Saskatchewan

Advocacy group sets up GoFundMe page to help female inmates at Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Sask.

An inmate advocacy group has set up a GoFundMe page to support inmates at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, Sask.

Money would help inmates connect with family, buy hygiene products and find transportation home

A GoFundMe campaign is raising money to help inmates at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre. (CBC)

An inmate advocacy group has set up a GoFundMe page to support inmates at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, Sask.

Inmates For Humane Conditions is raising money to help Pine Grove inmates buy phone packages so they can connect with family, items like vitamins and hygiene products, and transportation upon release.

"Donations will also be used to help inmates who are in need of a means of transportation home to prevent another tragic loss such as Kimberly Squirrel," the GoFundMe page said.

Last month, 34-year-old Squirrel's frozen body was found in Saskatoon just days after she was released from Pine Grove, the province's only correctional facility for adult women. 

Cory Cardinal, an inmate at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre and a vocal advocate for prisoner rights, is the founder of Inmates For Humane Conditions. It is a group of inmates advocating for better conditions inside Saskatchewan correctional centres.

Cardinal said he is currently on a hunger strike because of the conditions inmates face at Pine Grove.

Cory Cardinal is a prisoner justice advocate who is currently incarcerated inside the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre. (Submitted by Abby Stadnyk)

Cardinal said there is an overuse of segregation and phone sanctions at the prison, a lack of programming, and a lack of pre- and post-release support.

He said inmates have limited access to services and aren't given access to a phone to set things up prior to getting out. 

"They're being failed by the system," Cardinal said.

Prisoner advocate Sherri Maier helped put the GoFundMe together on behalf of Cardinal.

Maier said some women at Pine Grove have also started a hunger strike in solidarity with Cardinal.

She said with only one prison for women, some of these inmates have to travel long distances to get home and some don't have anyone to help them.

"There is no way for them to get home and Cardinal doesn't want to see another incident like [Squirrel's death] happen," she said.

"Some girls will get out on a Saturday or Sunday and they'll ask to get out on Friday because there is nothing open on a Saturday or Sunday to get a bank account or try and get social assistance or anything like that," she said.

She said these requests are usually denied.

"Even in the middle of winter some of them are released into the freezing cold," she said.

Maier said funds raised can also be used by male inmates in the province for things like phone cards.

As of Friday the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $1,100.

With files from Kevin O'Connor

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