Punishment reversed for Edmonton Institution inmate who spoke to media

Correctional Service Canada has restored phone privileges to Edmonton Institution inmate Jonathan Henry. His phone card was suspended for 45 days after he spoke to CBC News about his concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the prison.

Correctional Service Canada restores phone privileges for ‘humanitarian reasons’

Edmonton Institution is a federal maximum-security facility with capacity for 324 male inmates. (CBC)

A phone card has been returned to an Edmonton Institution inmate who had his calling privileges suspended for 45 days after speaking to CBC News. 

Correctional Service Canada confirmed in an email that Jonathan Henry's phone privileges had been restored last Thursday. 

Citing privacy concerns, CSC declined to provide a reason for the reversal, made four days after CBC published a story about the suspension. 

At the time, correctional investigator Ivan Zinger indicated he had assigned an investigator to look into the punishment. 

In an email sent this week, Henry's wife, Deanna, told CBC she was grateful she's able to speak to her husband again. 

"They told him it's due to 'humanitarian reasons' because of the pandemic," she said. "Now we get to speak to him again. That helps so much!"

In a letter sent on April 3 to Henry's lawyer, Edmonton Institution warden Gary Sears appeared to suggest that Henry had broken prison rules by speaking to a CBC journalist. 

"Third-party calling is not permitted under any circumstances," he said, quoting from the inmate handbook. "Any misuse of telephone privileges, particularly third-party calling, may result in an inmate's phone privileges being restricted or suspended for a period of time."

On Wednesday, Henry's lawyer welcomed the reversal. 

"I am glad that CSC made the decision to grant Mr. Henry's phone privileges back to him," Amanda Hart-Dowhun said. 

Jonathan Henry, 32, is serving a ten-year prison term for drug and weapons offences. (Deanna Henry )

"For incarcerated people, phone calls to family are a vital lifeline, and in this pandemic it is especially important to ensure that prisoners can contact their loved ones."

Henry, 32, is serving a 10-year sentence for drugs and weapons-related offences. He is scheduled to apply for parole in May.


Janice Johnston

Court and crime reporter

Janice Johnston was an investigative journalist with CBC Edmonton who covered Alberta courts and crime for more than three decades. She won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award in 2016 for her coverage of the trial of a 13-year-old Alberta boy who was acquitted of killing his abusive father.