In support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada
Letter From a Springhill Prisoner

October 31, 2002.

This letter was written by a woman prisoner who is currently serving her sentence at Springhill Pentitentiary, Nova Scotia. Springhill is a men's prison, and for the women who are serving their sentences in men's prisons, life has become even more isolated.

To whom it may concern,

I am a 23 year old aboriginal female offender and I am writing in regard to the living conditions, inhumane treatment of the federally sentenced women and other atrocities that have occurred.

Myself and 2 other inmates have been segregated since October 22/02 – I take full responsibility for the incident at the library, the hard fact is the other 2 inmates were unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time when I committed the incident. Basically they are being segregated on false accusations, and to add to the strife, they have been subjected to inhumane treatment since being segregated.

Only recently have we been allowed access to laundry "privileges", showers, telephone calls, and a change of clothing. Prior to that, the first week we were segregated we only had one shower and no change of clothing except what was on our back, which we had to wash in the sinks in our cells. We recently received our televisions and stereos (2 of us) and when we inquired about the rest of our cell effects we were told by the parole officer and the unit manager that it would be based on our behavior.

We were also denied access to pen/paper privileges for a total of one week – our phone requests and grievances had to be written out by another offender, with most of the phone requests "mysteriously" going missing.

Spiritual items have been mishandled and degraded by officers. On 2 occasions one of the guards said the sage smelled "like shit."

Two women have tried to commit suicide within a period of one week, another woman recently tried to do the same. And there is not a single response or outside inquiry being made as to why women are acting out in self destructive manners in here- obviously there are very bad things happening in this unit for people wanting to find a way out, even through death.

With the past closing of P4W, one would think the stench of corruption would be long gone; but I tell you this is basically a reincarnation of P4W.

It's unfortunate that I have had to victimize someone in order for the real victims to be looked at. Hopefully people will realize that it's my hope that with committing a wrong will bring forth a right. And the right thing, the HUMANE thing to do would be an internal investigation. Investigations shouldn't have to be activated only in death. We have lost too many women who were in P4W. Thank you for your time.

To voice your concerns over:
  • the confinement of women in men's prisons
  • the treatment of women prisoners in segregation
  • the mishandling and degradation of Spiritual items
  • the increase in suicide attempts at Springhill Penitentiary

Please see the Protest Letter Contact Info Page

*no postage required on mail sent to the house of commons address from within canada
**when writing about women in prison please fax a copy of your letter to Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (613) 232-7130.