International Prisoners Justice Day, August 10

August 10 is the day prisoners have declared Prisoner’s Justice Day; to fast and refuse to work to demonstrate solidarity in remembrance of those who have died unnecessarily – victims of murder, suicide and neglect.

Wherever incarceration guarantees violence and trauma, we pray for hope that comes with justice. We are taught to “remember the prisoner,” and we lament the ways that mass incarceration allows us to simply forget those created in your image who suffer in prison today. Help us to be advocates for human dignity and restoration instead of cruelty.
(Source: Do Justice)

A prayer for prisoners and correctional facilities
Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy’s sake. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)

On August 10th 1974, prisoner Eddie Nalon bled to death in the segregation unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison, Ontario. Eddie was serving a life sentence and had been in and out of segregation from the start of his sentence. Even though Eddie took his own life in the early morning hours of August 10th, evidence clearly shows that the hand that held the razor blade belongs solely to the prison system and its apathetic administrators. (Read more about the tragic circumstances around his death here).
On the first anniversary of Eddie’s death, August 10th 1975, prisoners at Millhaven refused to work, went on a one day hunger strike and held a memorial service, even though it would mean a stint in solitary confinement. Many of the alleged leaders in this one day peaceful protest would still be in segregation a year later. Note: although refusing to eat or refusing to work are among the only options for peaceful protest available to prisoners, both are viewed as disciplinary offences by prison administrations.
In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in recognition of August 10th, the following statement would be read on the Paris radio station: August 10 is an international day of solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,
For here or elsewhere, prison kills. Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff in West Germany, Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in Ireland, Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre Cotte or 16 years like Youssef, whether they are considered political or common prisoners, PRISON KILLS!
By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany, England and the United States joined this day of peaceful protest.
…August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily — victims of murder, suicide and neglect.
…the day when organizations and individuals in the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other events in common resistance with prisoners.
…the day to raise issue with the fact that a very high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers. This makes it obvious that the legal system does not protect women who suffer violence at the hands of their partners.
…is the day to remember that there are a disproportionate number of minorities and marginalized people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of oppression against struggles of recognition and self-determination.
…the day to raise public awareness of the demands made by prisoners to change the criminal justice system and the brutal and inhumane conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.
…the day to oppose prison violence, police violence, and violence against women and children.
…the day to publicize that, in their fight for freedom and equality, the actions of many political prisoners have been criminalized by government.
…the day to raise public awareness of the economic and social costs of a system of criminal justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever to be social justice, it will only come about using a model of healing justice, connecting people to the crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for their actions.
…the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in prison.
…the day to remind people that the criminal justice system and the psychiatric system are mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by staff committed in the name of treatment. Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain uninvestigated.

Facebook page here.

What does the Bible say about prisons and justice (links goes to a downloadable pamphlet). Also interesting resources here.

(Prisoners Week Prayer)
Lord you offer freedom to all people.
We pray for those who are held in prison.
Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.
Support with your love: prisoners, their families and friends, prison staff, chaplains and those who care.
Heal those who have been wounded by the activities of others, especially victims of crime.
Help us to forgive one and other, to act justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly together with Christ In his strength and in his spirit, now and every day. Amen
“Remember those who are in prison as though you were in prison with them”
Hebrews 13:3

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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