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No to Private Prisons! Homes Not Jails!

Against new private Surrey Remand + Omnibus Bill

Tuesday February 21 2012

Venue: City Hall + Surrey Remand Jail
Address: ~ Highway 10 and 142nd Street, Surrey BC

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No to Private Prisons, the Omnibus Crime Bill and Mass Incarceration! 
Homes Not Jails!

Tuesday, February 21, 12:30 PM
@ the new (under construction) privatized Surrey Remand Centre
adjacent Surrey City Hall at Highway 10 and 142nd Street, Surrey BC

The BC Liberals and private contractor Brookfield Int are building a expanded and privatized (P3) 216 cell remand centre in Surrey BC.  Christy Clark recently announced the construction of another 360 cell facility to be built on Native land in the Okanagan.  These prisons are part of a massive expansion of Canada's prison system, with at least 9,000 spots currently under construction in every province and territory. The new prisons will be used to lock up an increasing number of criminalized poor people in Canada with people who use drugs, Native people, youth, migrants and refugees particularly targeted.

Stop the private prisons - Christy Clark's housing plan for the poor.

Organized by Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users & Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society
Endorsed by: Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Alliance for People's Health, BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors - Abbotsford Chapter, BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors - Surrey Chapter, BC Association of People on Methadone, Eastside Illicit Drinkers for Education, the Critical Criminology Working Group @ Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

For information email  vandu   at


The Mass Incarceration Agenda is...

  • Federal Legislation including the “Omnibus Crime Bill” and “Truth in Sentencing Act” and changes to immigration law that will put more poor people, Native people, youth, people who use illicit drugs and immigrants and refugees in prison
  • A massive boom in prison construction at both Provincial and Federal levels, including a huge shift towards prison privatization
  • Police practices of 'mining' poor neighbourhoods for crime, criminalizing poor people's survival activities, arresting people for being involved in drugs to which they are addicted, systematic surveillance and harassment of a small geographical area

Prison Building in Canada


Privatization and Profiteering

  • “Private-Public-Partnerships” to design/build and operate prisons in B.C. and Ontario
  • New Surrey Remand Centre contract awarded to Brookfield Int. (see and a new 350 cell facility being built on land owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band in the Okanagan
  • Toronto South Detention Centre is a $1 billion P3 for a 1,650 'bed' facility designed built and operated by EllisDon
  • Prison profiteers will make a “per person, per day” profit from escalating incarceration of the poor as well as lucrative construction, maintenance and servicing contracts

How the Prisons and Jails are filled...

  • 21% of charges in Adult court are for “administration of justice” charges, such as “failure to appear”, “breach of an undertaking” and parole violations - these charges result in a high proportion of custodial (jail) sentences
  • Another 23% are for property crimes, a predictable outcome of poverty, inequality and addiction
  • 7% are for drug charges; however this understates the importance of the ‘drug war’ as a mechanism for mass incarceration of poor people and native people because many people end up in prison on an 'administration of justice' charge that originates from a drug charge

Who's Inside...

  • More people: incarceration rates are rising with more than 250,000 people incarcerated at some point in 2008/9
  • Poor People: According to Conservative Senator Hugh Segal people living below the poverty line make up less than 10% of the general population but close to 100% of incarcerated people
  • Native People: are about 4% of the population but at least 20% of incarcerated people; 41% of Native people in prison are under 25 years old
  • People of Colour: 2.5% of people in Canada are Black/ African-Canadian but 9.12% of people in prison self-identify as Black
  • People who use drugs: 4 out of 5 incarcerated people are identified as having “serious substance abuse problems”










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Do some time.

Where's the citation of sources you're listing under the 'How the prisons are filled' heading?  


As someone who's spent a little bit of time in the criminal justice system as a number, I think your figures are a little but wacky with respect to custody of summary offenders.  The city jails may be clogged with minor criminals who are awaiting adjudication, but if you'd go to any courthouse in the lower mainland you'd see that the majority of people being remanded in custody, or sentenced to time for summary convictions, is really quite minor.  I personally have benefited from prison overcrowding by getting sentenced to five days time served on a fifteen count prosecution.  I've seen lots of other people benefit in the same way.

As for bitching about building new prisons, you really ought to spend a year in North Fraser Correctional Center, where they've been operating over capacity for a long fucking time.  If new joints aren't built, they'll be stacking people like cordwood in no time.  Believe me, when you're stuck in a shit hole with nobody but criminals and guards who don't give a damn, tensions have a tendency to rise.  Prison violence isn't a bit of fun, whether it's prisoner to prisoner, or prisoner to guard.  I don't believe less crowding would eliminate the violence, but I know for a fact it would ease some of the tension.


You're correct when you state that it's marginalised people who fill the majority of jail rosters, but you try to place the blame for their criminal behaviour on the state.  I'll agree with you that official attitudes and laws regarding drug use could be at best described as Victorian, but you're completely writing off personal accountability.  Part of being a member of our society dictates that we follow the law.  It's not too giant a concept to understand that you shouldn't steal people's shit, or commit violence on others.  Even the most deprived individuals are capable of figuring that out.  When you remove personal responsibility by citing addiction as a causative factor, you serve to further marginalise people by treating them like infants.  The whole thing takes on a sort of postmodern 'noble savage' ring to it, and it's bullshit.  


I've been an addict for my entire adult life.  I've committed crimes, done time, cleaned up, and gotten sick again.  I wouldn't describe myself as a member of an overlooked segment of society by ways of race or gender, but there's no chance I'll be what I figure to be a normal citizen.  I have a grade nine education, a criminal record, am a junkie, and I just don't give a shit.  I know you mean well, and I'm not here to refute every statement you've made.  I'd just like to let you know that all the good intentions you can muster don't necessarily make you entirely correct.  


Privatisation of prisons is bullshit, but putting up a few new joints would sure relieve some pressure on a few good friends I have who are currently incarcerated, and even though I'm not currently criminally active, I can't say it's out of the question that I might go back.  I'd rather go back to a pen that's got single bunk houses and a relaxed atmosphere than to the sardine cans that are currently housing prisoners.


All this activism is really just preaching to the choir anyway.  Other than armed insurrection, the only way to get the Conservatives out of Ottawa is to vote, and I don't mean throwing your vote away to some Green Party bone carver.  I mean a vote that actually stands a chance to outnumber conservative ballots.  It's not too big a leap of the imagination that Green Party thinkers could become members of mainstream parties and get elected that way.  Politics and subterfuge go hand in hand, and if you're in the game, you might as well play as aggressively as the other guys.  In my heart, I believe the majority of Canadians are left leaning.  Refining your message to make it a little more palatable to folks who've never rioted is the only road to take if you're serious.

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