Prison Farms Will Re-Open in Kingston

Prison Farm, Kingston, Ontario

In 2010, the Harper government announced significant budget cuts, which included the closure of six prison farms across the country.  Many Kingstonians took issue with the decision, as both Collins Bay and Joyceville penitentiaries had long-standing farm operations that were to be shuttered.  After weeks of protests, dozens were arrested, the cows were shipped away, and although the battle appeared to have been lost, the fight to Save our Prison Farms was just getting started.

Fast forward to 2013 where the newly elected Liberals committed to consider re-opening the farms.   Prison Farm supporters continued to press, and in May 2017, the government established a panel that was tasked to investigate the future of penitentiary farms.  The latest chapter of this saga was written last week, where a single paragraph on page 212 of the federal budget revealed a $4.3 million commitment to reinstate the prison farms at both Collins Bay and Joyceville institutions.  The cows will finally come home, but not before a bit of work is done to get things ready.

Accordingly, we want to know:

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Jeff Peters, an enduring prison farm supporter and member of the aforementioned panel to re-instate them, admits that the road to get here has been “a really long haul”, but now his sights are set on repairs and upgrades to infrastructure in order to have the operations back up and running by next winter.  Peters believes that the new local-area prison farms will have more to offer inmates than just cows, as chickens, pigs and possibly bees will introduced as a part of the updated program.  That program will provide inmates with even more opportunities to acquire new skills, while preparing for employment and successful reintegration and rehabilitation into the community.

Are you in favour of the decision to re-instate Kingston’s prison farms? Do you think that the program actually gives inmates useful skills they’ll use when they’re released? What, if anything, should the city do to commemorate the occasion of the re-0pening of the farms?

Photo credit to Steven Zolneczko.

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...

10 thoughts on “Prison Farms Will Re-Open in Kingston

  • I would much prefer the Sanctuary/Plant-Based farming approach suggested by Evolve Our Prison Farms. You know, bring the cows home (or their babies, the original herd is probably now gone – too old to produce milk at the rate these females are expected to, so killed). But don’t make inmates have to kill them, or their male babies, or separate the babies from their mothers at birth, or slaughter the young males for meat, or impregnate the females artificially etc etc etc….

    • Posted this comment hours ago on this Kingstonist article after voting “Something else entirely (I’ll tell you in the comments)” – it doesn’t appear that the comment was approved.

      I support the return of the farms as long as the Pen Herd is brought back to sanctuary, not dairy. Animal agriculture is terrible for the environment and animal diets are bad for human health. Plant-based agriculture is much better and less expensive. And dairy is not ideal for animal therapy, it involves sexual interference, breaking up natural families, and killing. Not the right kind of therapy for prisoners. Sanctuary is about valuing life for its own sake, the perfect kind of therapy for prisoners.

    • Agreed, Rebecca. Where exactly is the “empathy and rehabilitation” component of having violent offenders nurture and then violently, callously slaughter innocent, terrified animals who cherish their lives as much as any human being? Just more victims of violence. Lose/lose. Allow the prisoners to practice kindness, patience, teamwork, problem solving, and empathy by caring for farm animals in a sanctuary setting until the end of the animals’ natural lives.

  • I wish could I could have grown up on a farm. I would have had a lot more experience in doing things. You are a jack of all trades when farming. Every day there is a new challenge. Every job is transferable skills to other jobs.My wife was raised on a farm she was luck. We now run a small working farm for the past 18 years y

  • It was a total insult to the farming community when the prison farms were closed. The then minister said basically the inmates were not learning any thing. He was wrong ,farming has all kinds of transferable job skills.

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