Friday Foto

Collins Bay Penitentiary, prison farm, corrections canada, kingston, ontarioWhen I was a young lad, I was briefly under the impression that Collins Bay Penitentiary was in fact Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  After visiting Walt Disney World around the age of 4, I returned to the Limestone City with the knowledge that Collins Bay Pen was not a fairytale castle.  I mean let’s face it, the Magic Kingdom doesn’t even have a red roof.  And why would Walt Disney need to build huge, fortress-like walls around a majestic playground.  Fast forward to about a year ago, when we caught wind that the federal government was considering cancelling the prison farm programs at Collins Bay and Joyceville institutions.  The rumour mill instantly went from zero to crazy, while many speculated about what would happen to the farm land around Collins Bay.  Would it eventually be sold to the City and become an industrial zone?  Perhaps private developers would by up large chunks of land and build condos, and more big box stores.  And the latest revelation, what if Collins Bay Penitentiary were to expand and become a super-mega-prison?

Personally, I don’t buy the argument that the prison farm program needs to be cut to help ease our budget.  I think that the benefits including training inmates as well as the added green space, far outweigh our need for condos, super-prisons, or even an Ikea.  If you agree, perhaps you’ll consider attending an evening of music and words on March 20th, to save Canada’s prison farms.  Special thanks to NapaneeGal for today’s photo, which is magical.  However it’s not the Magic Kingdom.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

3 thoughts on “Friday Foto

  • I think the stated argument for closing the farm betray a bias in the government ranks. Working the farm is seen in some quarters as a "holiday" for the inmates. They're not in a cell, so they're not being punished. To hell with rehabilitation, prisons are about punishment and retribution.

    Of course, that also ignores the fact that the very existence of the farms contribute to a certain amount of better behaviour: you have to be a model prisoner to be transferred to the farm. If the farm is shut down, then what?

    Now, more than ever, we need people willing to work the land. Factory agriculture is only good for the corporation. If the government is truly concerned about budget, there are a lot of things they can do. Starting with running the farm like one in the real world: brand new equipment every few years just doesn't happen on a real farm. Along with working the crops, the guys will have to be able patch together equipment that they'll run into out in the world. They can save a ton and make the skills learned there even more relevant.

    Of course, they won't be able to open a super-prison here if the farm stays.

    • Quite right, Cruachan. And this kind of institution works at rehabilitation: regardless of whether the inmates actually ever work in agriculture in the outside world, working with livestock and nature can generate self-respect, responsibility and even compassion. Super-Max style facilities just breed gangs, drug-addiction, mental breakdown, violence and resentment. I can't believe that the Harper government really thinks that copying the USA, the country with practically the worst record on prisons of any democratic country in the world, is any kind of a good idea. The short-term balance sheet rules but, as usual, the price will be paid by future generations if these cuts go ahead.

    • My four year old has also exclaimed 'disney castle' as we head down Bath Road – good call Harvey!

      Interestingly, several studies have noted that the mere opportunity of offering meaningful work contributes in significant ways to lowering rates or recidivism. In fact the prison farm may not turn out agricultural workers per se, but rather offer the chance for inmates to learn responsibility, something they take to future endeavors.

      I'm not convinced that it is the big bad Harper meanies behind this. More likely there is bureaucratic inertia to rationalise properties which have been deemed to be costly. This sort of thing goes on regardless of which flavour of political master is in charge.

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