Beyond Prison Walls Canada
Started 4 petitions
Telmate: Canada Loses Millions To American Company, Exploiting Inmates & Their Families
Telmate is a Texas based phone company also known as Synergy. They run the phone service in many provincial jails across Canada, operating in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In total they service 32 jails that have incarcerated men, women and youth. Telmate collects millions off of Canadian inmates and their families. In 2010, the Government of Saskatchewan entered into a contract with Telmate/Synergy and prisoners were required to pay a lot of money to reach out to their family and friends. In 2015, Telmate collected $550,000 off Nova Scotia jails with only about $100,000 of that going to the inmate fund of the 4 institutions in that province. More alarming is in the province of Saskatchewan. In 2016, $121,316.23 was divided amongst the five adult institutions and according to officials, this money allows for programming and activities, but generally goes towards equipment, supplies for leisure and subscriptions to newspapers and TV. In May of 2017 the cost of calls increased from $1.35 for a 20 minute cal to $2.50 for a call. Prior to this change all remand inmates received 3 free calls a day, one call for each hour that they were out, however this was changed to all inmates being allowed one free call daily. Long distance calls did decrease. A 20 minute call that used to cost $7.50, now only costs $2.50. However, Telmate tries to make things a little bit cheaper by offering call packages by offering 15 calls for $19.95, 30 calls for $34.95 and 60 calls for $59.95, plus taxes and service fees. In May of 2017 it was also reported that Texas based Telmate makes $9 million from Saskatchewan inmates in provincial jails, yet the province of Saskatchewan receives less than $1 million off the profits. These prices exploits inmates and their families by preying upon a disadvantaged group of people whose only connection to the outside world is through the phone. Having Telmate in these jails is effecting inmates and their families as the cost of calls are extremely expensive. Maintaining connections to family and friends is proven to be what helps with the success of those who are incarcerated. When an inmate can stay connected to their family and support system, they have better success rates for reintegration back to society. However, the high cost of calls is preventing many in keeping connections to their family and community supports. Since the contract has been in place Telmate has made more than $1 million each year the contract has been in place, while Saskatchewan only takes about 10% of the profits which goes into a trust account for inmates which has not even earns an average of about $140,511.36 a year since Telmate entered into Saskatchewan jails. This deal has had Saskatchewan's opposition NDP justice critic arguing that the revenue should be kept in Canada, and the opposition of other provinces should be arguing for the same thing, and help eliminate this American phone company from Canadian jails. Saskatchewan is not the only province that uses Telmate and loses huge amounts of money to the U.S. A. based company, as most provincial jails across Canada are using Telmate which rips off Canadians. Ask anyone who has a loved one incarcerated in a jail that uses Telmate, they will almost all say that they have had numerous issues with Telmate such as dropped calls. Many have calls dropping after 15 minutes and its impossible to get credit for these calls as the inmate has to call in and report the dropped call, yet when they do that , they are rarely credited for that call, leaving loved ones on the outside to have to spend more money on phone calls. It is not uncommon for loved ones to spend hundreds of dollars a month on phone calls for their loved one in jail, with some spending what is the equivalent to one months rent. This is ridiculous, that those who have no access to money are being charged such high prices to connect with their family and friends and as a result family needs to rebudget their lives to ensure that they have money available to keep in touch with their loved one incarcerated. What is even more alarming is that there are many Crown corporations in Canada that could be doing the work that Telmate does in order to keep the Money in Canada and reduce the high cost of calls and eliminate the exploitation that occurs. In 2017, the executive director of communications for the Ministry of Justice, Drew Wilby said that Telmate is "a specialized technology that's required due to the nature, to record calls, as well as hold them, (and) be able to play them back and utilize that." Its odd that the Federal prisons in Canada do not use Telmate and they are able to manage their communication systems effectively with their agreements with Bell Canada. While Saskatchewan government states that they are not aware of any companies that are able to provide a comparable service the question that lies in the mind of many is why can't one be created to keep money in the province and potentially make phone calls more affordable for those incarcerated. By removing Telmate, phone services could be more affordable and the revenue collected from these services could stay within Canada or the provinces these institutions are located. If federal prisons can successfully manage their phone systems using a Canadian phone system like Bell Canada who provides much more affordable phone services to inmates and their families, why can provincial jails not do the same? If you have a loved one incarcerated in a provincial jail in Canada that is serviced by Telmate and tired of the high costs and exploitation to inmates and their families please sign this petition. If you realize that our governments are allowing millions of dollars to be taken from the provinces and put into the U.S.A. sign this petition to help try and put an end to the high cost of phone services for incarcerated individuals and their families.
CSC Video Visits
Correctional Service Canada has started to implement video visits in institutions. While these may seem to be a great idea as it allows inmates to see their loved ones while talking to them there is a great amount of concern that this is going to bring on the elimination of contact visits . While video visits will be beneficial for those who can not visit due to being far away such as over seas, or if they are sick or elderly these type visits would be some what beneficial. The rise of concern lies in that institutions in the USA started video visits and then contact visits were eliminated. Contact visits is what gets families through the tough time of incarceration to have them eliminated would be tragic. This petition is created to bring awareness and propose that while many are in favor of these visits that a policy be created to ensure that those who are participating and in favor of them do not lose contact visits for everyone else who is against them . We want to establish something that ensures that contact visits will not be lost for all those that are agreeing to video visits.
Improvements in corrections
As a prison wife and activist representing fellow prison wives and inmates across Canada I bring to your attention the issues that are taking place in correctional facilities across the country. One of the main issues that many families of inmates have are in the federal system. Federal institutions across Canada use ion scanners which create false positives and often visitors are denied entry into the prison to visit their loved ones. Unless you are a prison wife or have a loved one incarcerated you will never know how important a visit really is. As a prison wife who has visited federal prisons before I have been through those scanners and they are every visitors nightmare. From my own experience I have had to take extra measures such as wash my clothes and put them in a Ziploc bag and not remove until I get ready for my visit. I have had to soak my money over night to make sure that it does not trip off the ion scanner . These are ridiculous measures one has to take to visit a loved one. Especially when they quite often produce false readings effecting people's visits . Ion scanners are only one of the many issues in Canadian correctional institutions. The excessive use and over use of administrative segregation is a practice that needs to end. Many institutions use segregation for extended periods of time when even the United Nations says that 15 days should be the maximum. If this is the case then why are inmates being held in segregation for 2 years or more at a time . Segregation effects inmates psychologically, and physically. Being locked in a cell for 23 hours a day for extended periods effects people . As a prison wife and prison activist I have seen the effects it has on people from parinoa, short temper, rage, anger, psychosis, health problems occur such as weight loss from being stressed, skin problems from lack of fresh air, problems sleeping . It causes problems in relationships as inmates become distant from their spouse and family when released and lack trust of others on the outside. Medical care is another issue that needs to be addressed . Inmates have issues receiving proper health care . They are waiting forever for simple things like seeing a doctor which is their fundamental right . Unless they are bleeding and close to death they are denied care. There is the issue of deaths in jail. Why is it that in a institution who uses these ion scanners to combat contraband from getting into institutions are there inmates dying inside from overdoses and why is it that these are not getting noticed right away but hours later where if guards were doing their rounds when they were supposed to be perhaps then these deaths could be avoided. There are many issues in corrections that need to be addressed but these are the greatest ones . As a prison wife and activist I consider these important issues. A prison wives greatest fear is to not have her husband come home or a mother not have her son come home . These issues need to addressed and change needs to take place rather than be ignored and swept under the rug.
Elimination of Administrative Segregation
The use of Administrative Segregation is a practice that is used by correctional institutions across Canada. It is a practice that needs to be eliminated as it does nothing but cause more problems for inmates. Whether it be for administrative reasons or not, segregation has no benefits. Locking inmates up for 23 hours a day is inhumane and needs to stop as those who spend time in segregation are coming out with many problems such as skin conditions, mental health issues and other health problems that most times are not even being addressed. It has been stressed that there are psychological damages that begin to set in for when people spend more than 15 days in segregation, yet some are spending months in segregation, as much as 22 months at one time. The prairies have the second highest number of segregation cases among women inmates and majority of these individuals that are placed in segregation are aboriginal men and women who are locked up for 23 hours a day with one hour out a day to shower, make phone calls to family and exercise. Sometimes with the rotation change they are not released from their cells for almost 36 hours. The use of segregation dates back to the 1900s and then was considered to be cruel and unusual punishment that led to suicide rates and individuals becoming insane and violent. The fact that this cruel means of punishment is still used is wrong, and disturbing that some are placed in segregation for no reason. Being in segregation, one loses human contact and there are many severe physical and mental consequences that effect an individual such as gastro-intestinal problems, insomnia, deterioration of ones eyesight, weakness, fatigue, heart palpitations, migraines, back and joint pains, poor appetite, weight loss, aggravation, anxiety, suffer from panic attacks, low level of stress tolerance, irritability, fear of death, depression, feeling of helplessness, social withdrawal, anger, rage, poor impulse control, outburst of physical and verbal violence against others, self and objects, unprovoked anger, fear of social contact, cognitive outbursts such as poor concentration and memory, perceptual distortions like hypersensitivity to smells and noise, hallucinations, suffer from paranoia, psychosis, and are at high risk for self harm and suicide. Those who are subjected to extended time in segregation are at the highest risk. With claims by individuals who have spent time in segregation like an inmate at Regina Provincial Correctional Center who was incarcerated there for 3 years, and spent 20 months in segregation, or another individual at RPCC who spent several months on segregation and suffers from Chron's disease and needed medical attention after losing 24 pounds in 20 days, but yet was refused medical attention when his pain was so extreme that he had to attempt suicide in order to get the medical attention that he needed. Once seen he was prescribed a special diet, but was refused that. There are countless inmates across Canada in both provincial and federal correctional institutions that are put this inhumane torture on a daily basis. Correctional institutions are to Correct ones behaviour, not make them worse. As a first world country we put people through some inhumane treatment, some of the same treatment that we fight wars for when citizens of third world countries expose people to such treatment. Regardless of what someone has done, the use of administrative segregation is inhumane and a practice that needs to be stopped. There is no positive benefit to the use of segregation and the isolation creates more harm than good. If you have a loved one incarcerated, have been incarcerated or just believe in humane practices please sign this petition in efforts to eliminate administrative segregation.