……TO DELIVER EMPLOYMENT AND BENEFITS TO 18,000 PLUS FEDERAL CIVIL SERVANTS.
HOW COULD ANYONE THINK OTHERWISE?
Thousands of men and women, dozens of organizations and groups, many of note like the John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Correctional Investigator of Canada, and a particularly important entity we know as the Supreme Court of Canada, have laboured for decades to persuade, cajole, convince, and even force Correctional Service of Canada’s compliance with it’s Mission Statement on the one hand, and to proactively adopt and initiate progressive correctional practices on the other.
Yes, there’s progress, recalling Margaret Mead’s: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” But progress in our prisons is slow, limited, sometimes moving under protest, and often confronted by clever sabotage. There’s this sense that CSC pays lip service to what it sees as unwelcome interference while devising circumventions behind closed doors. It gives no inkling that the prison industry is being dragged screaming and howling into a future where it sees no benefit to its viability. That should be concerning. It is howling and screaming, but we don’t see that. This is an agency that has become practiced at keeping prying eyes out, and accountability and transparency at bay.
Why? What’s going on?
Canada established this office as a correctional portal for people who come into conflict with the law, and assessed as meriting confinement, and subject to programming and guidance to permit a safe return to society. It’s purposely named the Correctional Service of Canada, functions under federal legislation that is complemented by dozens of Commissioner’s Directives to define, flesh out, and detail policy and practice. Further, there’s even limited allowances for institutional management to fine tune for local conditions.
The terrain is landscaped to meet the challenges for which Correctional Service of Canada is purposed. Billions goes into operations. CSC has the resources to aggressively lead in the field and be ahead of its critics. No doubt, there are some earnest efforts to mimic a correcting system, and personnel who take their work seriously. Despite this, where is the commitment to stay attuned to best practices, to meet the needs of the incarcerated, and prioritize positive outcomes? All the while, how much is spent on legal fees to defend claims against CSC? How much is spent to settle actions? How much is spent on spin doctors to convince the public that CSC is doing what it is intended to do? The groups and associations and courts and women and men who argue the delinquency of the system have good cause.
“When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” Adapt this Mark Twain quote to our premise here that Correctional Service of Canada exists to deliver employment and benefits to 18,000 plus federal civil servants, then “the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” How could it be otherwise?
What’s next? Simply put, another round is what’s next, followed by another round, followed by…….. There are objectives worth the pursuit. No, this is a cause demanding the pursuit. As one cycle follows another, there are always new people, new groups, new forces ready to take up the torch from flagging veterans.
And so, we begin. We are always beginning.
(Note: Correctional Service of Canada is only one small piece of government. Just how much smoke and mirrors might there be elsewhere in Ottawa?)