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Inside Canada’s East Coast prisons (photos)

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – These rare and heart-wrenching photos were taken during a recent fact-finding visit to East Coast prisons by Senators Nancy Hartling, Wanda Thomas Bernard, Kim Pate and Jane Cordy, members of the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

There are many more photos where these came from, check them out on the Senate website. That’s also where the captions for these photos originate.

Nova Institution for Women

A prisoner’s hand-painted inspirational messages to herself are seen on the wall of her cell.

East Coast Forensic Hospital, Dartmouth, N.S.

Senator Kim Pate shares a hug with a female hospital resident as Senator Nancy Hartling, left, and Senator Jane Cordy look on. The woman spent more than 20 years in custody — including ten years in solitary confinement — until she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and finally placed in the mental health system. For many people dealing with mental health issues, help only comes after they’ve entered the criminal justice system — if at all.

Springhill Institution

The cell where prisoners are held when they’re making a phone call, one of the only avenues open to them to speak with people from the outside world.

Atlantic Institution, Renous, N.B.

A box for prisoner complaints bears a worn sticker of a guard in full riot gear that reads in part: “Correctional officers never start the fights. But we always finish them.”

Dorchester Penitentiary, Dorchester, N.B.

Committee chair Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard looks into a cramped cell with two bunk beds. Senator Bernard wore a wave cap at Dorchester to bring awareness of the cultural significance of wave caps. The committee heard from several witnesses that black prisoners are not allowed to wear wave caps because prison staff fear they signify gang ties.

See also: Senator Kim Pate on teen’s solitary confinement and return to the Waterville Youth Facility 

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