Grandmother talks of injustices suffered behind bars

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre is pictured in this November 20, 2013 file photo. (QMI Agency)

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre is pictured in this November 20, 2013 file photo. (QMI Agency)

Megan Gillis, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Three years behind bars in Ottawa was nothing but a lesson in injustice, says 52-year-old Julie.

The grandmother of five contends she saw guards, who mocked her aboriginal heritage, bribe women to expose themselves, was kicked in the back as she slept for snoring and offered a way out of segregation if she taught another woman "a lesson" for crying all night.

She spent many nights in tears herself, she claims, during long stints in segregation after she felt she had to defend herself from other prisoners.

"While in the hole I cried," she told about 50 people at a downtown community centre at an event marking Prisoners' Justice Day Sunday.

"There are many injustices - there has to be somebody to speak up to make a difference."

The forum, featuring a moment of silence, was one of many across Canada marking the death of Eddie Nalon, a Millhaven Institution lifer who committed suicide 40 years ago after spending months in segregation.

University of Ottawa Criminologist Justin Piche of the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project said he was there to lend support to people who've suffered inside.

"Prisoners are someone's brother or sister, someone's mom or dad," Piche said.

"How we treat them affects all of us and reflects what we're willing to do to people."


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