One of the arguments that has been used against siting the proposed correctional facility (prison) in Kemptville has been the lack of support services in the area. However, the John Howard Society has been involved in talks with the municipality, as well as provincial officials, about providing those services to inmates once the prison opens in a few years time.
In a conversation with the Times, Julie Langan, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Kingston and District, commented:
“We share the community’s focus on public safety in Kemptville, and have been providing effective bail supervision and re-entry support services to incarcerated and recently released populations in Leeds and Grenville for almost five years. We have supervised over 300 people in Leeds and Grenville, many of whom were released from the Brockville Jail, helping them address the reasons they have come in conflict with the law and deal with their charges. We are keen to similarly support Kemptville by providing the new correctional institution and the community the supports it needs to facilitate the safe reintegration of its inmates.”
For over 60 years, the John Howard Society of Kingston and District has been working towards effective, just, and humane response to crime and its causes. Their frontline staff serve at-risk and justice-involved clients in correctional institutions in Kingston and surrounding areas, including Leeds and Grenville.
Ms. Langan pointed out to the Times that those housed in provincial correctional institutions are those sentenced to two years or less, or those awaiting trial. Those sentenced for crimes that are far more serious tend to be housed in federal correctional institutions. “63% of all admissions in the 2018-2019 were for non-violent offences, according to the Auditor General’s report (2019).”
In support of her contention that the presence of a prison in a community does not of necessity lead to an increase in crime rates, Ms. Langan used the example of the City of Kawartha Lakes.
“The Central East Correctional Centre was built in 2002, and since then the City of Kawartha Lakes has seen a steady decrease in their crime severity index. This cannot be attributed to the building of the institution, it can be used as an example of an institution having been recently built in a smaller community, not increasing violent crime in the area. Kawartha Lakes’ crime rate has been under the provincial average most of that time.”
With the involvement of the John Howard Society, it is to be hoped that some, at least, of the concerns raised in this community about the proposed prison may be eased. Preparations for the eventual presence of the prison in our community will continue between the Society and the Municipality. Ms. Langan confirmed that: “We have had discussions with Mayor Nancy Peckford on how we can best support the Kemptville community, and look forward to continuing these conversations.”