Thursday, February 9, 2012

Canadian Prisoner: Prison Blogger and Columnist

Wow - two new (to me) Canadian prisoner blogs in one day! I have just discovered this one, though it has been around since 2010.  I.M GreNada is the pen name of a Canadian prisoner who not only writes a blog on his day to day experiences within the Canadian prison system, but he also has his own weekly column in the "Province", a daily newspaper in British Colombia.  Read on for his most recent post and see below for links to his blog and his column.

If You Build It....

The season of snow has also brought with it an education for me — mostly in how this democracy stuff really works. As the government yawned, I watched the media play pitch-and-catch with a lineup that included top Corrections managers, criminologists, provincial justice ministers, and even Joe-from-down-the-street.
“How do you feel about the Conservatives implementing policies that have already failed in the U.S.?” and, “What are your thoughts on the Conservatives locking up children for mandatory minimum sentences?” were among the most predictable queries.
At least Rex Murphy, on his CBC Radio standard Cross Canada Checkup, asked listeners if it was possible that Bill C-10 wasn’t tough enough. One caller from Saskatchewan responded by asking why the legislation didn’t include mandatory pink underwear. What Farmer Fred doesn’t know is that some of us are really into pink underwear.
Meanwhile, as the country was supposedly debating the big lockdown, the real story was in my backyard. That’s where — starting in November (long before Parliament voted on it) — backhoes, tampers, bulldozers and a lineup of double-axle dump trucks (they even brought a 50-foot crane) were paving Bill C-10 right over top of what used to be our baseball field.
“What are they doing?” Boo asked me a couple of days after Halloween.
“They’re building a curling rink,” I said straight-faced. “With a cappuccino bar.”
Boo ogled me from the corner of his hot-glued and Scotch-taped bifocals. Then his attention returned to the boisterous invasion behind our cell block, and the 30-foot-deep hole in the spot where last year’s fall classic played out.
“Naaaah,” he mewled. “It’s too big.”
Boo is one of those guys with a permanent “Kick me” sign stitched to his back. His handle has less to do with a Harper Lee novel than it does his misshapen mug. Rumour is he’s never worn a mask to go trick-or-treating. And the cerebral sewage that pours from the two-toothed hole in his face is just as bad. I keep thinking I need to follow him around and just write down everything he says. It’s Jackass gold.
“Can’t slide nothing past you, can I? Actually, it’s a new condominium-style cell block with an in-ground recreation room and a community kitchen,” I said. “They’re even putting in wiring for high-speed Internet.”
“Gaawwd, why do I ask you anything? If you don’t know, just say so.”
Boo stomped away, bottom lip bouncing off his chin. I guess it’s true what they say. Some people just can’t handle the truth.
A funny thing happened when I stopped smoking all that B.C. bud two decades ago. I found out I had a brain. Not that it was a big eureka moment. Especially after I learned that the grey matter God gave me never quits analyzing. Lately, the list of things I must understand to the 33rd decimal point includes how Michael Jackson’s death bed rated a bidding war, when three years before it was Exhibit 1 in an inappropriate-touching trial — or why it is that we never see Peter McKay and Sarah Jessica Parker in the same room at the same time? But for more than a year now my list has been topped by the question no one will answer. After 40 years of leading the world away from incarceration, how did prison — a 19th-century throwback that has never served a society’s needs — become Canada’s way forward?
Today, the answer hit me like an inside curveball. It happened while I was watching a large flatbed off-loading stainless steel toilets onto what used to be third base. Obviously, some unnamed Right-wing Advocate for Yesteryear (R.A.Y.) has been hearing voices …
R.A.Y: “Why the long face, my co-replicating martial associate? Is it the economy?”
R.A.Y’s wife, A.N.N.I.E. (A Nuptial Necessity for Impersonal Economists): “My god Ray, what is it with you and the economy? I wish you’d just shut up about the stupid economy. It’s you I’m worried about. I heard you in the backyard last night, talking to the ornamental shrubs.”
“Oh, Annie, that wasn’t the shrubs. I was talking to Bootless Billy Miner.”
“Bootless …?”
Billy Miner. He was a bank and train robber in the early 1900s.”
Annie, squinting, does some quick math in her head.
“And you were … talking to him? To a 150-year-old train robber?”
“166. He got his nickname during an escape from the B.C. Penitentiary in 1912 — when he left his boots behind. Snuck right past the guards wearing nothing but a pair of Hudson’s Bay socks — you know, the ones with the coloured stripes? Damn wool socks scandal nearly sunk Lord Borden’s Conservatives. Anyhow, when we first came to Stornoway in 2004, Miner came around and started taunting me there. Claimed that Canadian prisons are for pussies, and dared me to build one he couldn’t steal out of. So, I been thinking …”
“Yeah, Annie?”
“Tell me again how you’re going to save the economy.”
Well, if that’s not how it went down, then you explain to Boo what that three-storey ditch in the backyard is. ’Cause it sure as heck ain’t an Olympic swimming pool.

I.M GreNada is the pen name of a Canadian prisoner who has been serving life for murder since 1994. The people he writes about are real, but their names have been changed. You can read more about him at

Column:  House of the Dead

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