Protestors target prison building architecture conference









Activists call on architects to stop profiting off the Conservative Government’s damaging “tough on crime” agenda

OCTOBER 11 2012 – TORONTO 2:00pm: In the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada decision on HIV non-disclosure, which will see an increase in the criminalization of people living with HIV, protesters will gather outside of the downtown Hilton to call attention to the Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ) Conference today. The protestors are calling for a halt on Canadian prison expansions and a commitment to investment in housing, communities, health care and social justice. The annual American conference is being held for the second time in Canada and brings together architects, city planners, vendors, public safety officials, corrections officers and administrators to discuss issues related to the building of prisons, detention centres, and police and court infrastructure projects.

“We call on architects and planners to commit to building housing for our communities, and to reject contracts for building prisons,” said Zoe Dodd of the Prison Moratorium Action Coalition and AIDS ACTION NOW!, who spoke prior to the demonstration.“Poverty is increasing and we continue to be the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, instead, the big business of prison development is profiting off of warehousing marginalized people ”, said Dodd.

The conference comes just a month after a $45,000 Conservative government report was released by consulting firm Deloitte, which examined the benefits of private prison construction in Canada. “This conference reflects the scale-up of the devastating American style prison-industrial complex in our communities”, said Mikiki, from the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance.  “The Conservative government implemented legislation aimed to increase Canada’s prison population so that private industry will profit off building new prisons”

Crime rates in Canada are the lowest in 40 years. Despite this, the Conservative government recently pushed through Bill C-10 creating harsher penalties for minor offenses. In anticipation of the increased prison population resulting from Bill C-10, the Conservatives have been contracting architects, vendors and planners to expand Correctional Service of Canada facilities to accommodate over 2,700 new prison beds. People of colour and specifically from Black, African and Caribbean communities, Aboriginal and First Nations people, people who use drugs, people living with HIV, and people without status in Canada are will all bear the brunt of this political and profit-driven move on the part of the Harper government.

Prison expansion is profiting off the lives of marginalized people”, said Marty of Toronto Drug Users Union. “As we have seen in the United States, prison expansion is not about justice for people, but big profits for private contractors”

The conference includes sessions highlighting the cost-effectiveness of prisons, new innovations for building solitary confinement units, designing prison units for women inmates, and the an overview of Toronto’s newly expanded South West Detention Centre. The Toronto South West Detention Centre, located near Mimico is Canada’s first prefabricated prison, which was initially intended to hold 1300 people, but can now hold nearly 2000. Designed by Toronto-based architects the Zeidler Group, the prison is inspired by American leaders in private prison construction Tindall Corporation.

The demonstration is being organized by the Prison Moratorium Action Coalition and includes speakers from community groups including AIDS ACTION NOW!, Toronto Drug Users Union, Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Community Solidarity Network, Prisons with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), and No One Is Illegal Toronto.

Join the Prison Moratorium Action Coalition and our partners and allies as we rally against the construction and expansion of prisons and the prison industrial complex in our communities. The Downtown Hilton at University and Richmond at 2pm on Thursday October 11. 145 Richmond Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2L2

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Image above is of the expanded Toronto South West Detention Centre

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