John Howard Society of Toronto

John Howard Society of Toronto

August 09, 2011 12:01 ET

International Memorial Day Focuses on Issues of Death and Dying Inside Canada's Prison System: "Dying to Get Out"

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 9, 2011) - Since 1974, August 10th has been marked by memorial services, vigils, fasts and work refusals by inmates behind bars. Traditionally a day to remember all those who have died in prison, this year's focus shifts to those who are actually dying. Across Canada, prison populations are changing; recently passed "tough on crime" legislation has resulted in more people going to prison for longer periods of time. In addition to the challenges associated with aging while in prison, the health of many prisoners is further complicated by experiences of addiction, mental health concerns, homelessness and other risk factors associated with shorter life expectancies.

Recent proactive and preventative steps by the John Howard Society of Toronto have included investments in transitional housing for former prisoners who would otherwise be homeless. "Our partnership with The Fred Victor Centre will mean that 10 units for 10 men will be available. With a roof over their heads they can access the supports necessary to address their personal and health related needs and to begin to improve the quality of their lives and their chances to successfully re-enter our community", said Greg Rogers, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Toronto.

For many, it is too late for prevention. Responses to the increasing number of palliative cases in prison have included the provision of both care for inmates within their final days, as well as training for other prisoners who then help these individuals to die with dignity, as is the case at the Regional Treatment Centre within Kingston Penitentiary. "No one should die in hell, everyone has the right to die with compassion. We must remember that every inmate is someone's mother, sister, daughter, father, husband or brother", explained Dan Haley, Executive Director of Peterborough Community Chaplaincy which provides palliative care beds within his transitional house.

Please join us at The Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square, August 10th - 11:30am-5:30pm for presentations, community tables, conversations with former inmates, panel discussions on prison health issues, and speakers including;

  • Paul Copeland- Toronto based human-rights lawyer who provided counsel to Eddie Nalon, the prisoner whose death is the reason for this annual Memorial Day.
  • Dan Haley – Executive Director of Peterborough Community Chaplaincy.
  • Rev. Fergy Wilson – Chaplain working with terminally ill prisoners at the Regional Treatment Centre within the Kingston Penitentiary.
  • Michael Chettleburgh- Acclaimed author on prison, gangs and youth crime in Canada.
  • Allan Zweig- Renowned Canadian documentary filmmaker with a focus on prisoners and prisoners.

Contact Information

  • For more information and/or a complete agenda
    for the day's events, please contact:
    John Howard Society of Toronto
    Amber Kellen
    Director of Community Initiatives, Research and Policy
    (416) 219-1012

    Prison Ministries
    Gary Glowaki
    Program Director, The Bridge
    (905) 460-5274

    Rittenhouse: A New Vision
    Joan Ruzsa
    Co-ordinator
    (416) 972-9992