March 10 2011 – Rally and March Against Prison Expansion

What Could we be Building Instead?? Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex!
The Prison Moratorium Action Coalition calls for the defeat of Bill S-10 and for a halt to the planned prison expansion!

Please Join us on March 10th to confront the Government’s planned prison expansion and their ‘anti-crime’ legislation! We will be marching from Old City Hall to other locations in Toronto central to the prison expansion plans to voice our anger about the further criminalization of communities in Toronto!

RALLY AND MARCH
Thursday, March 10th
12-2 P.M
Old City Hall, 60 Queen Street West, Toronto.


We are speaking out at this particular moment to oppose the Conservative government’s push to enact legislation that will put their prison expansion to use. Bill S-10 is currently being debated in the House of Commons and, if passed, would implement mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug offences. Mandatory Minimums were also put in place in the U.S, where they proved to be unsuccessful in combating the War on Drugs. The construction of new prisons, while crime, and specifically violent crime, has been steadily decreasing over the past ten years, is a ludicrous idea. The severity of the majority of crimes has lessened. Both the property crime rate and the youth crime rate have also dropped. We know that this is a waste of taxpayer’s money and a waste of financial resources that could be allocated to more important needs. Opposing MPS are also beginning to realize, and a serious debate over Bill S-10, and the Conservative approach to Crime and Punishment, has begun.

We demand that all members of Parliament defeat all the new ‘anti-crime’ bills proposed by the Conservatives, conscious of the fact that this tactic of fighting crime has proven unsuccessful in America. We demand that the government scrap Bill S-10, focus on harm reduction programs, and begin treating drug use as a health matter, not a criminal matter. We further demand an increase in harm reduction services, and adequate health service, in prisons. We demand the decriminalization of sex work. We wish to see policy alternatives proposed; to see an end to overcrowding in prisons by decreasing incarceration as a strategy; to see the development of education and training programs for those incarcerated to develop tools and strategies for living post-incarceration.

Though the numbers continue to fluctuate, this expansion has an estimated 5 billion dollar price tag per year, and will total a 9 billion dollar expenditure before it’s finished. The Conservative government refuses to listen to reason and look at the facts laid out before them.  Community organizers like us, who witness the over-incarceration and criminalization of many communities in this city, are vehemently opposed to increasing prisons and the continuation of the prison industrial complex. Instead of developing programs that work through a restorative justice model, that consider alternatives in incarceration (which are also less costly), the Conservative government wants to put more and more people in prisons, at a cost of anywhere from $88,000- $250,000 per prisoner every year.

This tougher approach to crime adopted by the Conservatives is akin to that taken up by America in recent years, which led to overcrowding in prisons and a recent repealing of this approach, due to its obvious failure. Their planned prison expansion will be met by our anger and protest over an obvious misuse of public funds and a continuation of the historical and institutional oppression of marginalized communities through police violence, criminalization and over-incarceration. In Canada, people from Indigenous and racialized communities are the most targeted and over-incarcerated group in the prison industrial complex. The growth of prisons will only see an increase in the discrimination, policing and imprisonment of members of these communities. Additionally, queer and trans communities, the poor and homeless, drug-users, non-status people, sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS and those with disabilities and mental health issues are targets for police violence, mistreatment and repression. They face a heightened risk of incarceration as well. The planned prison expansion will have serious consequences for many communities and people in our city.

As the Conservative government continues to push their ‘tough on crime’ agenda and while the debate continues over Bill S-10 in Parliament, the communities of Toronto, in conjunction with other cities, will not remain silent. We are here to voice our outrage and disgust at the Conservative agenda! We will not accept an agenda that will spend billions of dollars over the next few years on the expansion of prisons, diverting these funds from services like health care, education and social assistance, which are facing drastic and devastating cuts in the wake of a recession and brutal austerity measures.

BUILD HOMES, NOT PRISONS! FUND SOCIAL SERVICES, NOT PRISONS!

 


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