Letter to the editor – Correctional Facility

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Dear Editor,

May I comment upon the correspondence regarding the proposed Kemptville Jail and in particular the provocative use of the words “shocked”, “shaken” and “horrified”.

There was the alarmist implication that a “community safety zone” could be violated, creating an unexplained danger to the school children and hospital staff within this zone. Are we to imagine this as being a threat by marauding and desperate escapees from the (secure) Jail? One must assume that the authors of these letters avoided visiting Kingston prior to the closure of the Penitentiary and never visit Brockville where presumably there is the ever present spectre of the schools and hospital besieged by roaming paedophiles, rapists and other assorted criminals (with apologies to the people of Brockville).

I worked as a Nurse in a Hospital close to a High Security 800 male occupant prison. We frequently had prisoners admitted as patients, after all, they too suffer and require hospital treatment. As a young nurse, the only downside to nursing these men was the occasional belligerence from the minority of Correctional Officers who inevitably accompanied these particular patients. I went on to work as a Community Nurse in the residential area immediately outside of the prison and never experienced any fear or anxiety due to its proximity.

Years later, I found myself and my two young sons living close to a 900 male inmate Maximum Security prison, the occupants being those serving life sentences for crimes such as terrorism and murder. The only disruption to our lives was the odd traffic delay due to armoured and armed convoys taking prisoners to and from court appearances.

Correctional facilities are occupied by sons, fathers, brothers and increasingly, grandfathers. There is a requirement to situate them in our, and their, communities, without resorting to unpleasant “Nimbyism” (Not In My Back Yard). The positive aspect of this proposal is the creation of employment both in the short and long term for the local area and the accompanying boost to the local economy. A Jail is a long term project. Brockville Jail has been a constant employer since 1842, rather more employment security than Hershey in Smith Falls? Perhaps this state of the art facility will prove a benchmark standard for the rest of Canada, with spinoff employment in the Correctional Services Training Development sector, and creation of Best Practice models?

While we are considering the safety of our own community, perhaps a thought should be given to the safety of the inmates and staff of current facilities. My understanding is that such is the state of overcrowding, disrepair and antiquity, both staff and occupants are at unacceptably high risk from stress and physical and psychological injury.

I hope that the upcoming consultations will go a long way to reducing prejudices and fears to a more realistic and acceptable level. I also have the apparently futile hope that it may disabuse those who seem convinced that this development is the beginning of a downward slide into a totalitarian state presided over by a Fascist dictatorship. It would be nice to think that we’re all grown up enough to realize that a democratically elected government has to make some decisions which will not be universally well received.

Jails are a fact of life, regardless of our opinion of them, and this one is desperately needed. There are those who would prefer to see a development of what they perceive as being more socially acceptable.

How about a Trump Resort with casino and golf course? That wouldn’t be at all controversial.

Pippa Wright

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