Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Prisoner files lawsuit over prison conditions

A convicted killer is suing the federal government, claiming he is getting shoddy treatment while serving a lengthy sentence at Stony Mountain Institution.

Joseph Sys, 32, filed a statement of claim last week naming three corrections officers and their employers at the medium-security federal prison north of Winnipeg. He is seeking unspecified financial damages and a public inquiry to review the policies and operational procedures at the prison.

Sys pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the October 2004 shooting of 39-year-old Kevin Wandowich. According to an agreed statement of facts, Sys met the victim during a drug deal and began hitting him with the handgun, which accidentally went off and killed Wandowich. Sys was sentenced in 2007 to 13 years behind bars, in addition to 30 months of time already served.
Sys claims he has been subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment," citing repeated violations of his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. None of the allegations have been proven. Federal officials have 30 days to file a statement of defence.
Sys claims trouble began in June 2008 when he required a painful extraction for ongoing dental issues he was having. He said corrections officers refused to provide him proper medical care or followup treatment, which left him in distress. Sys claims the same three guards -- who are identified as John Does in the lawsuit -- then moved him into a different unit at Stony, which included several inmates "who have a documented and well-known history of violent aggression" toward him.
Sys said he was moved out of the ward, but the corrections officers have since made repeated threats to him that they will move him back. He said their behaviour towards him has caused "several mental anguish."

I support this prisoner in his attempt to sue the government and I sincerely hope he wins, so that conditions are improved. I advocate for prisoners' human rights and equality for all, and prisoners should NOT have to endure inhumane conditions and cruel punishment. People go to prison AS punishment, not FOR punishment. The deprivation of freedom is punishment enough and they do not deserve to be further punished in prison. What these corrections officers did, was a violation of this man's rights and he should be compensated. I believe prisoners need more rights and less deprivations. Someday they will all be released back into our communities and if we deprive them and subject them to inhumane and harsh conditions, they are likely to be more bitter and angry when released, leading to an increased chance in re-offending. "Do not treat others as you would not want to be treated."  

I advocate for human rights and prisoners' rights and what these officers did, was a complete violation of this man's basic rights. People go to prison AS punishment, not FOR punishment. The deprivation of freedom is punishment enough and they should NOT be subject to cruel and inhumane conditions. Do not treat others as you would not want to be treated. Further deprivations and inhumane conditions in prisons can cause as increased chance of re-offending when prisoners are released. Do you want less safe communities? Because by not caring for prisoners' rights and conditions, that is what you are essentially advocating for. 

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 5.
* No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Harsh and inhumane prison conditions and little prisoners' rights and deprivations, are cruel and unusual punishment. People are sent to prison AS punishment not FOR punishment. The deprivation of freedom and independence is punishment enough and prisoners deserve rights, and to be treated in a humane manner and not to be subjected to poor and harsh living conditions. 

Article 7.
* All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 25.

* (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

This man's rights were clearly violated as he did not receive proper medical care for his dental issues. That is harsh and inhumane. 

Article 30.

 * Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

I am a criminal justice student. I can guarantee you, prison is NOT FOR PUNISHMENT! Any academic or student could tell you that! Clearly, you have not done your research. The deprivation of freedom and independence is a punishment. Prisoners should not be subjected to cruel, harsh and inhumane conditions or punishments. Depriving inmates further and worsening their conditions, only makes them more likely to re-offend. Clearly, that is what you appear to want! I care about everyone's human rights. Rights are not discriminatory and they apply to everybody, regardless of a crime committed, whether you like it or not.

I found this comment on the WFP, absolutely disgusting! No compassion and no sympathy:
"I almost cried when I read this. Poor guy. LOL. What a joke, since there is no death penelty for murdering someone else in this country, may he rot in jail. Prisoners should have no rights period. They shouldn't be allowed to watch TV/movies, use the internet, workout, play basketball. In short they should have the option of reading books or staring at the wall of their cell. They tend to dine like kings, so that needs to be changed immediate and they should only get to eat the food that Winnipeg Harvest deems to be too poor of quailty to distribute in their food hampers. Prisoners should not eat better than the poor. They are the bottom feeders of society and should be treated as such."

Prisoners should absolutely have rights and less deprivations! If you care about human rights for all and equality, you would agree. Further deprivations cause bitterness and the increased chance of re-offending. That does creates safer communities.

To the opponents of prisoners' rights: Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to all Canadians, no exceptions and no discrimination. You cannot pick and choose who is entitled to rights and who isn't. So get over it, and get over yourselves. 

To those who think we should treat inmates like animals: Most will be released one day and live in our communities. Think about that... Further deprivations and limitations of rights only makes prisoners more bitter and angry towards society and their chances of re-offending will increase. 

To those who think that Stony Mountain is a resort and that the inmates have it better than you do: Commit a serious crime and go live there to see for yourself. Otherwise, quit your ranting. I think you will be shocked and surprised at how wrong you are. Prisoners experience poor, harsh and inhumane conditions and deprivations and limitations of rights. You have no idea of what prison is like. 

To those who have no respect for human rights, no compassion and no sympathy: Shame on you. You are barbaric and ignorant and misinformed. I cant imagine what's happened to you in your lives to leave you so bitter and miserable. 

To the advocates of the death penalty: Clearly, you have no respect for human rights or value the human life. Capital punishment is barbaric, uncivilized and inhumane. It has no place in modern day criminal justice systems. We cannot teach society that murder is wrong, when the government commits pre-meditated and cold blooded murder by executing individuals. Plus we cannot take the risk of executing innocent individuals.  

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