Statement: We welcome and support the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) policy shift in the last few years to be trans-inclusive and we cannot let this work go anywhere but forward. We recognize that several of the women who wrote a recent Open Letter to CAEFS share that they are formerly incarcerated, and we honour their experience and pain. We do not support their discriminatory comments about incarcerated trans women, nor their assumptions about who speaks for incarcerated and criminalized women, or their calls for the creation of new prisons for trans people.
As infection numbers in Nova Scotia reach record highs, prisoner advocates are asking that the province vaccinate incarcerated individuals and correctional staff within the provincial prison system. This demand is even more urgent as the province is considering another mass release similar to the one early on during the pandemic.
Media release from the East COast Prison Justice Society: We are alarmed to learn that there has been no vaccination rollout either for provincial prisoners or correctional staff, despite prisons being obvious vectors of community and institutional co-transmission, and the heightened vulnerability & disproportionate numbers of Indigenous, racialized, and disabled prisoners.
A profile of the venerable Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia. “Although providing this support has been challenging with COVID restrictions, E Fry’s staff never gives up: “We can’t put things on pause- we have to keep going. Holly House remained open – even expanded. We are one of the only places that take recently-released women [from incarceration], there is nowhere for them to go.”
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.
News release: On Monday, November 16th a coalition of groups invested in prisoner justice are launching a 15-day spotlight on the ongoing practice of solitary confinement in Canada.
Media release: The purpose of the survey is to determine candidates’ stances on key issues related to policing, ahead of the upcoming municipal election on October 17, 2020. Topics covered in the survey range from the Calls for Justice from the Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, to the HRM budget and the delivery of policing services by the Halifax Regional Police and RCMP.
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.