Friday, May 27, 2011

Should Prisoners Be Put To Work?

Today's poll question; should prisoners be put to work? Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak has announced his plan to put provincial inmates to work cleaning up garbage, graffiti, and repaying their debt to society by doing something good and productive. This has outraged some and pleased others. Personally I have no objection to this policy decision, though I would encourage some form of compensation to the inmates, be it cigarettes, increased television privileges, a few copies of Hustler, or maybe an extra pudding pop after supper. You know, things with tangible value in the prison economy that can be bartered or enjoyed.

Offering minor compensation to these prisoners for their labour would certainly increase productivity and willingness to cooperate, but I do not agree that forcing them to pick up garbage at the side of the road represents any kind of crime against humanity. Prison is supposed to be in part a deterrent to committing crime. It is supposed to suck. The one counter argument that I might listen to are from those who think prisoners should remain in the prison for the purposes of public safety. I too have seen the movie 48 hours.


  1. In Alberta prisoners do such things as cutting grass and shoveling snow for disabled seniors, helping small communities erect facilities for local fairs, help charitable foundations like habitat for humanity in sorting and storing donations, as well as a number of other projects. This, however, is only done by prisoners in minimum security facilities. While I like this idea, I don't think it would be too smart to have people from medium security institutions involved in this type of activity. As for maximum security inmates, almost all of them are serving their time in federal prisons which wouldn't be affected by provincial law.

  2. It strikes a chord with the law and order types but you know who will be screaming when the first prisoner escape leads to injury or death. Bad idea IMO.

  3. I didn't vote Iceman because I think the idea is a good one if offered as an incentive program.
    Prison is boring, same places, faces and problems 24/7.
    The best approach is to offer as you suggest, more privilege's, or the chance to accumulate a small nest egg and a positive attitude.
    I am not suggesting union scale here.
    They will get out eventually and to be able to look after their needs with an earned nest-egg could be a big help.
    The best thing you can give anyone is the self respect that comes with a job.
    Cheers Bubba

  4. It's a nice little policy. However, it is ranked 87th on my own wish list of Campaign policies I would like to here from Hudak.

  5. in New York state, I saw a crew building a playground in a state park.
    they filed off the bus, lined up with their shovels waiting for their turn to shovel.
    looked to me like they saw it as a priviledge to be out with the crew.

  6. So, your point of view is to pay them in contraband? Cigarettes? Pornography? Give them stuff to "use in the prison economy?" That would be like giving someone on the street payment in illegal drugs - they are not allowed "cigarettes" or porn - it is contraband. Not such a "pragmatic" law and order kind of guy, are you? I mean, the proof is in the pudding. Furthermore, you obviously have no idea whatsoever what is involved in the provincial correctional system. There are maximum security provincial institutions; where you would get "the majority are serving federal time" is laughable considering how many people get a two-year-less-a-day sentence to be served in a maximum security provincial institution. Do some reading on provincial offender classification and you'll see why it makes absolutely no sense to put 2700 inmates (a good chunk which are sex offenders, wife-beaters and child molesters - the days of all inmates being "general population" are over) into a park to "rake leaves". Adding a program to put a selected, "fence-cleared" minimum risk offender into the community under close supervision is one thing - but "real life" is not a movie, my friend.

  7. Come on man, everything that happens in movies is real. Everybody knows that. Now you are just being ridiculous...

    So far only 91% of poll respondents think that prisoners should be put to work. I must be way out to lunch on this one.

  8. Here is some light reading for you. And here is some more for you. Pay specific attention to article "f". I'm sure if you polled the whole prison population too as to whether they would get cigarettes and porn as a reward to working, you would have 100% in favour too.

    Perhaps you should change your poll to read "do you think inmates should be rewarded with candy, cigarettes and porn for working in the community" as you suggested, your result would be much different.

  9. Haven't you seen the Shawshank Redemption? Prisoners love working. Dude, they wouldn't play it on TV if it wasn't real. I did advocate for them to receive compensation, like a cold beer on a hot day.

    "I think a man working outdoors feels more like a man if he can have a bottle of suds. That's only my opinion."

  10. Let them start with the maximum sentence for violent crimes and then work toward an early release. Two days worked for every one day reduction.

  11. the late sam cookeMay 28, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Listen! That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang.

  12. I worked with convicts,now called "inmates" for many years,all from Provincial prisons.

    The one common trait they had was pure laziness,they had to be herded about like a bunch of little kids. Self-discipline among them was non-existent. Work ethic,absolutely none.

    Most inmates in the Provincial jails will be out within a few months,and most are NOT dangerous.Their crimes are usually drug or alcohol related,dealing,petty theft, B & E's. A good percentage are FAS kids from a well-known demographic.

    They are not the imitation hard cases one sees in the movies,just a bunch of undisciplined losers caught in a revolving door that turns from low grade crimes to jail,release to welfare,then more shitty little crimes,jail,parole,and it goes on for years.

    Occasionally an inmate will see the light,often when he hooks up with a positive influence in one type of relationship or another,and I think THAT is where the work program is a good idea.

    With these guys,it's like starting at kindergarten level,first you have to teach them to get out of bed,shit,shower,shave,
    ,eat breakfast,pick up a shovel,and actually DO some work.

    After a few months, the idea that they're doing something positive in their lives may seep through their thick skulls,and a modest wage ,banked for when they're paroled,can only be an incentive.

    If my language seems insensitive toward these "victims", you go work with 'em for 13 years as I did, outside the prisons, and you'll probably adopt the same attitude.

    If they get the idea that jail for the Winter isn't a big holiday complete with easily available dope,some might just decide to get a real job,and get the hell out of the revolving door,which can only be to society's benefit.

  13. The logistics of getting them to work outside the prison walls might be a challenge but I'm certainly in favor of inmates putting in a 8 hour work day like the rest of us and especially putting the "punitive" back into incarceration. There should definitely be no cable tv, gym equipment, tattoo equipment, etc. Incarceration should be as hectic, demanding and tiring as life outside the walls, without any of the perks.