An update on “Messages To: . . .”

This evening I took a moment to stop by Latitude 53 to get a copy of Lindsey Bond’s book of her project, Messages To: The Edmonton Remand Centre Newspaper which I’ve written about before and later while enjoying the late evening sunset in the freedom of my wonderful neighbourhood I read the texts by Anne Pasek and Karen Elaine Spencer which accompany Lindsey’s photos.

I had a very difficult time holding back tears as children played and laughed around me.

The vast majority of us have no inkling of the implications of remand.  As Spencer writes “The ‘presumption of innocence’ is breached in favour of a ‘risk reduction’ strategy of containment.”  A remand centre is de facto a place of indefinite incarceration without trial.

Edmonton’s Remand Centre is in the heart of the city, in the face of City Hall as well as citizens — although few seem aware that that grey building with the little windows holds a few thousand unconvicted prisoners every year.  In 2013, the few that are aware, who chalk the messages to their loved ones on the sidewalk outside, will no longer have even this meagre unsupervised communication.  And the homeless, those unable to post bail, the down on their luck, the mentally ill, will be trucked with the career criminals, the murderers, the rapists to the outskirts of the city and dumped into a hole to await a trial or release with little programming, counselling or mental health care.

I sincerely hope that many many many Edmontonians, Albertans and Canadians go to Lindsey’s webpage for the project, messagestoerc.com , that they seek out Lindsey’s book and that they badger their elected representatives about the wrong-headedness of increased incarceration rates.

And, as Lindsey’s photos bring home painfully and beautifully: this isn’t just about those on the inside.

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