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Hunger strike begins at Lindsay jail

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Over 100 inmates at Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre have started a hunger strike to protest alleged poor conditions at the jail. The strike began on Monday June 15th, and prisoners will continue it until they are satisfied their demands have been met. Kim Schofield and Associates provided The Standard with a list of the prisoners’ demands and concerns. The law firm states tap water at the facility is not drinkable and is bad for their skin, “caus[ing] itchiness and rashes after showers or washing hands.” “The prison ensures that the correctional officers have water brought in for them at no cost, as it is known the water is not drinkable. If a prisoner wants bottled water, they must pay $1.20 for a 500mL bottle,” read a document from Kim Schofield and Associates. However, in a statement, the provincial Ministry of the Solicitor General refuted this claim. “In response to concerns raised, the ministry can confirm that the water at the correctional facility remains drinkable and inmates are not required to buy bottled water to drink,” the ministry’s statement read. Inmates are also concerned about the food they receive at the jail. “Prisoners are being given Kosher meals that were prepared in January 2020, it is June 2020. There are times the food comes opened, so prisoners have no choice to eat, but don’t know if the food has something in it or [if it has] been tampered with in some way. The Halal meals do not get brownies/pastries/biscuits that are actually Kosher like the regular meals get, instead, they get rotten/moldy fruit. Food allergies to things [like soy and dairy are not considered, so prisoners have to choose between not eating or becoming sick from allergens in the food,” read the law firm’s prisoner demand list document. Kim Schofield and Associates added, all the food options in the Canteen are junk food, and are overpriced. “With respect to meals, all inmates are provided three nutritionally balanced meals plus one snack each day,” read the Solicitor General ministry’s response. “Inmates who require a special diet for medical, religious or lifestyle reasons are accommodated accordingly. The ministry’s policy across all correctional facilities is to provide healthy food options according to Canada’s Food Guide. All menus meet or exceed dietary requirements and contain all the nutrients for the promotion and maintenance of good health.” Another concern for prisoners is a lack of access to phones. “There are only 4 phone calls allowed on each phone, which is 12 phone calls. Each phone call is timed at 20 minutes before it cuts off. There are only three phones for a range of 32 men, so, only 12 phone calls can be made between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. [At] 6:30 p.m., the men are locked back in their cells,” the law firm wrote. “This creates tension between people who end up physically fighting for the phone, getting misconducts, and then being seen as higher risk. If/when they end up in a federal institution for their sentence, people end up fighting for the phone because they are being prevented from speaking to family and their lawyers.” The prisoners’ demand is for at least a few more phones or longer time to use the phones. In response, the Solicitor General’s ministry wrote, “the ministry recognizes the importance of inmates being able to contact their friends and family, particularly during these challenging times. Inmates are provided access to phones, which are cleaned between each use.” Some of the other changes inmates are hoping for at the jail include access to a 50 inch TV to watch the news, Skype visits with family members, regular monthly cleaning of air filters at the facility, “a copy of the Criminal Code per range”, and “a copy of the CECC Policy Book in regards to the prisoners rights and complaint process.” Continued on

The Solicitor General’s ministry responded to these concerns. “While personal visitation is temporarily paused, at all of our institutions for the safety of our staff and those in our custody, CECC is working on implementing interim measures, including adding a greater variety of items in the canteen and additional entertainment options to ameliorate the impact.” Prisoners are finding the clothing they receive from the jail “comes with feces and urine stains on it” and they are hoping to also receive “proper shower curtains.” Regarding the strike as a whole, the ministry stated they have “policies and procedures for responding to situations where inmates refuse meals.” and that “staff are engaging with the inmates at Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) regarding their concerns.”

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