"Bringing the outside world in": Canadian prisoners' correspondence with Claire Culhane, activist and penal abolitionist, 1976-1996

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Claire Culhane was a leading Canadian prisoners' rights activist and penal abolitionist from 1976 until her death in 1996. Over these two decades, she corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners to assist them with grievances and problems. A purposive sample of the 100 most voluminous prisoner files was undertaken which yielded 9,235 items for this exploratory analysis. A dual-methodology was selected for study through combining a content analysis with short verbatim excerpts from the archive and interviews with faculty. The focus of the content analysis is on overt and covert violence in prisons and prisoner resistance strategies - violent and non-violent. Excerpts allow a venue for the prisoner correspondents to express the issues in their own words, to show the humanness of those incarcerated, and to exemplify the methods and advice that Culhane used in her social justice advocacy work.
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