Prison advocates are raising the alarm about appalling conditions at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside and the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth. Things are made even worse by the pandemic. We speak with Dr. Adeline Iftene and lawyer Claire McNeil, both members of the East Coast Prison Justice Society.
“Dear Sam, this is the story of how your mom got lost, where I went, who I’ve been, and who I am.” Check out this week’s weekend video about Heather, a young mother who lives with mental health issues, who, unable to find help, ends up in a forensic hospital after being found ‘Not Criminally Responsible on account of Mental Disorder’. It’s really nice.
As of March 2020, twenty people who have been deemed ready for discharge are detained at the East Coast Forensic Hospital. They are needlessly placed at an elevated risk for acquiring COVID-19 in addition to being exposed to numerous other ethical, legal, social, and health issues.
Open letter: At this time the only adequate defence to the spread of COVID-19 inside our jails, and consequent preventable deaths, is strategic decarceration — i.e., ensuring that admissions and numbers of prisoners held in facilities are as low as possible, consistent with public safety.
Press release: East Coast Prison Justice Society is calling for a formal Fatality Inquiry into the death of Gregory Hiles last week, after he reportedly attempted suicide at the East Coast Forensic Hospital
Urgent press release: Women’s Wellness Within requests an immediate meeting with Minister of Health Randy Delorey regarding the hanging of Gregory Hiles, found dead in his cell last week at the East Coast Forensic Hospital. We call for a public inquiry into his death and all deaths of people held in provincial custody. We call for the Province to answer the questions raised by Mr. Hiles’ mother Sheila Hiles.
The news of the death of Joshua Evans, a young man who lived with developmental disabilities and committed suicide while on remand in the Burnside Jail, is devastating. The CBC reports that Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey now wants an investigation into Joshua’s death, including “whether he should have been there in the first place.” That’s quite the statement, given that In Nova Scotia we lock up people like Joshua all the time. Often in prison, where health care and mental health care needs are not sufficiently addressed. Even more frequently in prison-like institutions. And the province is just fine with that.
A few heartwrenching and rare photos taken during a recent fact-finding visit to East Coast prisons by members of the Senate Committee on Human Rights. Many more on the Senate of Canada website.