Support Access to books for Imprisoned People!

Please call the Central North Correctional Centre to condemn their new
book policy which only allows inmates 1 book per month if the title is
pre-approved by the Superintendent! Please circulate widely!!

CALLOUT FOR SUPPORT -> Support access to books for imprisoned people

Call Central North Correctional Centre: 705-549-9470 (Superintendent) and
tell them how absurd and inappropriate restricted access to books is.

If you're not satisfied with the response, and/or have the time to make
more calls, call the Ombudsman: 1-800-263-1830 and the Ministry of
Community Safety and Correctional Services: 1-866-517-0571 (toll free)."

From Alex:

No Books for Prisoners Part 4

"I did not want to have to write this. I have another post completed that
is a call-out for support for the Oshkimaadziig Camp, an Anishinabek
reclamation, decolonization, and unity camp located just over twelve
kilometers, by foot or vehicle, from this prison on the other side of
Penetang Harbor. As a non-native settler, I was planning to implore people
to support the camp with funds, supplies, and solidarity. I would much
rather have posted that piece, but it will have to wait until next week.

I did not want to have to write this post because I wanted to be done with
having to fight for imprisoned people to have access to books. Though I am
still trying to figure out a way to get this prison to expand access to its
library, the book cart (at least on our unit) has been moving regularly for
a couple months now, and imprisoned people (at least on our unit) have been
able to receive books sent in from the outside – at least until this week.

Now, instead of posting a callout for support for the Oshkimaadziig camp, I
am forced to write a callout for support in our struggle for access to
books for imprisoned people. And that’s what this post is – a call for

On December 11th an official (Offender) notice, complete with Central North
Correctional Centre letterhead, was posted on every range by the guards. I
have since discovered that it came straight from one of the managers of the
security and investigations department, Martin Krawczyk. Here is what he
had to say to us:

“Please be advised that effective immediately and as per Ministry policy,
inmates housed at the CNCC who wish to purchase books, periodicals, and or
magazines directly from the publisher, must be approved prior to making the
order. Canteen provides a selection of 58 magazines and books for purchase.
CNCC is equipped with a library and each unit has a library cart that is
replenished on an ongoing basis. Inmates must request an inmate request
form; addressed to the Superintendent requesting to be approved, and
detailing which books, magazine and/or periodical they wish to receive.
Inmates will be allowed a maximum of one book, one periodical, and one
magazine per month over and in addition to those purchased on canteen or
borrowed from the library. Any books that are not approved or exceed the
monthly will be returned to sender. Any costs incurred will be at the
expense of the inmate. At the discretion of the Superintendent or
designate, any material may be redirected if there is reasonable cause to
believe that it may offend staff or inmates, jeopardize the security,
safety and good order of an institution, the welfare of individuals, or the
rehabilitation of inmates.” [sic]

In response to this notice (with which I have some particular grievances
that I will detail below) on cell block 5A more than a dozen of us have
submitted complaint forms to the provincial ombudsman. The utter lack of
accountability and arbitrary (ab)use of authority that are characteristic
of this institution (and others) make well known the futility of
complaining up the chain of command with the prison. On at least one other
range on our unit a group of people are also filing complaints with the

I’ve since been advised by one of the operations managers (who, in her
defense, seems to be a genuinely kind person who has treated me fairly)
that I should consider it a victory that at least now senior management has
put in writing their recognition and acknowledgement that there is in fact
any policy at all that says imprisoned people are entitled to receive
books, something that they have until recently attempted to deny.

I am not writing this post to complain or as an update. I am writing to ask
for help from the outside in our attempt to have the “policy” as described
in the December 11th notice repealed and replaced, with something
appropriately less restrictive. What I’m hoping that people will be willing
to do is to make a call to the prison to tell them that the “policy” is
bullshit (and I will explain why below).

The phone number at the prison is 705-549-9470. Calls should be directed to
the Superintendent.

There are several things wrong with security manager Mark Krawczyk’s
“policy.” I keep putting the word policy in quotations because nowhere in
his notice does Krawczyk indicate where the alleged “policy” comes from. It
does not match the policy in the Information Guide for Adult Inmates put
out by the Ministry, nor does it match anything that I have ever seen in
the Ministry of Correctional Services Act or any other prison legislation.
If this is in fact a Ministry “policy,” as Krawczyk suggests, it needs to
be drastically changed.

With respect to the notion of preapproval, let’s put aside momentarily that
such a process is unnecessarily restrictive, absurdly bureaucratic, and
reeks of fascistic tendencies; it also doesn’t work. And for those of us
imprisoned here, it feels like an obvious ruse to obscure the intention of
preventing prisoners from being able to receive books sent into them from
family members or their community support. That said, the aforementioned
Information Guide, while saying nothing about maximum limits, does specify
a preapproval process. But in a place like this, where people like Krawczyk
so routinely abuse their power in such arbitrary ways, while others are
simply oblivious to the rules of this institution that they themselves are
hired to uphold, that component of such a policy is an obvious and utter

An anecdote: when I first arrived here, having already familiarized myself
with as much provincial prison policy as I could, I did in fact submit a
request to get approval to receive a magazine subscription. It was denied.
That magazine was not anything militant or even radical; it was The
Economist. Denied by the Deputy Superintendent of Operations Office with
the following explanation: “only approved magazines from the canteen list”
[sic]. When I followed up with a request “to discuss decision to contravene
policy regarding seizing inappropriate reading material,” an Operations
Manager responded as follows: “CNCC provides library books to the unit… You
are allowed to order books, however, they are held in your property until
you are released.” At that time the library cart on our unit had not
actually made rounds for several months. I gave up on the magazine
subscription and arranged for people (from the outside) to start sending
books (straight from the publisher or distributor) and then calling the
prison to pressure them to have the books delivered. I also kept writing
installments of No Books for Prisoners and the approach seemed to get the
books in – until now.

In general, requests to the Superintendent (and other management) are
ignored and, as the above anecdote displays, even when they are
acknowledged they tend to be summarily and arbitrarily dismissed. I have
never heard of someone getting a book “approved” here. Further, while some
security streaming does make sense (this is, after all, a maximum security
prison), the idea that decisions about censorship based on title and author
alone is flabbergasting – it’s not even judging a book by its cover.

The maximum of one book a month is also ridiculous and, as I’ve written,
it’s the first time I have ever heard this suggestion. Krawczyk’s “notice”
attempts to obscure the punitive authoritarian restrictiveness of this
facet of his “policy” by noting that there are “58 magazines and books” on
the canteen list. There are less than a dozen book titles on that list, and
those have not been rotated since August. The rest are magazines, and
reading magazines does not do the same thing for one’s mind that can be
achieved from reading books. And while the library is relatively impressive
(given that this is, after all, a prison) only people who are enrolled in
the education program here are allowed to access the actual library. The
book cart does come around regularly now, at least on my unit, as the
guards have “hired” me as the “unit librarian.” However, the cart only
holds about 150 books, despite there being almost 200 imprisoned people on
this unit, and I have only between 5 and 15 minutes to spend in front of
each range for up to 32 people to reach through a 6” by 3” slot in the wall
to pick books from the cart.

To my mind the one book maximum in Krawczyk’s is cruel and unnecessarily
punitive. Why begrudge imprisoned people books? Most of the books sent in
to people end up being donated to the library when those people are
released. I would think that having books sent in should be encouraged, not

There are lots of books here. Access to them is atrocious. This is an
institutional and institutionalized problem that needs to be corrected. For
a few months we were able to have books sent in from the outside. Those of
us who are about reading and also have access to people with money who want
to send us books, and also have the wherewithal to coordinate this and
stand up for ourselves to ensure the books are delivered – a very small
number of us – have been getting books sent in regularly, and sharing them
with others. Everyone has been reading more. Now Martin Krawczyk has
attempted to put a stop to that – I think arbitrarily, and in my opinion,
an abuse of his authority.

I am hoping that people will call to tell the Superintendent how absurd and
inappropriate this restrictiveness is. If people are unsatisfied with the
responses they get, if there is a not a repeal or substantial alteration of
this counterintuitive “policy” – after all, Krawczyk’s own notice
explicitly mentions the “good order of the institution” and the
“rehabilitation of imprisoned people”; things I would imagine facilitated
by the reading and sharing of books – or if people are willing to make more
than one phone call in support of our struggle for access to books I would
encourage people to also call the ombudsman (1-800-263-1830) and/or the
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

I had wanted instead to encourage people to support the Oshkimaadziig Camp
and the efforts of the people there who are about to enter a long, cold
winter outdoors. As a settler, I believe there is no stronger imperative
than decolonization and to support and be in solidarity with Indigenous
sovereigntists and land defenders. I apologize for having to write this
post. Thank you for reading it and for your support.

Next week: No Justice on Stolen Land, No Surrender at the Oshkimaadziig
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