep C virus. You can't tell by
looking if the ink is clean or not.
After you've finished a tattoo, you have medical
waste. After the job is done, everything you used is
waste and should be treated as such. The needle,
tube or shaft that the needle goes in, the ink, the
ink cap, the gloves, and the new towel that you had
at the start which is now black, should be disposed
of. Don't ever re-use any of the stuff. You
can't take it to health care, so you have to throw it
in the garbage.
Getting ink is a big problem within prison. CSC
banned ink in their efforts to curb tattooing practices. This makes it hard to get. You can make
your own ink by burning paper and mixing it with
water to make a thick paste - then away you go!
The artist should mix the ink in front of you, so you
know it's disease free.
The standard practice for the serious tattoo artist is
to obtain a sealed bottle of ink from somewhere
(use your imagination!) and use that. Reusing or
sharing ink is very high risk for disease
transmission (Hep C and HIV)!
When using a home-made prison tattoo gun, make
sure that the area you're working on is flat and
that you're holding the gun straight on. This will
make the ink flow to the spot you're working on
and stay there until you wipe it off. Never hold
your gun on a tilt. This causes blotching and infec-
Make sure you cut the point off the needle and
bend it up before you throw it or flush it. This will
make sure the garbage person or whoever won't
accidentally get stuck by it. This way you know for
sure that you're not spreading any diseases. The
gloves and rags should also be tossed or flushed
and never reused.
Written by Wm. Danks
Art by Tim Felfoldi
Joyceville Penitentiary, Kingston, ON
Be kind to your veins, they’re the only ones you’ve got! Veins become leaky, infected and will eventually
collapse if they don’t have time to heal between injections. You can tell a vein has collapsed when it seems
to have disappeared or you can’t draw blood from it. To help prevent your veins from becoming damaged:
¨ try to use a different injection site for each time you shoot up
¨ learn how to inject in a number of places and with either hand so you’ll be able to use the other
side if one side needs a rest
¨ save the “easy” spots for when you know you don’t have time
¨ shoot in the direction of your heart with the hole of the needle facing upwards
¨ taking oral vitamin C may help your veins repair themselves
To make sure your vein is full of blood and easier to hit, try:
¨ clenching and relaxing your fist
¨ gently rubbing or slapping the skin over the vein
¨ soak your arm in warm water
¨ squeeze your bicep with your hand
¨ pushups, pull-ups or wrist curls
¨ use a tourniquet (belt, string, rubber bands, shoelaces, etc.)
Always shoot in a vein, never an artery. To be sure you’re in the vein, pull back the plunger, if slow moving
dark red blood comes into the syringe, YOU’RE IN A VEIN. If the blood is bright red and frothy or if the
plunger is forced back by the pressure of blood, YOU’RE IN AN ARTERY – GET OUT! Untie, pull needle
out, raise the limb above your head if possible and apply pressure for 10 minutes. Also:
¨ areas that are furthest away from the heart heal the slowest and have the worst circulation (eg: feet)
¨ areas that are closest to the heart have veins that are near major arteries and nerves which can
cause serious damage if hit
¨ the veins in your arms are the safest places to shoot
¨ never inject where you feel a pulse (an artery)
¨ try to hit surface veins instead of deeper ones
¨ shoot in the direction of your heart
The veins in your upper arms and forearms are as safe as any!
DO NOT fix into your eyes, face, armpits, penis or breasts, these veins are so fragile and hard to find that
they’re not worth the risk. The same goes for veins near your belly button and inner thigh, they are too
Veins in the hands and feet are fragile and will hurt, inject slowly into these areas. Inject slowly into the
veins behind your knees also and be careful of the artery that runs next to the vein.
Hits into your jugular are very dangerous. Chunks and clots can go quickly to your brain or heart and
cause a stroke or heart attack. Your best bet is not to shoot here at all. If you must, clean the area first
with alcohol, then shoot towards the heart and come in at the smallest angle possible - 35 degrees or less.
Flag it to make sure you’re in. Go as slow as possible and don’t stand up too fast. There is no 100% safe
way to shoot in your jugular.
Germs cause abscesses including spit germs, skin germs and other people’s germs.
To avoid germs getting into your body while you’re fixing:
¨ don’t lick the bubble off the top of the point
¨ don’t lick the site before or after fixing
¨ don’t use a dirty mix like toilet water or spit (if you have to use toilet water, use the water in the
tank, not the bowl)
¨ don’t touch the filters too much
¨ avoid sharing spoons, water, filters and rigs with other people
¨ clean the site before fixing if you can with soap or alcohol
Abscesses (infected boils) begin with redness, swelling and tenderness at the injection
site and develop into an infection with a
hard, pus-filled center. They are caused by
tiny germs getting pushed under the skin by
the rig. If you notice a hard warm lump developing and can’t see a doctor, put a warm
compress on it at least 3 times a day, this
will bring blood to the area and will make it
go away or it will soften and fill up with pus.
Also keep the abscess clean with soap and
water. It may drain by itself but if you
choose to drain it yourself, ONLY USE A
CLEAN NEEDLE to poke it with. The pus
should come out easily, never squeeze it
because it will spread the infection. If you
are able to, put a dry bandage over it and
keep it clean. If you get a fever, chills, extreme fatigue or pain (especially in the groin
or armpits) that is related to the abscess,
you may have a blood infection - you probably need medical attention for this. Some
infections need antibiotics to be cleared up.
COTTON FEVER (“The Bends”)
Cotton fever happens when a piece of the
filter gets sucked into the syringe and injected into your blood. Within hours, you
develop a fever and get really sick, your
bones ache, you feel hot and cold at the
same time and you shake. The best thing to
do is to rest, eat something and cover up
with a blanket. Cotton fever usually gets
better after an hour.
Chalk Lung is caused by injecting something
that won’t mix with water. These pieces can
include talc, chalk and cornstarch (many pills
have these pieces.) Your lungs may scar
making it hard to breathe. Chalk Lung can
be prevented by filtering carefully every
Welcome to Cell Count’s resurrected Hep C page. Here we will provide information on Hep C, how you
can catch it, how to avoid it, how to live with it, get treatment, get over the treatment, get help inside and
out. The side column is a space for your voices, folks inside living with Hep C or with the risk of contracting it, to tell us about your experiences. This section will contain facts and answers to questions about
Hep C and issues specific to prisoners.
Why Hep C Info?
According to CSC’s own statistics, in 2002 3,173 federal prisoners were known to be Hep C positive,
25.2% of men and 33.7% of women. (source-Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network). We know that the
actual numbers are much higher, and similar in the provincial system. Hep C (also written as HCV for
Hepatitis C Virus) is more easily transmitted that HIV, and many of the ways you are forced to live inside,
from crowded living conditions to lack of access to materials to tattoo or inject safely, mean that prisoners
are very vulnerable to HCV infection.
What exactly is Hep C?
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus, meaning it is carried and transmitted through blood. So, you cannot
get it by kissing someone, sharing a smoke or a drink, utensils or a toilet. You can get it through sharing
razors or toothbrushes, as both of these can carry blood, as well as sharing needles, cookers and water
for injecting drugs, or tattoo equipment or inks. Once it is in your bloodstream, it attacks your liver, killing
cells and multiplying. Around 20% of folks clear the virus on their own, and of the remaining 80%, many
folks have a kind of Hep C (called a genotype) that responds to treatment well and they also clear the
virus. The treatment can be hard on your system, and so the more you know about it the better able you
are to speak to your doctor about what can be done to help with ‘side’ effects.
This column is a space for YOUR words, YOUR
stories and experiences living with Hep C, or at
risk for it. Been denied health care? Had your
treatment messed with? Forced to share needles/cookers/tattoo guns/ink?
Send us your rants and raves about healthcare,
guards mistreatment and anything else you have
seen or experienced related to prisoners and
Hep C.
Each issue we will present voices of prisoners
living with or affected by and at risk for Hepatitis C in this section, along with facts and figures
about Hep C in prison.
Hepatitis C and Prison Facts
· Studies of prisoners in the mid 1990’s
found rates of Hep C between 28 and
· Bleach does not kill Hep C, it does kill
Currently, PASAN does not receive funding to take on Hep C positive folks as clients. This means that we
aren’t able to offer all of our services, such as release funds, I.D. replacement, transit tokens and ongoing
support and counselling. We are working to change this, as we realize what a growing concern HCV is
and the need for these resources as so few other agencies can offer supports. What we can do is send
you an information package, connect over the phone for initial support and counselling and referral to
other services, and some limited advocacy around getting Hep C treatment. If you are co infected with
Hep C and HIV, you are eligible to be a PASAN client. Call Connor at PASAN for more information.
· The Hep C virus can live outside of your
Coming soon to a Cell Count near you…..
How do I know if I have Hep C? What does testing tell me? Will I get sick?
Send your questions and information requests to Connor at Cell Count.
HIV. Cleaning your rigs/tattoo equipment
etc with bleach may help reduce the
amount of the virus, but does not kill it.
body for up to 14 days depending on the
amount of blood.
· You can get Hep C from sharing
toothbrushes, nail clippers or razors with
folks infected with Hep C
· In the Federal system, barbershops are
supposed to meet the same hygiene standards as outside shops. Unfortunately,
there is still some question as to whether
or not chemicals like Barbicide kill Hep C,
as it is a disinfectant, not a bactericide or
virucide (something that kills bacteria or
· There are no stats specific to women in
prison and rates of Hep C infection or
risk, but given that more and more
women are being crammed into men's
institutions, overcrowded and sometimes
placed in seg, these unhealthy living conditions could increase the risk for Hep C
Would you like a penpal?
Send in your ad with 30 words or less.
PASAN - Cell Count
489 College St, Ste 500
Toronto, ON, M6G 1A5
Your request will be published in the next
issue of Cell Count. Because of limited space
ads will run in one issue only, resend after you
have been out for one issue.
Let us know if you would like to be
‘Anonymous’. If so, your name will be
replaced with a code #. Responses will be
sent to PASAN then forwarded on to you.
Once this initial contact has been made it
is up to the two of you to exchange your
real names & addresses.
Penpals and contacts use the service at their
own risk, and by accessing the service all users
must agree that PASAN will not be held liable
in any way for harms suffered as a result of
the contact being made.
We also reserve the right to not publish penpal ads submitted.
326-1657 Barrington St, Halifax, NS 902-425-4882
PO Box 177 Sydney, NS, B1P 5E1 902-539-5556
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1-800-667-6876 or 306-242-5005
4611 Gaetz Ave, Red Deer, AB, T4N 3Z9 403-346-8858
Fax: 403-346-2352 Toll Free: 1-877-346-8858 (Alberta only)
1168 Drouillard Rd, Ste B, Windsor, N8Y 2R1
10550 - 102 St, Edmonton, AB, T5H 2T3
780-488-5742 Collect Calls.
16 Great George St, Charlottetown, C1A 8C4 902-566-2437
111 Church St, St Catharines, L2R 3C9 905-984-8684
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255 Queen St E, Toronto, M5A 1S4 416-360-0486
RR 1, Site 1, Box 111, Onoway, AB, T0E 1V0
780-967-2997 Toll Free: 1-866-971-7233
607-45 Alderney Dr, Dartmouth, NS, B2Y 2N6
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PO Box 626, Stn C, St. Johns, NF, A1C 5K8 709-579-8656
571 Jarvis St, 2nd Flr, Toronto, M4Y 2J1 416-205-9919
705 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB, R3G 0X2
204-940-6000 Toll Free: 1-888-305-8647
1-705 Broadway Ave, Winnipeg, MB, R3G 0X2 204-981-0742
WOMEN: 50 Argyle, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 0H6 204-943-6379
135 Rebecca St, 2nd Flr, Hamilton, L8R 1B9 905-528-0854
150 Bentnick St, Sydney, Cape Breton, NS, B1P 6H1
902-539-5556 Collect Calls.
165A Gordon St, NB, E1C 1N1 506-859-9616
3050 Confederation Parkway, Mississauga
905-270-1110 Toll Free: 1-800-652-HepC (4372)
Toronto, 416-340-7790 Collect Calls.
1626 rue Hubert, Montreal, H2L 3Z3 514-847-0067
1750 Rue Saint-Andre, 3rd Flr, Montreal, PQ, H2L 3T8
514-495-0990 Fax: 514-495-8087 Toll Free: 1-877-847-3636
CONTRE LE SIDA 514-844-2477
2075 rue Plessis bureau 310, Montreal 514-521-8720
844-A Princess St, Kingston, K7L 1G5 613-545-3698 Collect Calls.
844-A Princess St, Kingston, K7L 1G5 613-549-7540 Collect Calls.
500-489 College St, Toronto, M6G 1A5
Toll Free: 1-866-224-9978 or 416-920-9567 Collect Calls.
1515 Britannia Rd E, Suite 315, Mississauga, L4W 4K1
Toll Free: 1-866-896-8700 or 905-362-2025 Collect Calls.
302-159 King St, Peterborough, K9J 2R8
Toll Free: 1-800-361-2895 or 705-749-9110 Collect Calls.
277 Victoria St, Toronto, 416-392-0520 Collect Calls.
43 Elm St, 4th Flr, Toronto, M5G 1H1 416-944-9300
399 Church St, 2nd Flr, Toronto, M5B 2J6 416-506-1400
517 College St, Ste 338, Toronto, M3G 4M2 416-924-5256
105-66 Isabella St, Toronto, M4Y 1N3 416-324-8703
58 Dawson Rd, Guelph, N1H 1A8 519-763-2255 Collect Calls.
200-1509 Centre St, Calgary, AB, T2G 2E6 403-228-0155
201-269 Main St W, North Bay, P1B 2T8
705-497-3560 Collect Calls.
M6G 1A5
phone: 416-920-9567
toll free: 1-866-224-9978
fax: 416-920-4314
email: [email protected]
1107 Seymour St, Vancouver, V6B 5S8 604-525-8646 Collect Calls.
1107 Seymour St, Vancouver, V6B 5SA 604-681-2122
614-1033 Davie St, Vancouver, V6E 1M7 Toll Free: 1-866-692-3001
85 Frederick St, Kitchener, N2H 2L5 519-570-3687 Collect Calls.
1601 Blanshard St, Victoria, V8W 2J5 604-384-2366
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