March 30, 2001
Never let messy old facts get in the way of a
The Ministry of Correctional Services has been
touting its correctional prowess over the last week or two, using the
newly-constructed Maplehurst superjail and the privatized Camp Turnaround boot
camp as examples. These "shining jewels" of Tory innovation are being
showcased to the public and the press as the future of correctional services in
this province. However, the substance behind these so-called
"successes" is as empty as Mike Harrisí seat in the Legislature
during Question Period.
Letís take a quick peek at the expanded
Maplehurst facility. In the Mar. 16, 2001 Lock Talk, we exposed numerous
health and safety problems at the new Milton Hilton. But a recent letter from
Local 234 vice president Karl Van Hullenaar clarifies a few of the Ministry
claims that the press swallowed whole.
For instance, the new tear gas injection system,
which would be used to "force rioting inmates back to their cells," is
a wonderful idea. At least it would be, if that system actually existed
at Maplehurst. HmmÖit would appear that this detail was left out.
How about those new high-tech motion sensors on
the perimeter fences? Apparently they work so well that raccoons living on the
roof set the alarms off, as well as freight trains passing behind the site. The
system has been shut down for months, and will unlikely be activated. Whoops,
forgot that point.
But donít forget those 168 cameras that will
monitor every inmate movement, which of course will eliminate a lot of those
troublesome correctional officers. Problem? 168 cameras, but only eight camera
monitors. And only two correctional officers who will be too busy with other
duties to watch the monitors uninterrupted. Darn, maybe that was written down on
another piece of paper.
But even these omissions pale in light of the
complete hoodwinking that is being attempted to prove that Camp Turnaround is an
unqualified success. Less than a week after Corrections Parliamentary Assistant
Bob Wood told CBC Counterspin viewers that no statistics were available
on the camp, a report suddenly appears showing statistics that Camp Turnaround
is the best thing since Post-it Notes.
This report, part of a Ministry press release
sent out at 8 a.m. last Saturday morning (note the timing on that), claims that
Camp Turnaround had recidivism rates that were "consistently lower than the
rates for a comparable sample of youth who were not exposed to the
program." The report also claimed that another success of the boot camp was
lower per diem rates - $214 per day compared with an average of $331 per day in
the public system.
No wonder the Tories are blowing their trumpets.
Results like this are a dream come true! Privatization and strict discipline
Now, time for a big bite of the reality sandwich.
What was NOT mentioned in the Ministry press releases was MPP Woodís OTHER
comment on Counterspin. Specifically, Wood admitted, "We choose
offenders (for Camp Turnaround) that have the most likely chance to
succeed." Translation? The offenders are cherry-picked as being those who
are least likely to re-offend. Even though every union member working with young
offenders has known this since the boot camp opened, to our knowledge it is the
first time a Ministry official has made that admission.
Gosharootie, what a huge shock! Specially chosen,
non-violent, unlikely to commit another crime young offenders have lower
recidivism rates! And these same offenders, who donít have severe psychiatric
problems, medical concerns or violent histories, are cheaper to supervise!
With a deck stacked like that, a chimpanzee could
administrate that camp and be successful.
Perhaps the Tories are relying on the concept
that if you tell half the story, and scream it loud enough, people will believe.
What the Ministry doesnít say is what it will do when it attempts to expand
privatization and it becomes more and more difficult to cherry-pick the best
inmates from the system.
All of this begs the question: if you have to
mislead the public so badly about a government initiative, whatís the real
reason for the scheme?
Grievance win may throw wrench into superjail
A grievance win for employees who are transferred
to a private employer could throw a major wrench into the planned privatization
of the Penetanguishene superjail.
The Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) decision,
issued this week by Vice-Chair Richard Brown, defines seniority protection for
members with respect to lay-off and job competition. This decision falls on the
heels of another GSB decision issued this week by Vice-Chair Deborah Leighton,
which also ordered the seniority protection for current and former members of
Syl Apps Youth Centre.
The Board decision makes it clear that members
who transfer to a private employer under the Request for Proposal (RFP) process
will have their seniority recognized at the new workplace, even among those who
are hired from outside the OPS. This is a major win under the OPS Collective
Agreementís "Reasonable Efforts" clause, the basis for which the
employer could transfer members to the private sector.
The award ensures that for job competitions with
the new employer, applicants who are "relatively equal" in
qualifications will be chosen based on seniority. Length of service will also be
the deciding factor if the new employer has to lay off workers.
What will this mean for employees at the four
institutions (Barrie Jail, Burtch C.C., Guelph C.C. and Parry Sound Jail) who
are affected by the Penetang transfer? Essentially, all employees will have to
be given the opportunity to choose again whether they wish to go to
Penetanguishene. The employer will also have to amend the RFP to reflect the
We somehow doubt that this new twist is making
the facility more attractive for a private operator, especially when they
canít easily get rid of experienced staff who know how a jail should really
An inmate who decided he liked the outside of the
bars a lot better than the inside got a brief taste of freedom from Mimico C.C.
on Wednesday. Very brief.
The inmate, who had been issued a Temporary
Absence Permit to clean outside the institution, decided to take a quick little
stroll up Horner Avenue. Luckily, a staff member on the roof of the adjoining
Toronto Youth Assessment Centre spotted the inmate. After a few quick radio
calls and notification to Toronto Police, the chase was on.
Three correctional officers from Mimico
(including one whom was officially on his break) jumped into one of their
personal automobiles to track down the unwary suspect.
The officers began their search, and noticed a
Toronto police cruiser leaving the parking lot of a nearby restaurant. Despite
knowing that the police had already checked the area, the officers, acting on a
hunch, decided to search the lot again. Sure enough, the inmate was spotted
hiding behind the building. The inmate gave himself up to the correctional
officers without a struggle.
Once again, dedicated, professional public
service correctional officers have proved that there is no substitute for
experience and instinct. Something that will be sorely lacking in a privatized
Well done, officers. Itís hard for the
government to beat actions with rhetoric.
Lindsay elects watchdogs
Members who are destined to work in the Lindsay
superjail can breathe a little easier knowing that three experienced OPSEU
activists will be watching out for their health and safety.
At the Mar. 22, 2001 Lindsay superjail liaison
meeting, Steve Clancy of Local 308 (Peterborough Jail), Dana Burrage and Larry
Cripps (both of Local 309, Lindsay Jail) were elected to sit on the superjail
liaisonís health and safety sub-committee.
Congratulations guys! Our members are in very
See you at Convention
Donít forget to attend the Corrections caucus
at this yearís OPSEU Convention. The caucus is at 12 noon on Thursday, April 5
in Conference Rooms D & E.
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Pam Doig (ext. 687)
at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888.
.Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.
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