Locked Out

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 handing a draft novel to a student relate to writing? Yes, in my opinion. A teacher has a right to move his student one step further, by asking him for comments. 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 even meeting on their own. Strange.

Your thoughts?

 

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2 responses to “Locked Out

  1. Hi Ed, Hard to know where to begin. Of course you had every right to share your work with your student. There was no ‘file’ embedded in the work I presume. The system is so afraid of change. Things might actually get better for the men and women in custody. What a crock to keep someone like you from doing what you do so well. Just keep on, keeping on. Perhaps some media attention might be a good idea.

    Delora

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