Hamilton: Rally and hunger strike as conditions worsen at Barton Jail during outbreak

From the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project. Original post from March 2nd is preceded by an update posted on March 3rd.

(March 3rd, 2021) We received word last night that at least one range on 3C launched a hunger strike today to protest against worsening conditions in the jail since the start of the covid outbreak.

Communication is a crucial part of building solidarity, so we were out this morning with a banner to tell other ranges in the jail that 3C was taking action. We also brought signs with a few of the immediate demands we heard from that range: they want accurate information about the outbreak and explanations for measures taken, they want an end to the arbitrary and punitive lockdowns, and they want remand prisoners released to ease overcrowding.

We are calling for a public demonstration in support of prisoners this saturday at 1pm, starting on the east side of the jail. Please spread the word and join us if you can!


(March 2nd, 2021) Since the covid 19 outbreak was declared at Barton jail, things have gotten drastically worse, and the information being released by the administration doesn’t tell half the story.

We are therefore calling for a public demonstration outside the jail this Saturday, March 6, at 1pm on the east side of the jail off Ferguson St.

While the jail is now officially reporting 58 cases, prisoners we’ve spoken to believe this number is way too low. One person reported that there are around 50 cases on his floor alone.

It’s clear that Barton has no coherent strategy for dealing with covid. Without explanation, prisoners in dorms that they believed were covid-free are being moved to ranges where almost everyone has tested positive. On some ranges, people have been on 23-hour lockdown for the last 3 weeks, but covid has still spread across the range, demonstrating that lockdowns aren’t effective in this setting. Prisoners across every range we’ve spoken to have described an elimination of almost any cleaning, calling the ranges “absolutely disgusting”. In terms of medical care, prisoners who test positive are given a list of covid symptoms, and told that if they experience the very worst ones, they are allowed to ask for medical help.

This is not to mention the losses of many of the basic things that make life in Barton slightly more liveable – visits, yard time, books, and mail.

Covid inside Barton is out of control, and the administration has completely failed at keeping prisoners safe. As one prisoner who we spoke to put it, “No lockdowns, no nothing’s going to help us. We just have to hope we survive covid”. It is inhumane and unacceptable to keep people locked up in these conditions.

Join us to demand freedom for everyone inside Barton, and to let our neighbours know they are not forgotten.