Kim Pate has been a vocal and compelling advocate for prisoners and prison reform for almost three decades. She didn’t need to attend an Informed Opinions workshop to appreciate the value of speaking to and through the media. But the front page profile in today’s Globe and Mail for the issue she most recently addressed in an op ed of her own, reinforces the message: if you’re seeking to raise awareness, increase understanding and influence policy on a particular issue, engaging mainstream media attention is enormously valuable.
Last November, in the context of a motion to expand the scope of an inquest into the death of the young inmate Ashley Smith, the Globe’s commentary web pages ran a piece by Kim on the incapacity of prisons to deal with the mentally ill. Two months later, the issue is the lead story on the paper’s front page, and features context and the following prominent pull quote from Kim:
“The women with the most significant mental health issues tend to be in maximum security, but they never have access to the very treatment units they most need.”
Although many advocates and scholars alike despair over the challenge of addressing complex issues in 10-second sound bites, Kim has – over her many years as the executive director of the Canadian Association for Elizabeth Fry Societies – developed the capacity to deliver clear and concise messages that add value, explain an issue, and make it easier for journalists to do their jobs.