On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) held its 4th webinar, this time focusing on prisoner belongings. The title of the webinar was “Stranded without Personal Belongings: putting individuals with mental health issues at risk.”
The webinar began with an introduction of the HSJCC Network, its structure and composition by co-chair Katie Almond, a Probation & Parole Officer from the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services. Dorina Simeonov, Planning and Policy Analyst at CMHA Ontario and Policy Advisor to the Provincial HSJCC then provided an overview of The Issue of Prisoner Belongings – “A Recipe for Re-offending” Discussion Paper and conducted 2 interactive polls. Participants responded that transportation was the biggest barrier to ensuring individuals released from custody with mental health issues are provided their personal belongings. Most participants also responded that they did not have a practice or protocol in place in their area to address the issue.
Michael Dunn, Program Manager for the Human Services Justice System Programs and Opioid Treatment Program at CMHA Simcoe County Branch as well as Simcoe-Muskoka Regional HSJCC Co-Chair presented on how this issue is being addressed at the ground level in his area. Finally, Joslyn Gaston, a Mental Health Court Coordinator from CMHA Waterloo Wellington Dufferin Branch and the Kitchener Local HSJCC Chair provided some scenarios of individuals who are stranded without their belongings and some practical solutions that have been established in Waterloo.
After the presentation, participants engaged in a lively discussion about special populations such as the elderly and homeless that may be especially affected by this issue as well as the specifics around what happens to belongings if they are not picked up.
If you missed the webinar or would like to view it again, a recording is available online.
To view previous webinars, for more information on the Provincial HSJCC, visit the HSJCC website.