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: 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 — 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 …

Ann Hansen on Prisoner Organizing and Working With Allies

In this interview, Ann Hansen, author of Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerilla and Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time For Society’s Crimes, discusses her work with the Prison for Women Memorial Collective (P4WMC). The group is dedicated to having a permanent Memorial Garden and Gallery for all of the women who died in federal prisons, to be located inside the now-closed P4W Prison. It is their goal to exhibit art, writing and films about the women in prison, so they will be remembered as the fully fleshed-out human beings they were. Ann recounts recent challenges her group faced working with non-prisoner allies. Read More …

Niagara Prisoner Hunger Strike at Day 3! Phone Zap Monday May 3rd!

We can confirm that the hunger strike in the Niagara Detention Centre is just completing its third day! However, we spoke to someone there this morning who also shared that strikers are being targeted for repression by the institution. Today, COs entered their cells and stole their cantine items, saying they didn’t need it since they weren’t eating anyway. 

This escalation of repression is very concerning, and we need to find ways to show prisoners in Niagara that they are not alone. Tomorrow, Monday May 3, please call the jail and demand that the administration negotiate with prisoners to meet their demands. Calling the jail and circulating news of the strike is a simple way of keeping the strikers safe from reprisals and putting pressure on the admin. Read More …

Hamilton: Negotiations underway inside the Barton Jail

It’s been a big week. The short version is the admin at Barton promised movement on a crucial demand by striking prisoners, the ability to order books from outside. However, they have not yet followed through. Negotiations are ongoing, but public attention is needed to remind the admin that stalling or dishonesty is an unacceptable way of dealing with the legitimate demands of Barton Jail prisoners. Here’s the longer version: Read More …

Hamilton: There is Always Resistance — Prison Demo Reportback & Solidarity with Koufodinas

Prisoners always find ways to resist, even during the outbreak. The prison’s power over them is arbitrary and nearly total — they are not given even basic information about the covid status of people on the range, let alone throughout the prison, and there is no consultation about how to deal with the situation. And yet, this past week, we heard that one range initiated a collective meal refusal while another collectively refused to be tested yet again for covid. Prisoners continue to use the few minutes they have out of their cells to call us and let us know what’s going on.

There is always resistance, but it is stronger when prisoners know they are not alone. With outside solidarity, we can change the balance of power between the institution and those it cages by amplifying their acts of refusal and responding with action. Read More …

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

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. Read More …

Hamilton: 27 cases in Covid outbreak at Barton Jail

Since an outbreak at Barton Jail was declared 5 days ago, almost no information has gotten out from the people locked up inside. They have been on 24 hour lockdown for over 5 days as of the writing of this. According to the city’s covid outbreak website there are 27 cases at Barton, including both inmates locked up inside and staff.
Folks inside have been cut off from the outside because of this extreme, panicked, and unplanned lockdown. They have not been able to make phone calls and have not been able to send out any mail correspondence because of the guards’ refusal to handle it. This means no contact with lawyers, loved ones, or other important community supports. 24 hour lockdown also means no access to showers, making keeping themselves clean and healthy even more difficult. Read More …

Always Against Prison — From Hamilton to Minneapolis

This evening, we dropped a banner over highway 403 going towards Toronto in solidarity with the five people in Minneapolis facing serious felony charges in connection to a New Year’s eve noise demo in that city. Although we’re glad all five are out on bail, the arrests and charges mark a significant escalation of repression against an international anarchist tradition.

In our region, New Year’s noise demos started in 2009 in response to a hunger strike campaign by anarchist prisoners, and we have kept doing them every year since. These demos let us a share a moment of celebration with prisoners, breaking the alienation through direct action. As an international tradition, they are also a thread that connects us to anarchists elsewhere, allowing us to exchange ideas and tactics with people whose contexts are quite different than ours. Read More …