Thursday, August 12, 2010
CSC to expand 35 institutions-- waste of money!
According to a blog post by Rob Tripp of the Kingston Whig Standard (read 6 August 2010 post), Chris Price - Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, Correctional Service of Canada - has compiled a list of federal penitentiaries where new units will be built.
The report states that "Price says new units will be built at the following men's prisons: Springhill Institution, Westmorland Institution, Atlantic Institution, Montée Saint-François, La Macaza, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Cowansville, Federal Training Centre, Donnacona Institution, Frontenac Institution, Fenbrook Institution, Pittsburgh Institution, Bath Institution, Beaver Creek Institution, Collins Bay Institution, Rockwood Institution, Bowden Institution, Riverbend Institution, Drumheller Institution, Drumheller Institution (Minimum), Edmonton Institution, Bowden Institution, RHC/Pacific Institution, Pê Sâkâstêw Centre, Mission Institution, Willow Cree Healing Centre, Kent Institution, Ferndale Institution, [and] William Head Institution" (see Map of Canadian Federal Penitentiaries).
The blog post also notes that facility expansions will occur at "all six women's prisons: Nova Institution for Women, Joliette Institution, Grand Valley Institution for Women..., Edmonton Institution for Women, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, [and] Fraser Valley Institution for Women".
If the details in this report turnout to be accurate, it would signal that for this round of penitentiary expansion, CSC and the current federal government have adopted "pre-designation" and "closed-siting" as the strategies to construct and select locations for what, given the scope of the overall initiative and the new units being established, will essentially be new facilities.
According to Secherest (1992: 96), pre-designation "involves identification of sites in advance of need by using exclusionary or suitability criteria to screen out areas or to evaluate potential sites". This strategy is usually used when planning to build new facilities in areas where there are already penal institutions. While it is unknown whether CSC had developed such a list prior to the manufacturing of the need for new prisons as part of the Conservatives' punishment agenda, by building facilities on existing "penitentiary reserves" - large parcels of land owned by the Government of Canada where penitentiaries are often housed - they will likely be able to circumvent the usual resistance that is encountered when they have tried to establish facilities in towns and cities that don't have a large prison in their backyard (for a recent example, see CSC article on the siting of Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener).
In the case where a host community has not been consulted about the looming expansion of one or more federal penitentiaries in their backyard, it can be argued that CSC and the Feds have also employed a closed-siting strategy "which places the local community in the position of reacting to a government proposal in an adversarial fashion at the time that permits are requested" should they oppose a prison construction initiative (Secherest, 1992: 97).
Taken together, these "decide, announce, defend" approaches (Chambers, 1989) represent the minority Conservative Government of Canada's unwillingness to consult with key stakeholders prior to implementing their policies, let alone developing them. We can now add another checkmark in the column of 'transparent' government.
What a complete waste of money. Prisons are a quick fix to crime, not a long term solution. To effectively reduce, and prevent crime we need to address the root causes of crime through community programming. Prisons fail at addressing the root causes of crime due to the negative environment, subculture, pro criminal attitudes and behaviours, drugs, gangs, etc. The courts need to rely less on imprisonment and more on community alternative sanctions for criminals.