WHITBY, Sept. 5, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Hundreds of correctional officers demonstrated today in front of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's riding office in Whitby. The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN), in its visits throughout Ontario as part of its Presidents' Tour 2012, expressed particular concern about the repercussions of closing the Kingston Penitentiary and the Regional Treatment Centre (RTC).
Disquieting rate of double bunking
Closure of the Kingston Penitentiary and the Regional Treatment Centre - 600 beds in all - will have serious consequences for Ontario's inmate population. "The rate of double bunking will escalate in other institutions in the province. Our region is already witnessing the second highest increase in double bunking in the country," stated Jason Godin, Ontario Regional President for UCCO-SACC-CSN.
For example, at Frontenac, a minimum security institution in Kingston, 85% of the cells are occupied by two inmates. At Millhaven, a minimum security institution and the province's correctional intake centre, there is double bunking in 40% of the cells, and in 60% of the cells at the Beaver Creek and Pittsburgh institutions. "Double bunking represents a very real danger for our correctional officers," Jason Godin warned. "Every time they open the door of a cell with two inmates, they are exposed to more attacks and greater violence."
Reduced accessibility for rehabilitation programs
The 2,700 new cells announced by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews won't alleviate the situation in any way. "These cells are being built to counteract the effects of bills C-10 and C-25. They won't solve the problem of overcrowding in the penitentiaries. And no provision has been made to replace the isolation units and areas for private family visits with the closure of the Kingston Penitentiary. The closure will only make inmate rehabilitation programs less accessible. And that's not good news for correctional officers, for inmates or for the Canadian public," asserted Pierre Mallette, National President of UCCO-SACC-CSN.
Closure of the Kingston Penitentiary and the RTC will also have a major impact on the economy of the Kingston region, where the penitentiary employs a number of people. "UCCO-SACC-CSN is calling on Stephen Harper's government to reverse its decision to close penitentiaries, as the repercussions are being felt not only in the institutions but outside their walls as well. The Conservative government doesn't seem to have grasped the historical importance of the Kingston Penitentiary for the city and the province," Jason Godin added.
The Presidents' Tour 2012
After visiting the Atlantic region and Québec, the Presidents' Tour 2012 met with correctional officers from Kingston area institutions including Pittsburgh, Frontenac, Collins Bay, Joyceville, Millhaven, Bath, Regional Treatment Center and Warkworth. The tour will stop at Grand Valley, Beaver Creek, Fenbrook in the coming days, before heading to the Prairies towards the end of the week. It is making its way across the country to visit its members in Canada's 52 penitentiaries.
The aim of the Presidents' Tour is to inform correctional officers of the current state of negotiations with the Treasury Board and Correctional Service Canada, as well as to talk about the problems encountered in penitentiaries throughout the country.
UCCO-SACC-CSN represents 7,400 correctional officers working in Canada's 52 federal penitentiaries.
SOURCE: UNION OF CANADIAN CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS (UCCO-SACC-CSN)
For further information:
Noémi Desrochers, CSN Communications Department, Cell: 514 216-1825, Office: 514 598-2162
Source: Union of Canadian Correctional Officers - Syndicat des agents correctionnels du Canada UCCO-SACC-CSN