ETC — Case Study: Toronto South Detention Centre

The Northern and Eastern Strategies are not the first waves of prison expansion in Ontario (and they won’t be the last). They directly build on the previous wave, which was focused on Toronto. The Toronto strategy closed older prisons (Metro West, the Don Jail, and Mimico) and created the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC). Described when it opened as “the model for institutions like this for years to come,” a close look at the TSDC will help us know what to expect from the new prisons. Read More …

From Embers: Interview with Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages

Submitted by From Embers Click here to listen or download episode Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages is a six-part essay being published throughout the month of May that lays out the coming wave of provincial jail expansions in Ontario and propose a strategy for how they might be opposed. We spoke with 3 anarchists involved with the project.

Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages: Fighting Against Recuperation

Although we have many reasons to be against prisons and against this prison expansion project in particular, our motivations are profoundly anti-capitalist, since prison is an important part of how capitalism functions. However, we understand that not everyone will share this motivation, even if we have a shared goal of keeping this prison expansion project from happening. Therefore, while our primary goal is abolition, our secondary goal is to stop these prisons from being built, so we will need to find and reinforce common ground with others. Perhaps the best foundation from which to work is to identify the state, in the form of the provincial government, as a common adversary in this fight.

The state will try to undermine any anti-expansion organizing taking place, and the best way for it to do that is to take up a version of our demands and use them to justify expansion and reform; in a word, recuperation. Read More …

Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages: Why Oppose Ontario’s Prison Expansion?

We take as our starting point that the world would be better without prisons. Prisons don’t solve social problems, they exacerbate existing inequalities and play a crucial role in a violent capitalist system. The lie told about prisons is that by disappearing people who have been convicted of criminalized activities, our communities will be “safer”. In reality, breaking up communities, only to later release people with more trauma and fewer resources, does far more harm. …

Over the years, through moments of crisis/tension, the government has responded to crises in prison management by directing resources towards expanding the prison system in Ontario. Looking at public discourse around prisons over approximately the last decade, we can see a narrative that the provincial government has built up around their current prison expansion program. Read More …

Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages: Summary of the Projects

Prison is being restructured across the province, and at this time the process is focused on northern and eastern Ontario. These two strategies follow on a previous wave of prison expansion, heavily focused on Toronto but that also included a new prison in Windsor. There will be other waves after this one, probably aimed at south-western Ontario.

Both of these strategies double the prison capacity in the areas they affect. Although some of the projects involve replacing older prisons with new ones, the older ones are also being renovated. Because they are very likely to continue being used in some form, until they are demolished, they still represent capacity that the provincial prison system has at its disposal. Read More …

Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages — Prison Expansion in Ontario

Escaping Tomorrow’s Cages is written in absolute opposition to the existence of prisons. The Province of Ontario is in the midst of an initiative to expand the provincial prison system in eastern and northern Ontario, and our hope is for this text to contribute to a struggle capable of stopping it.

The initiative includes expanding several existing prisons and building at least two new ones. Together, these projects will effectively double the provincial prison capacity in the areas it effects, mainly in women’s prisons. We find any expansion of the prison system unacceptable. Read More …