#Anti-LifeImprisonmentMovement #OutsideTheBox #AIM
#Anti-LifeImprisonmentMovement #OutsideTheBox #AIM
Why this petition matters
#AIM #OutsideTheBox #Anti-LifeImprisonmentMovement
My name is Bryan Hood, I am 39-year-old hardworking carpenter and devoted father to a beautiful 16-year-old girl and I’m trying to make it back home to her. What’s preventing me is the possibility of a life sentence for a fist fight I am accused of being guilty of one of which all parties are well and alive with no long-term injuries. Additionally, when I was arrested, I was a victim of police brutality and excessive use of force while suffering a mental breakdown.
After the cuffs were already placed on my wrist and my arms behind my back, I was bent over a garbage can for no reason and aggressively body slammed to the floor where I sustained a bruise to my chin and a cut on my elbow.
Unfortunately, all other arresting officers did not produce body cam footage, so this is also a call to the public that may have additional footage on October 17,2021 at 15 York Street Toronto at around 4 pm (York & Lake Shore) to come forward.
As a result of growing up with out a father and having abandonment issues my main objective in life was to be the father that my father wasn’t. Although it turns out the task wasn’t easier than I thought this remains the similar gap in our father/ child development because of past decisions I had made over 25 years ago.
To the cycle of fatherless households within the black community that needs to be broken and the over representation of black and Indigenous groups subject to police excessive use of force and lengthier sentences is not helping.
I am a representative of these statistics with a 12.5-year sentence (2.5 years in jail followed by 10 years of parole) for a fist fight to add to the list.
There exist provisions of the Criminal Code of Conduct that allows the possibility for an accused to received an indeterminate sentence (a.k.a. life imprisonment) for event the threat of assault.
“The prison…functions as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers. This is the ideological work that the prison performs – it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and increasingly, global capitalism” . – Angela Davis
Of course, the individual who is unfortunately awarded these labels of ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Long-term Offender’ have proven to display a history of repetitive violent behavior, yet the main question is whether or not as a collective society, are more concerned with retribution that rehabilitation? Despite both, there exists an overrepresentation of racialized and Indigenous groups facing these harsh punishments within the prison system. It can be utterly ironic and contradictory in nature for our system of justice to opt for life imprisonment for those suffering from what has been termed “post-incarceration syndrome (PICS), which are understandable responses to living in an oppressive, restrictive, violent, and dehumanizing environment” (Gorski 2012). Also, “prisoners who have experienced long periods of time in solitary confinement and significant abuse while in prison are most severely affected” .
Gorski outlines five clusters of PICS (definitions can be found in glossary):
“ 1. Institutionalized Personality Traits
2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
3. Antisocial Personality Traits
4. Social-Sensory Deprivation Syndrome
5. Substance-Use Disorders ”
The assessments used to determine one’s level of dangerousness largely overlook these symptoms that deeply affect one’s ability to navigate the world post-incarceration. It’s most abundantly clear that severe punishment (retribution) has little to no affect in addressing the issues that arise in our communities. Where as if not deepening problems in which severe retribution attempts to resolve, upon a prisoners’ potential release, these problems still persist as a rippling effect throughout generations.
By signing this petition, you will be helping eradicate the continuity of these problematic practices; to incorporate cultural dynamics and generational trauma into current risk assessment which will lead to more precise diagnoses and better targeted rehabilitation, and to helping make the necessary amendments to a law which justifies what can arguably be considered cruel and unusual punishment (as it pertains to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, subsection 7 and 12 and the violation thereof). Now is the time to stand up to the empty apologies given later on down the road when the damages have already been done.
“To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality…on racist practises in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners” . – Angela Davis
Here is one prisoner’s account who is currently being threatened with this heart-wrenching label and indefinite sentence:
I am another victim of excessive force by the Toronto Police; an example of what happens when there are cameras watching; imagine if they weren’t. Recently, racialized and Indigenous groups were awarded an apology by Chief James Ramer for the countless examples of us being victimized. We are aware of some of these examples because of those who were brave enough to raise their voices, yet there exists a multitude of others who have chosen to remain silent. Despite the apology, what’s the remedy? To what level of accountability should Paul Van Seters of the Toronto Police Force? If nothing is done, nor awareness raised, how will noticeable changes actually occur? More importantly, I would like to raise awareness to the fact that I am currently incarcerated and being threatened with a life sentence (a.k.a. an indeterminate sentence) for a fist fight in which the victim is alive and has suffered no long-term injuries. Also, I have collectively spent roughly 10 months in solitary confinement despite recent findings of its unconstitutionality and human rights breach. Essentially, by signing this petition, you would be appealing to a law (Section 753 of the Criminal Code of Conduct) that ultimately places those guilty of a fist fight in jail for the rest of their lives.
When I was first threatened with being labelled a Dangerous Offender and be given an indeterminate sentence, I was among a large amount of other racialized individuals who were facing this harsh punishment. Each of us have witnessed multiple examples of the injustices present in comparison to others (non-racialized groups) with similar record lengths. My main question would be: Who holds these Crown Attorneys et al. accountable for who they choose to bestow these labels on when an accused’s record is not made public knowledge? At this stage, I believe there is a gap in monitoring any potential overrepresentation of a particular group. My underlining predicate offense was a result of a fist fight between an inmate and I in the Scarborough bullpen (where I was already incarcerated). He suffered a laceration above his left eyebrow and supposedly one at the back of his head. I suffered a laceration to my bottom lip that bled profusely. Despite this, I was still considered the aggressor and was initially offered one year of jail time as a plea deal to the charge of Assault Causing Bodily Harm. I believed 12 months for this fist fight to be too excessive, so I refused to plea in order to be awarded a chance to tell my side of the story. I was then recharged with Aggravated Assault and threatened to be labelled a Dangerous Offender simply because I wouldn’t take the deal.
All the time, in 2012, I was told by a legal representative that the Crown Attorney should only be allowed to put in this application if the ‘accused had 2 prior convictions of a serious personal injury offense in which he had received a sentence of 2 or more years for each’. I had only one of these on my record when the Crown (Rob Freid) told Justice Spies that they were seeking the application. When I was later found guilty of the charge of Aggravated Assault, Justice Spies felt she ‘must’ label me a Dangerous Offender (according to the provisions of the Criminal Code) with a determinate sentence of 2.5 years followed by a 10-year long-term suspension order. I believe that is grounds for cruel and unusual punishment (under the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), and although I’ve tried on numerous occasions to put in an appeal, one has yet to be heard on my behalf.
Now, I am facing a re-assessment as a result of being wrongfully accused of Domestic Assault and asked to turn myself in; naturally I believed my world as a devoted father and hard-working carpenter to be falling apart right before my eyes as I had just been reunited with my teenage daughter.(These charges were withdrawn in court) As a result, I drunk myself into a stupor, in a futile attempt to escape my pain, which lead me to punch someone in the face twice and threatened to punch another. Because of this, the Crown Attorney wishes to give me an indeterminate sentence. Yes, I do have a lengthy record with 9 convictions of assault, so it is not necessarily the nature of the charges but the reoccurrence of them that has led me to this predicament. Consequently, the Crown is concerned about the public’s safety despite the large number of individuals whom I’ve come into contact with who’s records overshadow mine triple fold, yet not ever have been considered for this indefinite sentence; so, I wish to gather enough people of the public who may find life imprisonment for a relapsed alcoholic an unfair punishment regardless the length of my record. Also, many of my convictions transpired because I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the Crown’s (whom are usually more concerned with getting a conviction even if they know the accused is innocent) malicious use of powerful coercion techniques. For example, an accused may already be incarcerated for 8 months and even though the Crown will have compelling evidence of his innocence, the Crown would still urge for the accused to plea guilty or else wait in jail for another 10 months to prove his innocence at trial. I have pled guilty many times even though I was innocent because of how long the law allows the detainment of an accused before his trial. As Ware, Ruzsa and Dias so eloquently put, “With the introduction of new crime legislation, Canada is moving towards mass incarceration, which will only exacerbate colonialism, racism, and disabilities within the PIC [Prison Industrial Complex]. In our view, these systems are not broken, they function as extensions of racist and genocidal policies and practices that seek to criminalize and imprison Indigenous and racialized people and people with disabilities.”
To sign this petition, would mean to help me once again regain my freedom and rebuild the beautiful bond between a father and his teenage daughter. An interrupted bond that is not only as a result of my poor problem-solving and decision-making skills, but can also be attributed to a plethora of external contributing factors; and of the most prominent is none other than the curse of generational trauma and systematic oppression. I am, in part, my ancestors who have witnessed our kinfolk being raped, tortured and brutally murdered. Of this genocide, we are the by-products. The trauma still lingers as we are still unable to properly identify ourselves as a nation; as humans with our own names, nor our own language, nor where we exactly came from. The tragedy still lives on despite the sugar-coated veil of equality. With this petition, you will be taking the steps necessary (regardless how miniscule each one of them may be) towards the direction of triumph. By signing, I invite you to take a stand against systematic racism/oppression, against police excessive use of force and to help break the cycle of those suffering from generational trauma. It is not only my life on the line but my daughters as well as the future generation of at-risk youth. For further questions or information, please contact me by email or by letter.
Mailing Address: 160 Horner Ave.
Etobicoke, ON M8Z 0C2