Kemptville Jail

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by Willem Van Dam

The Ontario Government is planning, without local consultation, to build an adult correctional facility on the edge of Kemptville. At present there are 25 such jails in Ontario, with six jails built after the year 2000, Kemptville Jail will be the seventh. Two jails have been built near the edge of the small towns of Lindsay (pop. 20,713, built 2002), and Penetanquishene (pop. 8,962, built 2001), and one in a rural area east of Windsor (built 2013). Kemptville (pop. 3,911), scheduled next, will be the smallest town thus far selected.

The claim is for better jobs, more business, and growth from the new jail complex. But are these claims substantiated? Not as far as the independent research report “Economic Impact of Prisons in Rural Areas” by Dexter Whitfield, and “Prison Impacts: a Review of the Research” by Katherine A Carlson of Peninsula College. “The building of prisons in rural towns was claimed to provide a ‘significant economic boost’ because they were a ‘recession-proof form of economic development’. It was widely believed that prisons had positive effects on local economies, with no negative effects on property values, public safety, or the quality of life.

A study of prison towns in California revealed that the average commuting distance driven by prison staff was twice the average commuter range. On average, less than 20% of prison jobs go to current residents of a town with new prisons. In Minnesota, only 23 of Rush City’s prison 220 employees live in the town, with 137 living within a 30 mile radius. Fremont campaigned for a Federal prison to be located in the town and raised US$123,000 to purchase a site which was donated to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. By 1998, the prison had 2,500 prisoners. Very few local people were recruited to the 1,105 jobs, and all supervisory posts were recruited from other federal prisons. 72% of staff lived outside the county (Housing Assistance Council, 2000). In Oregon, 15% of prison staff at the Two Rivers Correctional Institute at Umatilla live locally, and at the Snake River Prison, 58% live in Idaho. (comment mine: even prison staff do not wish to live close to the prison at which they are employed)

The recruitment of minority staff to create a diverse workforce has been another driver for recruiting prison staff from outside rural areas. “Minority staff have to be recruited from outside the immediate area, often from other institutions, and because of the hostility of the local white population, most choose to commute as much as two hours each way rather than move” (Carroll, 2004). Prison, 58% live in Idaho. (comment mine: even prison staff do not wish to live close to the prison at which they are employed)

The recruitment of minority staff to create a diverse workforce has been another driver for recruiting prison staff from outside rural areas. “Minority staff have to be recruited from outside the immediate area, often from other institutions, and because of the hostility of the local white population, most choose to commute as much as two hours each way rather than move” (Carroll, 2004).

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