We begin this week with a follow-up conversation with Cory Cardinal, who has spoken with us on our past two episodes regarding a hunger strike at the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada. Previously, Cory detailed his experiences during and after the hunger strike. And now, he gives us some updates and tells Perilous about the inmates’ rights issues that led up to the hunger strike, and how these changes in the system have been impacting prisoners.
Afterwards, we talk about compassionate release, as Alison Guernsey tells us about the history and barriers involved in this form of sentence reduction. Compassionate Release is the principle that sentences should be adjusted given “particularly extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing”. While it is usually considered from the perspective of individual prisoners suffering, for example, from a terminal illness, compassionate release has become an urgent, collective demand in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it spreads within crowded, poorly ventilated prisons across the US. Many of the authorities’ claims of pursuing compassionate release on a meaningful scale last spring have fallen flat, with release only being doled out for a tiny proportion of prisoners. Even many prisoners held for technical violations of their probation or parole are still being denied conditional release.
WFYI reported earlier this week that only 27 people have been released in Indiana’s state prison system due to COVID concerns, out of a prison population of 26,000. Thanks again to Perilous Chronicle for their conversation with Cory Cardinal- you can find out more at perilouschronicle.com.