ACTION NEEDED- The termination of the Independent Adviser on Corrections Reform

 

The Council of Elizabeth Fry Societies of Ontario has just sent out a press release on the termination of the Independent Adviser on Corrections Reform, Howard Sapers, by the Ontario Government. 

Sapers was an arms-length adviser who was working to address serious systemic and human rights issues in Ontario’s provincial jail system, including: including strip-searching, segregation, medication cut-off, and lack of mental health care or addiction services. Sapers' position was politically independent and offered Ontario third-party external oversight on the state of their corrections system. 

As members of the Elizabeth Fry Toronto community – an organization that seeks to support women who are in conflict with the law, including those who are incarcerated -  We wanted to share this information with you and offer some tools to help resist and fight this decision. We know that many of you are passionate about changing our criminal justice system and wanted to support you in taking action, should you choose to do so. 

If you do call and would like to debrief or share, feel free to send our volunteer coordinator (Jackie) an email at jomstead@efrytoront.org

Call or Email your MMP

You can find their contact information here.

If you feel nervous on the phone (as many of us do!) we’ve written out a script below, which can also be edited and used for an email. 

Hello, my name is __________ and I am a citizen in your riding. I am deeply concerned about the recent decision to terminate the Independent Adviser on Corrections Reform, Mr. Howard Sapers.  I'd like to be connected to someone I can speak to about my concerns. 

Sapers' work addressing serious systemic and human rights issues in Ontario’s provincial jail system- including: strip-searching, segregation, medication cut-off, and lack of mental health care or addiction services - must be continued. He should be immediately reinstated and his recommendations from the 2017 report implemented. Mr. Sapers' position was politically independent and offered Ontario third-party external oversight on the state of their corrections system. Failure to have such oversight puts already vulnerable people at even more risk. 

I have seen how our provincial system is failing all people, and especially women. There needs to be change and I do not have confidence that the provincial government can achieve this change without oversight. 

I would like to know how you plan to address this termination and your plans to support those who are incarcerated moving forward. 

Call or email the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones   

Tel: 416-325-0408 / sylvia.jones@pc.ola.org

You may also choose to get in touch with opposition critic of the Minster of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Kevin Yarde: 416-326-6727/ KYarde-CO@ndp.on.ca

(another script below, if you'd like!) 

Hello, my name is __________, I live in [name of your riding].  I am deeply concerned about the recent decision to terminate the Independent Adviser on Corrections Reform, Mr. Howard Sapers. I'd like to be connected with someone who I can speak to about my concerns. 

Sapers' work addressing serious systemic and human rights issues in Ontario’s provincial jail system - including: strip-searching, segregation, medication cut-off, and lack of mental health care or addiction services - must be continued. He should be immediately reinstated and his recommendations from his 2017 report implemented. Mr. Sapers' position was politically independent and offered Ontario third-party external oversight on the state of their corrections system. Failure to have such oversight puts already vulnerable people at even more risk. 

Our provincial systems are failing women while they are in prison and as they struggle to reintegrate back into the community. There needs to be a change and I do not have confidence that the provincial government can achieve this change without independent oversight. 

Again, I am asking that you reinstate the independent adviser on corrections reform and immediately start to implement the recommendations in his 2017 report. 

I would also like to know your existing plans for supporting those who are incarcerated.

You might also choose to call to follow up on your email. 

Share this press release with our networks. 

You might also include a few lines about why this termination is personally distressing to you as someone who works with women in conflict with the law (feel free to pull language from the script above). You could also share an adapted version of the scripts above to help encourage others to call. 

Read the report and talk to you friends, families, and colleagues

Raising awareness about the state of Ontario corrections and the injustice of this termination is important work.  If you would like to read Sapers' 2017 report, you can access it here.


 
Elizabeth Fry