Prisoner's Justice Day
Is on August 10th, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily while in custody; victims of murder, suicide and neglect while in Canadian prisons.
It is a day when organizations and individuals in communities across Canada hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other awareness raising events in solidarity with prisoners.
It is a day to raise awareness of the high rate of women that are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers.
It is a day to raise public awareness of the human rights of prisoners and to demand that those rights, enshrined in law, must be protected and to bring public attention to the inhumane conditions of confinement in Canadian prisons.
History of Prisoner’s Justice Day
The Death of Edward Nalon
On August 10th 1974, prisoner Eddie Nalon bled to death in the segregation unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Bath, Ontario. Eddie was serving a life sentence and had been in and out of segregation from the start of his sentence. Eddie took his own life in the early morning hours of August 10th. Evidence showed that the razor blade used belonged to the prison system and its administrators.
August 10, 1975
On the first anniversary of Eddie´s death, August 10th 1975, prisoners at Millhaven refused to work, went on a one day hunger strike and held a memorial service, even though it would mean a stint in solitary confinement. Many of the alleged leaders in this one day peaceful protest would still be in segregation a year later. Note: although refusing to eat or refusing to work are among the only options for peaceful protest available to prisoners, both are viewed as disciplinary offences by prison administrations.
The Death of Robert Landers
On May 21st, 1976 another prisoner died in the segregation unit of Millhaven Prison. Bobby was very active and outspoken in the struggle for Prisoners Rights. He had been doing his time at Archambault Maximum Security Prison, near Montreal, Quebec. He was on the Inmate Committee at Archambault, where prisoners were in the process of organizing a prisoner strike to better conditions inside. Bobby was involuntarily transferred to Millhaven just before the strike in January 1976 and thrown into the Hole. On the night before he died Bobby tried to get medical help, however, the panic buttons in the cells had still not been repaired. He wanted to see the nurse, who could be heard laughing and talking with guards out in the office, at the end of the range. He and three other prisoners all called out for her to come on to the range, but were ignored by both the nurse and the guards. In the morning they found Bobby dead and a scribbled note on his bed that requested medical aid and described symptoms that indicated a heart problem. At the inquest into his death it was determined that he died from a heart attack and a heart specialist confirmed that he should have been in an intensive care unit, not in solitary confinement.
On August 10th, 1976, the Prisoners of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison will stage a one day hunger strike in remembrance of our two fallen comrades, EDWARD NALON and ROBERT LANDERS, who died in Millhaven segregation (solitary confinement) on August 10th, 1974 and May 21st, 1976, respectively; and in remembrance of all our fellow comrades and brothers and sisters from prisons across the country who died in the hands of an apathetic prison system and its people. Thousands of prisoners across Canada also participated on the one day hunger strike while Prison Justice Day Committees were formed in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia to organize community events to draw attention to the prisoners concerns.