Prison Reform Should be on Federal Election Agenda! 2015

Prison Reform Should be on Federal Election Agenda! 2015
Posted on October 6, 2015 | Barry Dennison | Written on October 6, 2015
Letter type:
Blog Post


Huffington Post blog

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

It's generally believed that inmates and the people who keep them in prison are undesirable people you'd rather ignore or dismiss.

Paradoxically, this prison reform proposal suggested involves university researchers given increased information to that operation within the civil service. It's an approach that would work in any sector of the civil service, at any level of government.

Am asking for people's "Likes, Share ant Tweets" here and on Huffington Post's blog in order to send a message that citizens do care about people in prisons.

 And that it's citizens asking the government for this approach to bring increased information to our government, so they will have a better idea of just what the reality is ... rather than going crisis to crisis. 


Canadian federal prisons have become treacherous and deadly with media reports in The Sun newspapers stating it costs $113,000 a year to lodge a federal prisoner.

The CBC's The National reported this week on the PTSD of Correctional workers.

Media lights continued to glare on Corrections Canada as Global News revealed the contents of an internal report showing an increase of workplace accidents at the Correctional Service of Canada, as the work-related injuries skyrocket.

Then the Ottawa Citizen's coverage of hundreds of guard's pay being three to four months late?

All complimented by Toronto Star reports of angry inmates transferring from provincial jails with severe over crowding [as in Ontario B.C., Alberta, Manitoba too].

As the federal election approaches, Justin Trudeau is the only national leader heard toopenly ask for ideas from Canadians. Here I am, Mr. Trudeau! As well, this gentleman is the only leader to speak of his concern about the level of secrecy and disclosurewithin the federal civil service.

The NDP website points accurately to the Conservative "crime agenda," so hopefully Thomas Mulcair would be interested in this university/prison program too.

Traditionally, no one cares about guards working in prisons with the "lowest of the low" in society, yet that is where my life's work began years ago -- working as a Correctional Officer in a human warehouse that systematically destroys staff and inmates alike.

Notwithstanding, I've dedicated my life to seeing through the development of this idea because I have seen, first-hand, the goodness of inmates, guards and administration who are in an out-of-control system that can't alone meet the needs of everyone, or even come near being able to deal with the multiplicity of internal issues involved.

This is a simple program whereby university graduate students/professors [across Canada] are given increased access to the prison's business/administration in every department. All in an effort to establish a new database of knowledge on this elusive government department, via established methods of research to analyze for publishing in academic journals.

Proposal Details

Given the level of the violence we all know exists in Canadian prisons, I suggested inmate representatives and staff meet (separately) with management to present their issues in a civil and orderly fashion. To video tape their respective meetings with management and send to senior academics in Law, Sociology, Public Administration, Psychiatry, Human Resources, Psychology and all other health/mental health disciplines to take a close up look into a prison subculture.

Today, university researchers could easily access management/inmates/staff meetings via recording live on computer. Eliminating the need for researchers to enter a prison, technology could assist in communications directly with mentally impaired inmates participating in a study/survey, be able to make recommendations on treatment available to the institution's doctor.

The proposal requires no more than a "quid quo pro arrangement" whereby academics/auditors are given enhanced access to the Correctional Services of Canada, in an effort to build an improved new database of information on prison-related issues.

In return for access, researchers tentatively provide an executive summary of their research to the government administration/Standing Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Corrections via a registrar.

Independently, researchers would submit findings as per the usual channels of an academic discipline's journal some time later for the media.

No additional monies would be required by the government, except funding a "registrar" to organize privacy/legal previews for each project, as well as to disseminate research findings.

This program is not intended to challenge the government agency, but instead to assist, respect and support prison management's independence.

This program will not impair the government wish to appointing commissions, inquiries or Crown panels, yet I believe this program should remove the need for such expensive inquiries.

With a goal to achieve a better level of transparency and understanding through exploring current realities to inform Corrections Canada, Cabinet ministers and sub-committees [today being informed by the chief bureaucrat/Deputy Minister or delegate].

To start, research could start on established Auditor General's reports. Coroner's Reports, Correctional Investigator to KPMG's reports (i.e. human resources) which all government services employ. CSC's research department, a key resource.

Understandably, prison management would want to set the ways in which researchers engage with members of the prison service, just as they would for any forensic auditor or Auditor General's investigation.

Academic disciplines: Law, Sociology, Psychology, Criminology and Public Administration, Public Sector Management specialists, Human Resources, Commerce/Business and other studies that would benefit from examining the finances and operations of a Crown corporation, Corrections Canada/CorCan.

Folks, the fact is there's never been a successful methodology to deal with inmates and millions of dollars have been spent trying. This program would capture information from all aspects of Canadian prisons at a fast pace [given the number of researchers connected, a database would be operational in weeks].

Why can't the citizens of this country call on government(s) to utilize an established and trusted institution [as an independent university] to: quickly discover challenges and to identify political interference as with the Conservatives cruel brand of justice.

Set Winning Conditions

What is being suggested here is the prison culture is in need of more interaction with a higher intelligentsia of a university. Infuse the boring routine of an institution [with useless programs] into one involving talented doctors and doctorates, each willing to help to put the pieces of the puzzle together in an objective way to see the true picture.

Management receives free examination and Parliament gets a methodology to hold a civil service agency accountable.

Inmates, these people have to be treated as "thinking adults" with human value, not through the filter or label of 'convict.' This will go a long way to reduce tension.

Society's punishment is loss of freedom, not how we can inflict more pain on to people because we don't know how to handle each compassionately!

Human trafficking inside a government institution must end. Codes of secrecy must be exposed and end with old outdated traditions of penology jettisoned. Humanity-related analysis is needed to really discover new ways to incarcerate without torture-like conditions.

Yes, this university/prison program could work if it were the collective 'will' of Canadian Huffington Post blog readers and all our friends spoke out to see a prison reform be put on the national agenda this election. A program which will truly get to the heart of prison turmoil.

Please "Like Share n' Tweet" here and on Huffington Post blog!  Link below. 

About The Author

Barry Dennison's picture

Journalist [print/broadcast] specializes in legal affairs and human rights advocacy.