Letter to the Editor: Accessing Internet in Women’s Prisons

Nova Scotia Institution for Women, Truro, NS.

Nova Scotia Institution for Women, Truro, NS.

Women’s Wellness Within is a non-profit organization that provides volunteer support to criminalized women and trans individuals who are pregnant or parenting young children. We advocate for access to housing, income, resources and healthcare. We are a collective of doulas, healthcare providers, lawyers, students, researchers and mentors. We have clearance to provide support at Nova Institution for Women Federal Prison, the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility Provincial Jail and women on bail and parole in the community.

WWW objects to Nova Institution’s restrictive telephone and internet access policies. Specifically, we have the following concerns:

  • Limiting prisoners’ ability to add credits to their phone cards to a single day each month prevents women from communicating and bonding with their families in a meaningful way. Women’s Wellness Within strongly objects to this restrictive policy and asks the CSC [Correctional Service Canada] to give prisoners the opportunity to load their cards throughout the month.
  • Women’s Wellness Within urges the CSC to drop all phone charges for women incarcerated at federal facilities. Phone access is crucial for prisoners who are planning for their reintegration into the community and for maintaining familial and social bonds.
  • Lack of internet access prevents women from making use of support services available online to meet their health and socio-economic needs.

For our clients, emotional support from friends and family is a key component to navigating anxiety levels which can negatively impact their pregnancies and abilities to parent. Requiring payment and restricting phone access places an added psychological and emotional burden on prisoners who have already experienced mental health challenges and neglect. We believe the policies outlined above to be unjust and request that Correctional Service Canada rectifies the barriers to phone and internet access for women incarcerated in federal facilities.


Martha Paynter
Chair of WWW