The business of detention…

    Sept 9, 2015

Herald News (Halifax) – Andrea Gunn
Springhill prison: More money spent, but fewer inmates

We sometimes forget that besides being a prison, a prison is a business and needs customers.  Springhill is a medium security prison in Nova Scotia that was one of the earliest – 2010 – to get a $40 million addition of two units providing an additional 192 beds, said also to bring 100 jobs.  Now, the prison with the capacity for 550 has only 378 and local politicians want to bring in inmates from elsewhere where there is certain overcrowding.   Related article:  Alternet (US)  – Laura L. Cepero    Toxic Traps: Environmental Hazards Threaten 2 Federal Supermax Prisons

Reader Supported News / The Daily Beast (RSN, US) –
Prison Gets Rich Locking Up Preschoolers

Here’s a new way for making money: Lock up infants, toddlers and pregnant women.  Every head counts for the Corrections Corporation of America and its private prison run detention centres for illegal immigrants.  The growth factor in the last year and a half has been enormous from a scant 90 beds to huge institutions, one of which brought $65.9 million in profits for CCA in its second quarter of 2015.      Related article:  Gainesville Sun (FL) – Critics take aim at juvenile detention firm   Related article:  The Chronicle of Social Change (US) – John Kelly (Youth Services Insider)   Deterrence Research is a Selling Point for Juvenile Justice Community Programs  Related article: Indian Country South Dakota, US) – Christina Rose   ‘Terrible Racial Disparities’ Not Fixed With SD Juvenile Justice Reform   (The first of a three part series on the use of the boot camp model for juvenile custody.)

Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten
Scarborough losing its only youth shelter – Second Base Youth Shelter will close in October  

There are, according to the estimates, about 2000 kids aged 16-24 homeless in Toronto each night.  This shelter has 57 beds but on average only fills 42 each night.  There are now 415 beds available in Toronto.  A city spokesperson says they will go to request for services but anticipate opening 2 additional units for 55 beds for the LGBTQ youth in the fall.    Related article:  CBC News    Burdened by debt and slipping behind, survey respondents say – 48% said they might be in trouble if a single paycheque was delayed

Ministry of Community and Correctional Services
Crime Prevention in Ontario: A Framework for Action

The report is a 40 page downloadable pdf painting a picture of what crime prevention is and what it may be able to do to keep our communities safer.  The report includes some core statistical information about crime in Ontario, definitions, risk factors, protective factors, etc.

Tough on Crime – The Novel – David Holdsworth

A timely publication from Friesen Press about a Prime Minister who loses a few seats and decides to storm on with the toughest tough on crime bill to date involving also a new prison in Gatineau Park in Ottawa.  A feisty mayor and the municipality’s mascot Arthur the Skunk lead the fight and turn the tables.  Book launching today!   E-book is $9.99.

CBC News – Karina Roman
Only 9 Syrian refugee cases offered on private sponsor list 

Are you wondering why refugee sponsorship can take up to four years before they arrive on your doorstep?  Many NGO or faith based organizations have agreements with the federal government for private sponsorship and once the NGO is ready, they turn to the feds for a list of already approved refugees claimants.  It is called the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) list.  The Syrian crisis has been building for four years and the government has declared itself ready to accept 10,000.  Citizenship and Immigration is mum on the apparent contradictions.   “Unless there’s a radical change, I’m not optimistic about meeting the goals, and it’s a terrible, terrible shame, because people are desperate over there.” Said Don Smith, Anglican diocese of Ottawa refugee working group.   Related article: Globe and Mail – Marcus Gee    Canada’s failure to act on refugee crisis begins with Stephen Harper   Related article: Globe and Mail – Sean Fine     Government red tape a barrier to Canadians’ plans to assist refugees


Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)  have some questions for an All Candidates Meeting in Ottawa.  Readers may recall that the MOMS are a group of mothers whose children are in jail for a variety of reasons but many because mental health issues contributed.  Below are three questions they want to ask the candidates on their family’s justice issues.  Their web site is:

1.  Social Inclusion. Question directed to the NDP and Liberal candidates.

Howard Sapers, the current Federal Correctional Investigator, has made multiple recommendations for the appropriate treatment of the mentally ill who come in conflict with the law. Currently, many are incarcerated without appropriate facilities or treatment resulting in overuse of segregation for prolonged periods of time, exacerbating their condition and resulting in extreme isolation and worsening of their illness.

Is your party committed to following the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator’s annual reports, as well as those from the Ashley Smith inquiry?

2. Income Security and employment opportunities. Question directed to the NDP and Liberal candidates.

Recent changes to the Pardon Act (Record Suspension) drastically increased costs to applicants, virtually doubled waiting times & completely eliminated some people from accessing this program. Having a pardon is essential to opening employment opportunities and becoming financially self-sufficient. It has historically had a 96% success rate, an admirable figure.

Will your party return to an accessible and evidence-based Pardon Policy for all citizens who have paid their debt to society?

3. Social Inclusion – Correctional Practice. Question directed to the NDP and Liberal candidates.

Even though crime rates have been steadily declining for the past two decades, current correctional practices have seen the escorted and unescorted day passes severely decline. Increasing numbers of inmates are being held past their parole eligibility dates, many to statutory release and even warrant expiry. Research clearly indicates that gradual and supervised release into the community has the best opportunity for a positive outcome for the offender and the community-at-large. It allows the person to reintegrate into society and establish positive social contacts. These measures are no longer being followed.

Will your party return to evidence-based policies that not only decrease recidivism and save taxpayer dollars, but also make our communities safer?