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August 10: Marking Prisoner’s Justice Day

Prison hallway, text reading Prisoners' Jusitce Day / La journee de la justice pour les detenus

Aug 09, 2023

Prisoner's Justice Day is an annual observation that recognizes of the lives of people who are incarcerated. Marked with vigils and rallies across Canada and beyond, participants and supporters offer solidarity and draw attention to the conditions faced by those who are incarcerated, while also remembering those who died in prison.

On August 10, 1975, people imprisoned at the then-Millhaven Penitentiary in Bath, Ontario marked a day of mourning and engaged in a work stoppage and hunger strike to commemorate the life of Eddie Nalon. Exactly one year previously, Nalon had died in solitary confinement while in dire need of medical attention, and the outcry sought to draw attention to such conditions and practices.

Owing to these protests and the tireless advocacy of those on both sides of prison walls, Prisoners’ Justice Day has since grown into an internationally recognized day that offers an opportunity to not only reaffirm the rights, personhood, and lives of those in jail, but to reconsider incarceration’s role in our world.

If this day spurs your interest in engaging with the issues around incarceration, or the lives of those who are or have been in prison, browse the booklist below, which features new and recent resources on the topic.

Over the past year, the Ottawa Public Library has begun work with those affected by incarceration in our community. We’ve offered resources, nascent services, and programming to people incarcerated at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

OPL has also worked with the John Howard Society of Ottawa, an organization that assists those who are involved – or at risk of becoming involved – with the justice system, and who also works with people in OCDC. Our staff have developed workshops, and shared OPL services, resources and more with JHS clients, who have, in turn, kindly welcomed us into their spaces.

We’re working on thoughtfully continuing and expanding upon our efforts with people both at OCDC and JHS. Prisoners’ Justice Day and the resources featured below offer us an opportunity to reflect on these efforts, as well as our relation to those who are incarcerated.

Rethinking Incarceration / Repenser l’incarcération
by Daniel_Library

New and recent resources critiquing systems of imprisonment and punishment, as well as books featuring the voices of those whose lives have been affected by incarceration. Des nouvelles ressources qui critiquent le système carcéral et les peines de prison ainsi que des livres sur et par des gens touchés par l’emprisonnement.