Tuesday, 17 October 2017
featured Inclusion

Can’t wait to see my kids so I can have communication — #TalkJustice stories and poems from prison

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – At the Nova Scotia Advocate we believe that the best way to find out about poverty is from people who experience it on a daily basis, and we try to present these voices directly. No voice is more eloquent than a first voice.

It is great to see the same principle applied to parts of the latest #TalkJustice edition of the Society Record, a publication of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. It contains stories, essays and poems written by people in prison, and offers insight into a world of experience that for most of us remains conveniently pushed out of the way.

The cover of the prison edition of the Society Record is by Halifax artist Bria Miller

“Too often, we label people with the word “criminal” and believe that defines everything about them. The words in these essays push back on that view and ask us to see the people inside as complex human beings, whose experiences of the justice system offer important knowledge and solutions,” writes poet El Jones, who, together with “R” guest edited the segment.

Articles deal with topics like the shamefully high costs to make phone calls from prison, the financial barriers to getting good legal representation, the withholding of medication to deal with addiction, the lack of trades training, the insufficient accommodation of indigenous inmates, and many more.

“If one is desperately stupid and admits they are contemplating suicide, they are placed in segregation in a suicide dress.”

“When we think about justice we often think about courts, sentencing, policing and other elements of the system. Justice also begins with seeing each other’s humanity, and I believe these pieces demand that of us, and ask us to open ourselves to new perspectives,” writes Jones.

“If a person is on an opiate medication, they will be treated as though stripped of the prescription. If they are lucky, they may receive some Tylenol! The court should ensure that these individuals are gradually weaned off of their medication.”

Getting out soon, filled with determination. 
Looking forward to the fall, getting my education. 
Can’t wait to see my kids so I can have communication, 
Clock ticking down, feeling the impatience.

Not surprisingly, given El Jones’ involvement, the publication also includes several powerful poems by incarcerated women. “ The brilliance, honesty, and depth of personal insight and courage these women possess in sharing their vulnerability and thoughts is extremely powerful, and I honour them for sharing,” Jones writes.

That goes for all the writings included. Check it out here, you’ll be glad you did.

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