Prison: A Homelessness Factory

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by C.L. Michel

Cultivating Curiosity 

Talking about prison is taboo—Canadian society deals with it far less than is common in other jurisdictions (eg., the United States). Most people in Canada don’t know anything about how the prison system works or what conditions in it are like if they or a loved one haven’t experienced it. 

One reason for this is that prison produces silence. The voices of prisoners are cut off from the world, and what happens inside prisons only makes the news in the most extreme cases. This lack of attention is problematic because the prison system is central to how many different forms of oppression reproduce themselves. For instance, it maintains class society and economic exploitation. It is a tool of racist and colonial violence that keeps whole communities down, and it produces gendered forms of trauma on a mass scale.  

Prison functions like a black box. We can see what happens prior to entering the prison system in terms of crime, policing, and the justice system, and we can see the negative outcomes of the prison system once people leave, such as poverty, homelessness, and social exclusion, but the space in between is opaque—we can’t see the conditions inside prisons that produce these outcomes. 

If we want to find solutions to complex problems like homelessness, we need to cultivate some curiosity about people’s experiences with systems we might not normally think about, like prison. 

Types of Prisons in Canada 

The various prisons in Canada are separated into two types: federal and provincial. Federal prisons, also known as penitentiaries, are where prisoners who are sentenced to over two years are sent. Although only about a third of all prisoners are in federal prison, it is what people think of on the rare occasions that they think about prison in Canada. 

The remaining two thirds of prisoners are in provincial prisons. People sentenced to less than two years, those who have been denied bail, and an increasing number of immigration detainees are in provincial prisons. All federal prisoners have also spent time in a provincial prison, and the majority of prisoners will do all their time there. Despite this, they receive far less attention than federal prisons. In provincial prisons there is less programming, less oversight, and fewer organizations that provide support. The conditions inside these prisons are far, far worse. 

In Ontario, the Ministry of the Solicitor General operates 25 adult prisons that hold around 7,500 prisoners on any given day, with an average period of incarceration of 45 days (almost 150,000 people are admitted into provincial prisons across Canada in any given year).  

Many provinces subdivide provincial prisons into other administrative categories. For the purpose of this blog, we will be focusing on adult prisons in Ontario, but there are also youth prisons and mental health prisons. There are two kinds of adult provincial prisons in Ontario: detention centres (DCs), for those who have been denied bail or sentenced to less than three months, and correctional centres, for those who have been sentenced to between three months and two years.  

In many provinces (eg., Ontario, Alberta, and Nova Scotia), about 70% of prisoners in provincial prisons are on “remand,” meaning they are only locked up because they were denied bail. This means that about half of all prisoners in Canada are on remand. This is   a significantly higher proportion than in the United States, and it has been getting worse with time.  

Since most of Canada’s prisoners are in remand, the conditions they face are crucial to understanding the prison system as a whole and the way it contributes to homelessness.  

Conditions for Remand Prisoners in Ontario 

Prisoners who have been denied bail are held in the harshest conditions in the prison system. All of Ontario’s DCs are considered maximum security, meaning they face the most restrictions on their movements, what they can have access to, and possibilities for programming.  

Detention centres are very crowded. Cells built for one or two prisoners routinely hold three, with one person sleeping on a mattress on the floor. There are frequent lockdowns, which is when prisoners are confined to their cells except for half an hour every second day. Combine these two factors and you have three prisoners held together in a space the size of a bathroom stall for days at a time without even enough room to stand up and move around. This obviously aggravates physical and mental health conditions.  

There are almost no programs in DCs, and there is very limited access to books. Visits are short (two 20-minute visits a week) and are frequently cancelled without notice. Although prisoners are entitled to 20 minutes of fresh air every day, they may only get “yard time” a couple of times a month.  

Detention centres are also very violent. Since everyone in a DC is in pre-trial and the average stay is short, there is a high turnover with lots of coming and going, making hierarchies unstable. The needs of those living in a DC for short periods may conflict with those of prisoners there for years, and the overcrowded conditions with no privacy result in high stress levels.  

Guards are also able to brutalize prisoners with near impunity. While a report from the Ontario ombudsman denounced the use of force by guards and the guards’ code of silence that interferes with investigations, this report was not enough to stop this violence from continuing. 

When you add in the overdose crisis and an inadequate medical system to the previously mentioned factors, the result is that 29 people died inside of Ontario’s provincial prisons in 2021. From previous years’ statistics compiled by Reuters, 85% of all deaths in Ontario’s provincial prison are people in remand custody, meaning those in detention centres are dying at a disproportionate rate.  

Although prison harms everyone it touches, it does not do this in the same way to everyone. Prison functions on the basis of separation, firstly by cutting people off from society, then by sorting them to expose them to different forms of harm. The administrative differences described above are one way of sorting people. Another important way the prison system does this is by gender or sex. 

Gendered Harm

All prisoners are labelled as either male or female depending on the institution’s best guess of their sex at birth, and so there are two gendered forms of incarceration known as men’s and women’s prison. There is a lot to say about how the Ontario prison system deals with trans identity, but for the purposes of this blog, it is enough to know that almost all trans people go to women’s prison. Women’s prison can be thought of as a prison for people who would be at risk of sexual violence if all prisoners were just lumped together. 

Officially, there should be little difference between men’s and women’s prisons, and the conditions are generally the same. However, it is worth reflecting on how identical treatment within an unequal society produces drastically different results.  

To give a quick example, the food in men and women’s prison is exactly the same. In men’s prison, this is mostly felt to be insufficient, in part because working out is a big part of prisoner culture. Men prisoners are often released stronger and fitter than when they went in. In women’s prisons, exercise is discouraged both by prisoner culture and by the guards. Women prisoners often experience rapid weight gain and a general decrease in fitness due to the enforced immobility. 

In this example and in so many others, sorting people by gender means the prison system is involved in reproducing negative gender dynamics. Many conditions faced by women prisoners compound common forms of gender-based trauma, such as: 

  • Frequent strip searches 
  • Round the clock surveillance by male guards 
  • The absence of privacy 
  • Losing custody over children  
  • Losing housing 

After release, feminized professions tend to care more about criminal records than many male-dominated ones: consider customer service vs. construction or childcare vs. trucking. This results in women experiencing more exclusion from the job market upon release, contributing to cycles of dependence and victimization. 

Similarly, the intense violence of men’s prison is tied to a macho prisoner culture steeped in homophobia and misogyny. This culture is then exported back out into communities by former prisoners. Both gendered experiences leave people more likely to commit future criminalized acts and end up back in prison.  

Why Does this Matter to the Homelessness Sector? 

The prison and justice systems leave a lot of people homeless and undermine the housing stability of everyone who interacts with them. Prisons also compound problems with physical and mental health, addiction, and trauma (common risk factors for homelessness). Even short stays in prison can be enough to make someone lose their job and housing, making it a clear issue for the homelessness sector. As well, people who are homeless are disproportionately represented in prison—across Canada, over 16% of prisoners are homeless, up from 6% in 2009.  

There are also major issues of social justice around prison that can only be addressed when we understand how people move through the system and what conditions they face. The awful conditions in provincial prisons amplify other forms of systemic oppression. For instance, it is nothing new to say that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among prisoners—but it feels different to say that Black and Indigenous people are more likely to be held in an overcrowded prison cell with no privacy or room to move around for weeks at a time.  

The experiences of prisoners are not well understood within the homelessness sector, which can create barriers to accessing services. There are very few services available that specifically help people being discharged from prison, leaving them to seek out services that are not tailored to their needs.  

By looking more closely at what prisoners go through inside the black box, we can work towards better outcomes for them and remove some of the added barriers they face to obtaining safe, stable, and affordable housing. 

Originally Published @ Homeless Hub

October 11th, 2023

Employment Apps ( The New Gig Work )

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If you go to the Google Play store and search for employment gig applications, you’ll see an ever increasing number of them. So, being the Urban Survivor that we are, we tried them out in a real world test situation, that and we needed money which in case they are a viable option.

There’s quite a list , and they do work, but there is work and then there’s the quality of work. Life is so quick and fast now, you miss one paycheck and you’re out on the street, so you do what you have to… you serve the devil to pay the priest ( which makes no sense ).

The gig apps all vary in “realness”. We got a few job referrals and chased down two or so. We also work with a few real world temp agencies ( work is work ) the applications are cool, except you need that human contact which some if not most of the apps do have.

They figured that out ( there’s got to be a human on the other end to empathize ) if not, there’s no sense of commitment or loyalty. i.e. If I don’t go to a job booked through an app without the human contact element there’s no ” I must fulfill an obligation ” component. The human element we’re becoming so unused to.

We found that most of them don’t really have a lot to offer, and are unforgiving if you miss a booking. One charges a 3+ dollar fee to pay you as per their own t.o.s . It is “new” these temp employment agency apps. How will they do? One has already run afoul of the immigration folk in Canada.

Things have not changed all that much as far as the worker is concerned.

The apps serve their purpose but are vulnerable to abuse, first the information you send them about yourself, your social security number etcetera, companies not located in N. America are collecting this information from consumers, who submit it without a thought.

We have to work, one way or another it’s what kind of work? you do that will dictate how happy you are in your life.

The Disparity in Dental Care Between the Rich and the Poor

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A person receiving dental care
Disparity in dental care

Proper dental care is essential to living a healthy life. However, there’s a greater chance for people from low-income backgrounds to have greater dental health problems than those from affluent families. Here’s a quick analysis of the disparity in dental care between the rich and the poor.

The Gravity of the Situation

A greater percentage of people from deprived backgrounds have been hospitalized because they needed dental care than those who were better off financially. However, many people from low-income backgrounds struggled to receive the care they needed because 35% of low-income parents and 38% of low-income adults without children did not have health insurance in 2013.

What makes this situation worse is that dental care treatment in the hospital is about 10 times more expensive (even with Medicaid enrollees) than preventative dental care at a dentist’s office. Furthermore, Medicaid doesn’t cover preventative costs. Thus, enrollees have to rely on ER care at the hospital when their conditions worsen.

The Effects of Lack of Dental Care for the Poor

Receiving proper dental care is vital because it affects the patient’s and physical health as well. A lack of proper dental care can contribute to various chronic illnesses that may pertain to cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications, respiratory infection, and so on.

In addition to physical health ramifications, there are mental health concerns, such as a correlation between decaying or missing teeth and depression. This is also the case because missing teeth can result in increased self-consciousness and societal scrutiny.  So, it makes it more challenging for people from low-income backgrounds to thrive within society.

Lack of proper dental care for people from low-income backgrounds also causes them to struggle with its effects on their employment opportunities. Poor dental care causes patients to experience discrimination in the job market. Thus, there’s a cycle in which disparity in dental care between the rich and the poor causes the latter to continue struggling to receive better dental care because they can’t afford insurance. In addition, individuals often wonder, how long after drinking can I take Ativan? You can read this article for more helpful tips.

Class Inequality in Healthcare | Wealthy? You’ll Be Healthy

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Doctor And Patient Looking At Test Results
Health Care Access For Rich People

The conversation about class inequality in healthcare all over the world has been going on for a while. Whether you are looking at rich nations like the US or poorer nations with shoddy healthcare services, there are clear differences in the sort of care the rich get and the care that the poor get. You can find more information about rehabilitation services in Liverpool at https://sex-addiction-rehab.co.uk/liverpool/. If you’re dealing with a partner addicted to weed, you may check out this helpful article to guide you. There are also some resources that can guide you on the benefits of abstaining from alcohol. Click here for more information. For insights into CBD and its potential impact on healthcare, you can also check this similar site at insidecbd.net. Due to problems with insurance and high prices, healthcare is really expensive for a lot of people. This has resulted in serious class inequality in healthcare, with only the rich being able to afford access to good care. For more information about prescription drug rehabilitation services, you can check out these helpful resources at https://inpatientrehabilitation.co.uk/prescription-drug/.

With one billion children living below the poverty line across the world, they are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition, obesity, and asthma. Adults who are part of the lower socioeconomic category are also more likely to experience mental illnesses, infectious diseases, heart conditions, obesity, and blood pressure issues.

Taking time off from work to go to the doctor, not being able to pay for services, not having access to healthcare consultancy, and more are common problems. Being poor also means that you have more crises and stress to deal with, which can also add to a person’s health woes.

The gap between the rich and the poor has been sharply increasing since the 1970s. The increase in the gap between the rich and the poor definitely has consequences that can impact individuals deeply. One way to address class inequality in healthcare is to enact top-down policies that are designed to address such inequalities specifically. Additionally, it’s important to consider other factors affecting healthcare accessibility, such as semenax review. Also, it’s important that you are aware of the sex cams. There needs to be more focus on making sure that healthcare is easy to access for everyone in society without putting you under a big debt of thousands of dollars.

My Name is Brad – A Docu-drama Film / Project in Memory of Kelly Thomas and Countless Others Who Fall Victim to the Stigma of Mental Health and Homelessness in America

Bradley James was born on April 13th, 1972. Kelly Thomas was born on April 5th, 1974. While neither met each other, they both share something in common. They both suffered from schizophrenia. While Brad lives in British Columbia, struggling to make ends meet, Kelly was not that lucky. On July 10th, 2011, while many in America were glued to their television screens, watching in awe as the US team defeated Brazil during the semi-final of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Kelly Thomas lay in a hospital bed, bloody and dying.

Kelly Thomas, a man who had struggled with fits of schizophrenia his entire life, was dragged out into the streets and brutally beaten by six officers of the Fullerton California police department – he later succumbed to his injuries.

Now, 57 Years of Soul Music Radio is collaborating with The Urban Survivor Humanitarian Network and Cheektowaga-Omni Media Marketing based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to tell Kelly’s story to the world. The company is raising funds via Slated, a crowdfunding platform for filmmakers, to launch the production of their film, “My Name Is Brad” in early Spring 2021.

This docudrama film is an initiative to recognize severe mental health issues and make them a mainstream topic of conversation. The film is aimed to show the controversy surrounding mental illnesses and police misconduct. It revolves around the lives of Brad James and Kelly Thomas.

With the current scenarios looking to get worse before they get better, the producers of “My Name Is Brad” believe that now’s the right time to bring this topic to the forefront of humanitarian initiatives that should be prioritized. With the new President in the Oval Office, we are closer to this dream than ever before – to end the injustice, indignation, and stigma associated with mental health and homelessness.

All funds raised through this film will be used to kick start an Urban housing development in all major cities. Modular container housing can be purchased for less than $2000 per unit. Since the government spends millions on everything else, it’s time to end homelessness and help those who are struck with mental illness, including providing essential services like home alcohol detox UK. For that, your participation and support are desired.

From Homelessness to Renting: How to Find Rental Housing without References

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There is no point in sugar-coating the fact that transitioning from homelessness to renting can be quite difficult for an individual, especially in cities like Toronto or Vancouver. From a landlord’s perspective, these markets are full of eligible and desirable tenants, so why would they lend their property to someone without any reference and an unstable (or non-existing) rental history.

This is a challenge most homeless people face, even when they have found a stable job and have enough money for a deposit. Finding rental housing without references can be tough but not impossible, and that’s why having friends is necessary as they may be able to help, and you can find new friends in sites like chatempanada.com. There are a few things you can do:

1. Seek out your regional Housing First* program. It’s designed to help homeless people find stable homes. You’d need to contribute a portion of your income (ideally 30% or more) while the rest would be covered by rent subsidies. It also helps you establish a rent history that can open up more rental housing options for you.

2. Provide potential landlord proof of stable income. If you’ve been working for a while, bring your last three payslips and, preferably, a letter from your employer stating your good behavior (and that they don’t have any plans to let you go in the foreseeable future).

3. If you have a stable income and money for monthly rent but not the deposit, charities like Canadian Red Cross and Salvation Army might assist you (financially). With a decent deposit amount (say three-months rent), you might be able to convince potential landlords to rent to you, even if you don’t have references.

4. Don’t fake a reference history. It is a huge red flag, and if you get caught, it might disrupt your chances of renting with other landlords as well.

5. Talk to the people who are running emergency shelters. They might be able to guide you to individuals who might be inclined to rent to you without references, just to pull you out of homelessness. If not, they might be able to put you in touch with local housing assistance programs you might not be aware of.

Be honest, talk to the people helping homeless individuals in your community, try to save as much money as you can for rent and deposit, find a co-signer if you can, and make sure your employer puts in a good word for you. You may find rental property without references if you read more. These might help you.

*https://www.bchousing.org/projects-partners/funding-opportunities/RHFP

Boggles Brown – The Blurb

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-From “Boggles Brown – My Cartoon Life in the Land Of Schizophrenia” inner sleeve. – 2010

Boggles Brown is broke, except for the “People With Disabilities Allowance” he gets once a month. This month, he lives in a run-down motel – he manages to buy an old beat-up Toyota which is unreliable but reliable if you know what I mean. Somtimes he thinks his car may be bi-polar.

He wonders whether he should be using one of those fancy-named gasoline additives like “Engine-X,” I imagine “Engine-X” to be somewhat like Olanzapine, only for cars.

Boggles Brown struggled through college. He graduated,worked for a while and then became bonkers. It was not worth the ecstacy or all the raves in the world to lose his mind – he knows that now. But it is his life, what to do?

Boggles Brown is not how I see myself so much, as how I think others see me. My mom has read some of my cartoons and scratched her head. I imagine a lot of people will do the same. But that’s not the point – is it? Am I Canada’s Andy Warhol? I think not.

I hope you like Boggles, and if you don’t, I hope you keep it to yourself because the point is that it gave me something to do.

These are all hand-drawn on whatever paper I could find.

– Boggles Brown; “BJAF” 2010

“Genes” – Boggles Brown; Urban Survival Media 2009

Exclusive Boggles Brown T-Shirts Online

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Browse and bedazzle when you wear the words of our talkative transient.

Greetings Readers,

Now, like never before, we have been waiting for a marketing breakthrough to gain that glimmer of interactivity on it’s way to your wardrobe. It’s here – Boggles Brown multi-colour T-Shirts where you get to write the dialogue for our lovable but lunatic street-sage.

https://www.slated.com/films/736655

Drop by and donate to give the My Name Is Brad docudrama the funding it needs and order a Boggles Brown exclusive hand drawn T-Shirt by local artist Brad James.

Stay Safe and Think of B. Brown When You’re Feeling Down.

– The Crew At The Urban Survivor and My Name Is Brad

Cheektowaga-Omni Launch Fundraiser for Debut Socio-Cultural Movie “My Name Is Brad”

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January 11, 2021: Cheektowaga-Omni, a production, media, and marketing company has today announced its foray into film making with the production of a socially conscious movie, “My Name is Brad”. The company hopes to engage the public and has started fundraising, soliciting support from keen donors and people who value movies with a cultural and socially significant theme.

The prevailing atmosphere in the USA makes it ripe for movies like My Name is Brad to be an eye-opener for a public swayed by bigotry and misinformation. Moreover, homelessness is a growing issue that is affecting many people.

“My Name is Brad” narrates the story of a young middle class suburban white man who struggles through University, only to end up deluded, and living on the streets. He watches his promise die, like so many North American youth today.

Cheektowaga-Omni is a production and media marketing company that was established as a tie up between Cheektowaga Music and Omni creative group Cheektowaga Music was formed by prolific musician, music, entertainment producer and, performer “Little” Herbert in 1986. Cheektowaga-Omni is in the process of reactivating a dormant Analogue TV station in Northern Washington State.

The movie My Name is Brad being produced by Cheektowaga-Omni is in memory of Kelly Thomas, who was killed by members of the Fullerton police dept in 2011. Cheektowaga-Omni has launched fundraising efforts to support the movie and plans are afoot to launch a kick-starter and a web page in support of My name is Brad. Additionally, they are exploring event ticketing options to enhance the film’s reach and impact. For more – click here.

Cheektowaga – Omni media is based in Kelowna BC, with studios located in Abbotsford BC and Vancouver BC.

The following video includes articles of harm and mayhem and discretion should be used when viewing the material involving the violence leading to the decession of Kelly Thomas.

For more information: See our postion on Slated.

Media contact

Dale Corrigan

Cheektowaga – Omni Creative Group

Email:

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