This week the local news media carried a story about me and my latest book.

Surrey writer locked out of prison

Author Ed Griffin has been told he can’t volunteer in B.C. penitentiaries

Surrey author and writing coach Ed Griffin has been locked out of jail.

  • Griffin, an author of several books, poetry, plays and short stories, has been teaching writing to inmates at prisons in the province for years.
  • Founder of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Griffin is a local icon in the writing community.
  • As he has in the past, Griffin sent a manuscript – his latest book “Delaney’s Hope” – to an inmate for editing.
  • Officials with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) didn’t like the content. One chapter portrayed the rape of a young girl.
  • Griffin is quick to point out he dealt with the subject matter sensitively and didn’t glorify it.
  • CSC officials weren’t impressed.
  • On Aug. 19, Zender Katz, the assistant warden at Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, wrote Griffin saying his clearance to enter the prison as a volunteer was being revoked.
  • “You brought and distributed a manuscript which you were not authorized to bring into the institution; therefore, you were in breach of your volunteer role,” Katz wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to Griffin. “It was especially concerning that the manuscript you wrote, and provided, describes explicit adult sexual interaction with children and sexual abuse details.
  • “Given the nature of our business, regrettably, I must terminate your volunteer activities at this site and with the CSC.”
  • Griffin believes the problem has more to do with his blog, which is critical of the correctional service, than with his book.
  • He notes that at his appeal, officials noted he writes a blog called “Prison Uncensored,” where he is quite critical of the system.
  • “I sincerely believe that my severance was related to my blog,” Griffin said.
  • Reached by telephone Thursday, Katz said he had no comment, referring the call to the prison’s media relations department.
  • A representative from that department declined comment, citing the privacy act.

What should my response be? Does this relate to writing? Yes, in my opinion. A teacher has a right to move his student one step further, by asking him for comments on a draft novel. This was just between the student and myself. But, as they often do, the prison system made a far bigger issue of it. And I understand that when this issue became public, the prison system banned the guys from meeting on their own. Strange.

Your thoughts?

  1. Catana says:

    Move on, Ed. If their position hasn’t budged since you first wrote about it, it isn’t going to. Prisons are very sensitive about any subject matter that would “encourage” prisoners to think about illegalities, specifically anything sexual. And those decisions can be so arbitrary that there’s no way to fight them. Put your energy where you can still be useful.

  2. Carol says:

    I’m sorry to hear of this, Ed, but must admit I’m not surprised. As Catana as said, your best move now is probably to move on to other endeavours.

  3. Absolutely typical that they would refuse to respond, using idiotic excuses. CSC tries, and succeeds, at avoiding responsibility for everything they do. This is significant because they screw up so much.

  4. Joanne says:

    I am quite happy, Ed, that you got this story into the media. At this point you have little to lose and people need to know what goes on. I do agree, with Catana, however, that it is time for you to stop fighting the system and putting your energies where you can have greater impact.

    It is so sad that the men can no longer meet. I mean what do they think this was, some sort of group that would incite anarchy? Canadian (and all similar) prisons based on the punishment model need to realize that punishment only breeds anger and writers write what they are passionate about. If you increase the level of anger by the current mistreatment, then expect the result you will get.

  5. Aina Baron says:

    I think it is too bad and it must be so good for some of the inmates that have to get “something off their chest” so to speak. It could be the very thing that we as taxpayers foot the bill for expensive ‘experts’ to handle or try to. I am very sorry be cause writing can be such good outlet for emotions and supressed feelings. What are they thinking?l I am also a writer so I do understand the therapeutic value of ,not only learning a new skill but being able to write your thoughts down on paper. I am also a volunteer visitor at Pacific

  6. Meredith Egan says:

    Do you want to go back? If so, that’s a totally different conversation best had off the internet and out of the media.

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