In support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada
Open Letter From Betty Krawczyk to BC Solicitor General about Conditions in BCCW

Betty Krawczyk is 75 years old and is currently being held at the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women. She was sentenced on October 14, 2003 to 6 months in prison for criminal contempt of court.

Last spring, Betty was arrested in the ancient forests of the Upper Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island. She was peacefully blockading Weyerhaeuser's logging trucks along with others from Women in The Woods. She was protesting the BC Liberal's Working Forest proposal.

Prior to this sentence, she had already spent 4 months in prison. This four months was for refusing to sign an undertaking promising not to go near logging operations until the end of her trial. This gives her a total of 10 months in prison for protesting Campbell's Working Forest proposal. She is currently appealing her sentence.

Betty has been sent to jail several times for her activism. This time, the judge did not give her credit for the four months she served while awaiting trial. At the sentencing he said."Her confinement is entirely the result of her refusal [to sign the undertaking]. . . . I consider her confinement to be comparable to a self-inflicted wound,"

Betty Krawczyk is the author of Lock Me Up or Let me Go. The book tells of her story of struggling to prevent logging of old-growth forest in the Elaho Valley, and of her time in the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women.

Below is an open letter Betty wrote to BC Solicitor General Rich Coleman. It is about the conditions inside the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women.

Nov. 11, 2003
Burnaby Correctional Centre For Women

An Open letter to:
BC Solicitor General

Dear Mr Coleman,

As an inmate in Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women since June 24, 2003, I am writing to advise you that your governments cut backs in prison staff and services at BCCW have resulted in an inmate over crowding to a degree that is unacceptable in a civilized country.

Regardless of what any of us did to become prisioners in Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women, we are women still, and human, and not animals. Further more the majority of us are citizens of British Columbia.

When any women is incarcerated she has a human right to cleaniness. To clean bedding and a clean mattress, to clean clothes and to clean femine hygiene, to clean food and clean eating utensils, and a space to put her belongings. All of this becomes problematic if not impossible under the conditions of extreme over crowding that is now the norm at BCCW.

This over crowding was recently made even worse by the closure of the Open Living Unit part of the prison. Your governments propensity to make the poor pay for your tax break to the rich has resulted in the poorest of the poor women being virtually stuffed into a grossly inadequate living spaces. Two women in a five by eight cell with a toilet and one bunk and a extra mattress to be thrown on the floor next to the toilet.

There are transmitted diseases in this prison. Women in here suffer a variety of aliments ranging from HIV, infections, Hep C, numerous skin and respiratory diseases, STD diseases and a plethora of mental and emotional disturbances that underlie many of the addiction problems. And with the many drastic cut backs in prison staff many other inmate health problems simply go unnoticed.

Sir, you and the Premier may think that because there is little outside sympathy for prisoners that we may be treated as waste material to be managed, and a provincial government who treats us in such barbaric ways will eventually answer not only to this province, but to the opinion of the world.

Betty Krawczyk
CS # 03793924

You can write Betty:
c/o Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women
7900 Fraser Park Drive
Burnaby, BC
V5J 5H1

More details see and