The Canadian government is doing a review of the justice system and is seeking submissions from Canadians. Submissions are due January 31, 2018. Books Beyond Bars is submitting the following letter. We encourage you to submit as well.
Subject: Submission on Justice Transformation from Books Beyond Bars
Books Beyond Bars provides programming in the women’s section of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility to improve access to books, writing, and literature for incarcerated women. Because we work closely with women who are incarcerated, we witness some of the effects of the current justice system on these women’s lives and the lives of the people they are connected to.
We believe that the prison system is fundamentally flawed, and does not address the systemic factors that lead to incarceration such as poverty, abuse, racism, and being criminalized for being someone who uses substances. Incarceration isolates people from their communities and families, damaging both. We believe that the prison system should be abolished and the justice systems should focus on finding ways to address conflict that are productive for communities, address the root causes of criminal behaviour, and support offenders in avoiding reoffending.
More immediately, we believe that measures need to be taken to improve conditions for incarcerated people such as eliminating solitary confinement, increasing programming to address trauma and addiction, and ensuring that transgender people’s identities are affirmed and respected.
Thank you for your consideration,
Books Beyond Bars