Down in a Hole – Briarpatch MagazinePosted: March 31, 2013
This is the kind of place where Ashley Smith died in 2007. It is also the kind of place where Julie Bilotta gave birth on a cement floor last year.
It’s the place where prisons send people to punish the already imprisoned.
I’m writing with pencil and paper from a solitary confinement cell in the segregation unit – the “Hole” – at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), a maximum security provincial prison in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Here we spend 23.5 hours a day or more locked in an eight-by-twelve-foot cell. We are allowed nothing but one religious book and a pencil and paper, in addition to our prison-issue clothes (but no shoes) and toiletries (disposable toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap, a towel). We get access to the yard – a large caged balcony – for 20 minutes a day, and a shower every second day. On alternating days we’re allowed a 20-minute phone call.