Don’t forget the COVID impacts on the incarcerated
- | November 24, 2020
On behalf of the inmates of the Saskatoon Correctional Center, we ask the Provincial Government to be more transparent and accountable to informing the inmates who are in their care, serving provincial sentences and remanded who are not serving life sentences in this time of crisis and pandemic.
Saskatoon Correctional houses over 500 inmates, with 16 units, six of which are dorms that house 30 or more sentenced/remanded inmates, living in close proximity, sharing bathrooms per unit with no chance of social distancing. Three living units are double bunked, also sharing one bathroom per unit, with unlikelihood of social distancing.
These units are also used as designated quarantine units. Quarantine procedures for COVID-19 are questionable, with double bunking quarantine inmates in these units who are using the same bathrooms, sharing the same showers and after 14 days these inmates are moved to an overcrowded dorm.
Saskatchewan has three times the national average for HIV infection, which is susceptible to Covid-19. There are also other pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, Hep C, asthma, etc. that are prevalent within this vulnerable demographic that are incarcerated. Inmates incarcerated here throughout this pandemic have had their civil liberties eradicated.
There have been no visits since spring, only a 10-minute extra call via Telmate has been given, aboriginal sweats have been diminished and there is a disparity and a lack of programming, loss of exercise/outside for quarantined inmates. These disparities and hardships have increased the stress level and have caused more inmates depression and desperation, faced with uncertainty and fear that should this virus hit this prison, that their provincial sentences be considered probable death sentences as their future and health is in the hands of the Provincial Government.
With this being said, we respectfully ask the Provincial Government the following questions in keeping accountability with the inmates that are in their care:
1. What if any protocols are in place to ensure and protect the safety and health of this vulnerable demographic?
2. What measures are being taken or implemented, should an outbreak occur that affects these overcrowded dorms and units?
3. If there are outbreaks with HIV positive inmates or inmates with pre-existing health conditions, what procedures or health care can they receive so that they can avoid becoming seriously ill or facing death?
4. What is being done to ensure stress relief for inmates who must remain incarcerated through this crisis to compensate for the loss of their civil liberties and mental health?
If you consider that this is a vulnerable demographic, that has pre-existing health concerns, inmates serving sentences with release dates, remanded inmates who are not yet convicted and other factors that are mitigating and vulnerable to a pandemic that would and will turn their incarceration into a health crisis and possible death sentence.
Thank you for considering our safety.
Corey Charles Cardinal - Advocate for the inmates
This letter was sent to Eagle Feather News by advocate Sherri Maier on behalf of Corey Charles Cardinal and the inmates in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. The same letter was sent to Justice Minister Christine Tell.
Hello my name is Neil Bear. I’m from Red Pheasant First Nation. I’ve spent years enjoying reading your newspaper. I relate to so many articles especially the ones regarding injustice, racism and systematic racism. I am currently in the Sask Pen and I just finished a 3 day fast to protest my treatment from healthcare. I’m still suffering! This pandemic showed a lot of things in here. I’ve written complaints regarding CSC workers not wearing masks and having the complaint thrown out citing I was undermining the officers authority. My complaint I’ve written about my treatment from healthcare is throw out too! It would be nice to have a powerful voice for our people in here.
There is a lot of talent in here by that I mean artists and a lot of beadwork! I just wanted to share this with you.
Take care, Neil Bear.