Those working in policing, the courts, and sites of confinement are among many within the prison-industrial-complex (PIC) that turn a profit through the criminalization and punishment of populations pushed to the margins in our unceded and unsurrendered communities, province, and country. The war on drugs brings some drug producers, salespersons, and users into conflict with the law unnecessarily and creates more harm to individuals and communities than benefits. The war on drugs is central to Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) actors making money off human misery. Every year in Canada, the PIC devours over $20 billion in funds that could be spent on bettering society by ending poverty, expanding access to education, health and mental health care, housing, and other basic necessities of life. We should be divesting from the PIC and its role in sustaining a flawed, inhumane, unjust, and costly drug prohibition model that is damaging and killing people, both young and old. Consider these Canadian (in)justice trends from 2014-2015:
- Alleged drug offences accounted for 9.7% of all adult charges by the police.
- Drug charges accounted for 6.8% of cases before adult courts, with possession allegations accounting for nearly two-thirds of those cases.
- In cases where people were convicted and sentenced to time in a provincial or territorial prison, it cost an average of $198.50 per day or $72,452.50 per year to incarcerate just one prisoner.
- In cases where people are convicted and sentenced to time in a federal penitentiary, it costs an average of $301.94 per day or $110,208.10 per year to incarcerate just one prisoner.
This is a time of grave injustice. As the municipal government fails to reign in the budget of the Ottawa Police Service, the provincial government pursues an uninformed plan to build a new and bigger jail to replace the Innis Road jail, and the federal government refuses to decriminalize drugs in the midst of an opioid crisis that has taken thousands of lives, Overdose Prevention Ottawa stands in solidarity with all groups – local, national and international – that are fighting the PIC and seeking an end to the war on drugs. We commit to working alongside all those involved in building a more compassionate world where social harm is met with non-violent, collective, healing, and transformative justice.