When COVID-19 hit, Nova Scotia’s provincial prisoner population was reduced by 41 percent in just a few months. The women’s unit at Central Nova was down to just seven prisoners. Now all that work has been undone, write Ashley Avery and Emma Halpern.
As soon as COVID-19 spread to North America, health professionals, scholars and activists expected widespread outbreaks in prisons. Advocates pleaded for governments to release prisoners. One province, Nova Scotia, heeded this call.
The joint housing initiative between John Howard, Elizabeth Fry Mainland and Coverdale that has supported 34 people who have exited jail during the pandemic is being shut down as of June 30 as the federal funding has ended. Despite the groups’ best efforts we have received no commitment from the provincial government. Sara Tessier is a peer support worker for the project and has penned this op/ed.
Three community-based organizations serving criminalized people in Nova Scotia have developed and launched a pilot housing project to support people exiting jail during the global pandemic Covid-19.