– Souheil Benslimane (Lead Coordinator, Jail Accountability & Information Line)
– Farhat Rehman (Member, MOMS / Mothers Offering Mutual Support)
– Michael Spratt (Partner / Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, Aberger Goldstein & Partners LLP)
– Joel Harden (Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa-Centre)
Despite Bell’s “Let’s Talk” mental health campaign, the phone company makes big money from Ontario prisoners and their families and loved ones while making it tough for them to stay in touch. Imprisonment forcibly separates prisoners from their loved ones and resources in the community, which undermines our collective well-being and safety in the name of protecting society. In 2020, Ontario’s jail phone system still doesn’t allow prisoners to call cell phones. Prisoners can only reach their loved ones and community care providers by phone through expensive collect calls that cause economic hardship and contribute to the mental distress experienced by people impacted by human caging. Who benefits from this flawed and expensive system? Prison Industrial Complex / #PIC actors like Bell Canada and the Ministry of the Solicitor General (who receives kickbacks from them).
The contract for Ontario’s jail phone system is up and there’s an opportunity to put in place a new model that allows prisoners to call the cell phones and landlines of their loved ones, lawyers and community care providers without charging them exorbitant fees.
Join us at noon on January 29th / #BellLetsTalk Day at Bell Place / 160 Elgin Street to engage with art, listen to the insights of speakers, and participate in concrete actions to impact social change at the demonstration and online.
1) The Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ontario Government needs to replace the current outdated and expensive provincial jail phone system with one that a) makes telecommunication cost-free for Ontario’s provincial prisoners and their community supports, b) allows prisoners to call any number in Canada directly – including cellphones, and c) increases or eliminates the 20-minute limit on phone calls.
2) The Government of Ontario needs to promote keeping loved ones connected by reducing the use of human caging through greater investments in initiatives that a) meet the basic needs of all Ontarians (i.e. access to housing, education, employment, health and mental health care, etc.), b) prevent violence and offer access to transformative justice when harm occurs, as well as c) divert and decarcerate people from jail to the extent possible.
NOT IN OTTAWA?
We encourage prison justice organizers across Ontario to also organize events to put pressure on Bell (presumably one of the bidders on the new contract) and Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General (who’ll award the new contract) to make changes to the province’s jail phone system. Others across Canada are also encouraged to organize events to impact change specific to their respective provincial or territorial jail phone systems, as well as the federal penitentiary phone system.
SIGN THE PETITION:
#BellLetsTalk #BellLetsTalkPIC #BellLetsTalkMSG #BellLetsTalkOCDC #Divert #Decarcerate #DemandPrisonsChange while working towards a #JustTransitionFromThePIC #BuildCommunitiesNotCages