Try this: Google “prison criticisms of Canada’s federal system.”
The Office of the Correctional Investigator releases an Annual Report as a review of Correctional Service of Canada’s operation during its previous twelve months. There are few laurels, many barbs, numerous recommendations, and a lengthy section of charted statistics. What is notable throughout these dozens of pages is the year after year repetitiveness of some of the report’s judgements, and the prison agency’s evasions and rejections of the OCI’s counsel for improved outcomes.
The correctional investigator heads a multi-million-dollar-a-year exercise, backed by investigators and support staff, to scrutinize a cocooned government bureau. The OCI can access people, places, papers where conversation, observation, and examination flows to the summaries, deliberations, and suggestions that are the meat of its work. That yearly report justifies the effort. It represents millions of spent dollars and thousands of public service hours in preparation. Parliament expresses its gratitude, moves on to other business, the report is carefully filed, and another groundhog-year begins.
At what point do honest, straight-shooting, stand-up men and women cry “enough”? At what point is there the demand that their hard work has meaning, that the annual thanks-very-much-and-now-go-back-and-start-over doesn’t cut it, ignores the unsound status quo, and won’t make Canada safer? Where is the screaming from the rooftops?
There are rooftops in Ottawa. Why is it so quiet? Why indeed.
The correctional investigator mirrors in a very public way the experience of hundreds of individuals and organizations who work for carceral change and reform in this country, turnoverarocktoday.com included.
In searching our files for data on another topic, an issue of Klassen Mailing List relevant to this posting stood out. The precursor to turnoverarocktoday.com, Klassen Mailing List had the same purpose as its digital successor but was printed and distributed to a cross-country mailing list.
Issue #12 was published on November 6, 2007 with the title “Correctional Service of Canada….making me proud to be an ashamed Canadian!” In part, it reported on an information picket we set up outside CSC’s Ontario District Office on Dundas Street West in Toronto on Thursday, October 11 of that year.
Issue #12 also set out a list of eleven ‘bones to pick’ with CSC:
- Limitations and delays in health care delivery,
- the scam the Millennium telephone system is,
- the inconsequential grievance and complaints process,
- lack of adequate accountability and transparency,
- the absence of due process in so many instances,
- some dubious professionalism,
- examples of inaccuracies and fabrications to the information in offenders’ files,
- limited educational opportunities,
- the inefficacy of cookie-cutter programs,
- a dearth of substantive job skills and trades training programs, and,
- in general, a pervasive failure to meet the burden of the CSC Mission Statement.
Only one item from this list has been resolved. For the last many years, Bell Canada’s telephone system in federal prisons now reflects reasonable tariffs for prepaid and collect calls. Bell still is securely in control of the telephone service contracts and continues to gather benefits from its monopoly.
That’s it. That’s all. And other sources have a longer list. Then too, Klassen Mailing List was more polite than turnoverarocktoday.com.
Where is the minister in all this? A good question. We’ve contacted current Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino often. He seems to be absent from the prison file.
Portage-free letters will reach him at the House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6. His office phone is 613-992-6361, and there’s a fax number, 613-992-9791.