Statement of Claire Culhane, Provincial Court, New Westminster, B.C.Publisher: prisoners' Rights Group (PRG), Canada
Year Published: 1977
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX446
This is a statement by Claire Culhane in provincial court where she pleaded not guilty to a charge of trespassing on penitentiary land.
Abstract: This is a statement by Claire Culhane in provincial court where she pleaded not guilty to a charge of trespassing on penitentiary land. Mrs. Culhane has been politically active since the Spanish Civil War and observed first hand the conditions of prisoners during the war in Vietnam. She did much to foster awareness of Canada's role in that war. In her statement, she alludes to that experience pointing out that as she turned her concern to prisoners in her own country, she "found them also in cages, also treated like beasts, helpless and without hope." She points out that Canada incarcerates more of its people than any other western country. Several incidents of severe mistreatment of specific prisoners are cited including the continuous solitary confinement of three men since June 1975 (716 days at that point).
In April, five men pleaded guilty to taking two men hostage for 80 hours before releasing them unharmed. They carefully explained the circumstances, showing how they saw this as a way of forestalling further uncontrolled smashing-up in the East Block of the B.C. Pen. For seven months they were held in solitary confinement; two continue there. "This decision has been rendered by men who I submit would not themselves have the physical or moral stamina to sustain 24 hours of the treatment which they hand out to others, with a ruthlessness which can be compared to their counterpoarts in Chile today.
At present, the Solicitor-General's office is undertaking the construction of twenty-four penal institutions over the next five years as part of a drive to "boost the economy."
Mrs. Culhane concludes: "I intend to continue to use every non-violent means at my disposal to help abolish the present prison system and to help insitutute a moral, constructive and humane method of dealing with the community's problems within the community.