"Last fall, we published volume 26(1-2) of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons “Dialogue on Canada’s Federal Penitentiary System and the Need for Penal Reform”. With that publication came a fleury of media attention and engagement with government officials and other stakeholders in the Canadian criminal justice system. This included interviews with the Lawyers Daily, The Ottawa Citizen, CBC News, and Michael Enright’s The Sunday Edition. I was also privileged to appear before the Office of the Correctional Investigator, meetings with the office of the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale, invitations to speak with policy analysts from Public Safety Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada, and provided guest lectures to students at Carleton University and Okanagan College.
"In a related issue, a decision which challenged the federal governments decision to impose a 30% deduction on prisoners pay was also rendered after the case was finally heard in January 2016. While the decision itself was negative, it has opened up the opportunity to continue applying political pressure on the federal government to examine the pay system. Again, on this issue I was interviewed by the CBC and spoke on the radio program All In A Day to discuss the matter, and wrote an op-ed which was published in The Ottawa Citizen. We have now launched an appeal of the decision and the case is once again making its way through the courts.
"Through the course of all of this, I have continued to complete my second undergraduate degree, this one in criminology at the University of Ottawa, where I am also working as a research assistant studying cultural representations of punishment and doing editorial work for the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. As this degree is being completed, I have now begun planning for my next steps, and am pleased to write that after applying to the University of Winnipeg’s MA in Criminal Justice program I was granted acceptance with ‘high regard’ by the department and offered a lucrative entrance scholarship which included an offer of a teaching assistantship and research assistantship.
"My MA project entitled "Living Behind the Fence and Beyond: An Auto-ethnographic Examination of an Online Virtual Tour of Canada’s Federal Penitentiaries” will build upon a recent research project which I was involved in which looked at an online virtual tour of a prison produced by the Correctional Service of Canada. I will evaluate the manner in which the prison is being represented to the public and how that squares up with my lived experience in prison. In addition to my application to graduate school I also applied to the Social Sciences and Humanities Council for their Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Masters). The Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarships is a $17,500 per year funding opportunity that seeks to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students in the social sciences and humanities who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and early graduate studies. Last year in Canada only 23 off such awards were awarded to students of criminology in Canada. At the University of Winnipeg only one student received this award and distinction. I am pleased to share that on April 1st I was notified that I have been awarded this SSHRC distinction and will begin studies at the University of Winnipeg in January of 2019!
"Until then, I continue to write, perform spoken word poetry, run, and engage in social justice pursuits. I have now joined the board of the Book Clubs for Inmates, and as I sit around the table amongst the passionate and generous individuals who make BCFI possible, I cannot help but reflect on how blessed I have been to have been the recipient of this passion and generosity in my march towards these accomplishments both in prison and in the community. It simply goes to show what can be accomplished when someone believes in you: you start to believe in yourself." - J