Improving healthcare for the residents of our Criminal Justice System

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To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

I urge you and your government to exercise political will in effecting change in respect to the state of health of the residents of our Criminal Justice System once and for all and go beyond lip service and plain rhetorics. While the residents of our Criminal Justice System are serving their penalty for a crime they may have committed, they still have the right to be treated in a just and humane manner during and even beyond their sentence. To disregard this would be a basic affront to our humanity. As former US President Barack Obama once said "How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn't make us safer. It is an affront to our common humanity." Prisoner Health is therefore Community health. It is everyone's advocacy as we all strive and want to thrive in a common environment that is safe, healthy, peaceful and conducive to realizing each of our dreams and aspirations. Incarceration, although being a result of punitive sanctions for wrongful acts must, at the same time be reformatory if society and its people are to benefit from the whole exercise. The process of reformation for the residents of our Criminal Justice System must therefore be implemented in an environment that is conducive to healing and transformation so that the residents of this system can eventually recover and reclaim their lives and become productive citizens upon completion or commutation of their sentence. The present state of health of the residents of the Criminal Justice System is not even close to the initial step of getting them prepared for the world outside the prison. Rather, their present state tends to aggravate the risks for corrigibility and even death for instance by suicide due to mental health issues left untreated during incarceration. We strongly urge you to take no stone left unturned in addressing the following problems that beset the residents of our Criminal Justice System: lack of access to healthcare, e.g. pain medications and lack of healthcare professionals including doctors for treatment and diagnosis and nurses for effective medication administration, among others; nutrient deficiency; need for interventions to address unsafe injection practices among drug users thus increasing the risk of spreading infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C; lack of withdrawal management for residents suffering from substance abuse; lack of safety protocols for tatooing and piercing as well as for insulin injections; and lack of mental health promotion programs including implementation of suicide prevention strategies for residents with mental health issues, e.g. PTSD, bipolar, major depression and schizophrenia. Health promotion and disease prevention strategies are the key to improving the plight of the penitentiary residents. We hope that you and your government realize that the penitentiary is not a storage facility of offenders. It should be more than that. The penitentiary system must see the residents based on a trauma informed approach, the truth being that the residents have in one way or another been victims of their own circumstances - negative life experiences such as child abuse, dysfunctional family environment, lack of education, poverty, lack of parental guidance and support, or mental health problems left undiagnosed or untreated from childhood. With the foregoing being said, we urge you and your government to seriously consider this petition if you are truly genuine in leading the Canadian community towards an ultimate state of well being and an environment that is more safe, healthy and productive not only for certain sectors of the community but for all - including those who have committed indiscretions in the past.

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