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:
Are you in favour of Kingston's prison farms re-opening?
- Something else entirely (I'll tell you in the comments). (56%, 85 Votes)
- Yes. They never should have closed them in the first place. (39%, 59 Votes)
- No. They're too expensive to operate. (3%, 5 Votes)
- Not sure. Do they actually give inmates useful skills? (2%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 152
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.