Supporting queer and trans prisoners: The Prisoner Correspondence Project

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, organizer Melannie Gayle talks about the work of the Toronto chapter of the Prisoner Correspondence Project to support queer and trans inmates from a prison abolitionist perspective.

Prisons are brutal places. Many people who are queer, trans, or both are already likely to be targets of social and state violence on the outside, particularly if they also happen to be poor and/or racialized. Not only does this lead to heightened likelihood of imprisonment, but in prison, the violence (from the state and from other people) and the marginalization that queer and trans people face is only magnified. Gayle is involved in the Toronto chapter of the Prisoner Correspondence Project, a grassroots initiative based there and in Montreal that seeks to provide support by facilitating pen pal connections between queer and trans people on the outside and queer and trans prisoners, well as through doing public education work. Moreover, the project works from a long-term vision for a social world in which prisons have been abolished -- they argue that a prison-focused response to anti-social behaviour depends on and reproduces the dehumanization of the people it targets, that it amounts to a form of attack on entire communities, and that contrary to what we are told, it just doesn't work as a way to make our communities safer, happier, and healthier. I talk to Gayle about the group, their work, and the radical political vision underlying it.

To learn more about the project as a whole, you can visit the website here. It looks like that site is largely maintained by the Montreal chapter, so to learn about the Toronto chapter you can check out their Facebook page here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.

You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show's page on To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show's theme music, click here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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