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Please Mr. Harper Call Bob Runciman

Bruce Monkhouse

Pinball Dude
Staff member
Directing Staff
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Sampson to lead review of Cdn prison system


OTTAWA (CP) - The Tory cabinet minister who led Ontario's move toward private jails will head a review of federal prisons, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced Friday.

Rob Sampson was correctional services minister in the Mike Harris government that introduced Canada's first privately run boot camp for young offenders. The provincial Liberal regime did not renew the institution's contract.
Sampson's appointment, along with four other panel members with little formal corrections expertise, was swiftly dismissed by critics as a political ploy geared to tell the government what it wants to hear.

Day denied that Sampson's appointment signals a pending foray into American-style super jails run for profit.
"The question of privatization is not on the table," Day told a news conference. Still, his government's law-and-order plan may well require expanded or new prisons, he said.
"There may be situations where stand-alone facilities may be needed."

The Conservative tough-on-crime agenda has been red-flagged by criminologists who say it will throw more weight on a buckling system. They say proposed mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun and drug crimes, along with parole crackdowns, would swell prison populations to bursting without guaranteeing lower crime rates.
The pricey U.S. experience with private prisons suggests higher rates of return to jail, more in-custody incidents, more escapes and higher staff turnover.

Incarceration rates have quadrupled south of the border since the mid-1970s. There are now more than two million Americans behind bars, largely due to tougher U.S. sentencing and parole laws - exactly the kind of measures now proposed by the Tories.
And yet researchers such as Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, say record-low crime rates in the U.S. have much more to do with increased police resources, drug treatment programs and crime prevention efforts.

In Canada, the average yearly cost to imprison a federal inmate was $88,067 in 2005-06. It cost $113,645 if the offender was held in maximum security.
Correctional staff and officials have long warned of swelling costs and growing challenges. Many prisons are literally "rusting out" as staff struggle to handle 12,700 inmates who are increasingly violent, gang-affiliated and mentally ill, said Keith Coulter, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada.
"The offender population is becoming far more complex and difficult to manage.
"We welcome it," he said of the review.

About 6,800 offenders are on conditional release in communities across Canada. About 11 per cent of federal convicts will be back in prison within two years of completing their sentence - five per cent of them for violent crimes.
Day highlighted a range of failures, particularly when it comes to early parole. But he also noted that the Canadian correctional system is held up as a global model.

Sampson, who refused to talk to reporters, will lead a five-member panel slated to deliver a public report to Parliament with recommendations for change by Oct. 31. With the exception of Ian Glen, former chairman of the National Parole Board, none of the reviewers has sustained front-line experience inside the prison system.
Graham Stewart of the John Howard Society, an advocacy group for prisoners, says the Tories have turned a key opportunity for objective assessment into a politically driven sham.

"What's been put together here is not a panel of experts by any stretch of the imagination," he said.
"We have a group here that's largely inexperienced, that has an enormous mandate to touch on every hot-button issue in corrections and to report within six months. I think those terms of reference, that timeline, and the makeup of the committee really cast serious doubt that this is a credible process."

Other panel members include Sharon Rosenfeldt, who co-founded Victims of Violence after her 16-year-old son, Daryn, was abducted and murdered by serial killer Clifford Olson in 1981; former Montreal police investigator Serge Gascon and Clarence Louie-Oliver, chief of the Osoyoos First Nation in British Columbia.

The panel will study ways to improve a host of problems within the prison system - from high rates of reoffence to crumbling buildings.

WHAT!!!!!! The Mike Harris puppet who put Ontario Corrections through the disaster that is still haunting us to this day with unbelievable prisoner escort costs?
Please Mr. Harper, get on the phone to Brockville and beg for Mr. Runciman to take over, at least he saw what was going to happen and just "happened" to have a young offender name-reading incident and so he did the honourable[re smart] thing and stepped down.

...and Clarence Louie-Oliver, chief of the Osoyoos First Nation in British Columbia

This is a great chief!  No PC BS for him.  The Osoyoos FN has almost 0 unemployment, and he tells his people to go to work or go to school.  Welfare is no option there for the able-bodied!
I am not acquainted with any of the other names ,I think that the fact that most are from outside the system is good.
However, get used to this, Sampson, who refused to talk to reporters, as in my recollection from those dark days was someone with severe 'short mans syndrome' who could never be wrong....so no need to talk.
I worked with Sharon and Gary Rosenfeldt who were then, operating an organization called Victims of Violence. I was working as a volunteer on a Private Member's Bill for Ontario victim's rights for Cam Jackson.  Sharon was part of the consultation process. 

Sharon has done some amazing work in the advancement of victim rights and services.  It was her lobbying Police Chiefs and Provincial Sol Gens to change the age limit for police to respond on missing children to 18.  Her son Daryn was 16 when Olsen kidnapped him and when Sharon called the police to report her son not returning home, she was told that at 16, he was outside the age for a police response.  Back in those days, it wasn't unusual for police not to look for kids over 16 as they assumed the kid had just simply run away.  The tragedy for the Rosenfeldts was had the police searched for Daryn, in all likelihood he would have been found alive as Olsen tended to keep his victims alive for a few weeks before killing them.   It's quite sobering to hear Sharon describe how they got their son's body back. 

She an her organization also were instrumental in working with John Walsh to get the Amber Alert up and running as well as reviews in the then, Parole Act and Pen Act.  They lobbied hard to curtail fed inmates being able to just call anyone on the institutional payphones as Olsen had a penchant for doing.  They lobbied for victim's families to be included in the Parole Hearing process and be allowed to attend any and all hearings and give testimony. 

So while Sharon has not been a directly employed by CSC etc, her experiences do go quite far.  My only concern is that in her case, she is perhaps a little too single minded and a little more subjective than perhaps a committee member should be (she is still attending any and all of Olsen's Parole hearings so she has a vested interest to keep the likes of Olsen in prison - as he should - some would feel that she hasn't distance herself from her personal issues enough to offer up the best solutions).  I'm hoping that the other members will balance that out.   

I'm also hoping that this committee will use as a stepping stone the numerous studies and reports on revamping CSC and the Parole Board that are lying in the basements of the Hill collecting dust.  I'd hate to see more money thrown at another study that just re-invents the wheel (there is a whole study on Privatization of Pens with numerous trips to the super jails in Texas from the early 90s).  I've personally been involved with 4 of these studies/committees and so far the best implementation of any of the zillion committee's findings as been 16 out of 64 recommendations in a 10 year span.  For CSC, revamping the Commissioner's Directives was painful and labourious enough after the CCRA came into full force and effect.