Shining a light on OCDC’s conditions

The Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) is a provincial jail that has become infamous for over-crowding and violence. Last year, the Ontario Ombudsman André Marin described the jail as exemplifying “everything that is wrong with a correctional institution.”

For example, in 2010 a brain-damaged prisoner had his head split open when a jail guard stomped on him as he lay face-down in his cell. In 2012, Julie Bilotta gave birth to her son on the floor of a segregated cell, ignored despite being in obvious pain and distress. These are just two stories that have made the news. But how often does the public hear about what happens behind the bars?

CPEPThe Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) is joint initiative between Carleton and Ottawa University which brings together students, professors, researchers and community members to engage in research and public education with regards to criminalization and punishment.

In December, they held a public forum to discuss conditions at the Innes Road jail. As lawyer Jason Gilbert said, “When you have cells with three people, with one sleeping on the floor, the jail is going to become a powder keg. And when you have people working in that environment, it’s going to lead to more incidents of violence, more aggression, more problems.”

Event organizer and Carleton sociology and criminology professor, Aaron Doyle said, “We need to move from people saying how terrible things are in there to actually doing something about it.”

CPEP continues to meet and discuss ways to push for change at OCDC. Anyone interested in participating, such as by sharing their own experiences or by assisting with research and public engagement, can find out more at the organization’s website.

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About Anita Grace
I'm a PhD student in Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. I am committed to social justice and informed, effective approaches to inequality and injustice.

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