August 10th is a day set aside each year when prisoners and supporters gather to honour the memory of the men and women who have died unnatural deaths in Canadian prisons.
On August 10th, 1974, Eddie Nalon bled to death in a solitary confinement unit at Milhaven Maximum Security Prison near Kingston, Ontario when the emergency call button in his cell failed to work. An inquest later found that the call buttons in that unit had been deactivated by the guards. Prisoners at Milhaven marked the anniversary of Eddie's death by fasting and refusing to work.
What started as a one time event behind the walls of Milhaven Prison has become an international day of solidarity. On this day, prisoners around the world fast, refuse to work, and remain in their cells while supporters organize community events to draw public attention to the conditions inside prisons.
The urgent need for change within both the criminal justice system and the prison system is accentuated when we look at the increasing number of prisoner deaths in Canada. The most recent toll from Statistics Canada indicates that for the 1996-97 period, there were 101 deaths of federal prisoners and 44 deaths of provincial prisoners. Prison deaths from murder, suicide, and neglect can and must be prevented.
In Vancouver there will be a number of free public events to commemorate the day:
1) Friday, July 24th, 7-9pm
PRISONERS' JUSTICE DAY COMMITTEE
P.O. Box 78005, 2606 Commercial Drive,
Vancouver, B.C. V5N 5W1
Fax: (604) 872-0509
(The committee can also be contacted by leaving e-mail messages at firstname.lastname@example.org)