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Today we remember prisoners who died in custody – Regina Leader-Post
by ahnationtalk on August 10, 2017115 Views
August 10, 2017
Forty-one years ago today, Aug. 10, 1974, a man by the name of Edward Nalon died in a segregation cell at the Millhaven maximum-security penitentiary in Bath, Ont. Since his death, this day, Aug. 10, has become known as Prisoners’ Justice Day, when prisoners across the country and around the world take part in peaceful resistance to honour those who have died while incarcerated. This is also a day of resistance for prisoners to challenge conditions of confinement that infringe upon their basic human rights and dignities. They do this through what little means are available to them: by participating in hunger strikes, refusing to go to work and other acts of dissent.
Last week, Reuters published an alarming article that documented the deaths of persons in-custody over a five-year period. Between January 2012 and July 2017, nearly 270 people have died while in provincial jails across Canada. While the high-number of deaths in the jails is concerning, what is perhaps most wrenching about this information is that almost two thirds of these people were legally innocent; they were never found guilty of any crime, but were awaiting their day in court. In Saskatchewan, 75 per cent of deaths in custody over the past five years involved prisoners awaiting trial. These deaths are particularly troubling because these persons, while they may or may not have broken the law, are often society’s most vulnerable: the mentally ill, the severely drug addicted, the chronically homeless and underprivileged.
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