Overcrowding & Drug Addiction In Ontario Jails

Written by Joel Bitar, an American activist serving a 20-month sentence in Canada for charges stemming from the 2010 Toronto G20 protests. The following was taken from his support page.

I just laid my head down to get some sleep as I feel a cold coming on and all of a sudden I hear a ruckus. I look up from my book to see a corrections officer unlocking our cell door with a very miserable person next to him holding a mat. The sick looking man says to the C.O. “I asked to be put in segregation because I’m going to be coming down from my addiction tonight.” The C.O. responds saying, “It’s not my fault you’re a crack-head” and closes the cell door behind him. So the man comes into our cell and puts the mat on the floor.

Overcrowding is a big problem in these remand facilities and is often the source of a lot of tension amongst the inmates. A few cells on this range now have three men in cells designed for two people. Factor in that we are either locked in or out of our cells all day, sometimes for multiple days at a time, and you have a recipe for disater. The brutality of this system is becoming more and more evident. This man in my cell right now is a drug addict who needs treatment and care, instead he’s trapped in a cramped cage about to have major withdrawal symptoms.

I was unable to sleep all night because the man, coming off a prescription drug addiction, groaned and gasped in agony for hours. Anyone who is under the illusion that the prison system has anything to do with rehabilitation needs to come experience this for themselves. This especially applies to those who make a living filling these cages: the judges, prosecutors, and police. Jail is the antithesis of rehabilitation because inmates are dehumanized and treated like animals. This creates a feedback loop of anger, resentment, and ultimately, criminality.

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