Save Our Jails rally in Sarnia
July 21, 2011 – OPSEU executive members join local activists at a recent Save Our Jails rally outside the Sarnia correctional facility.
Save Our Jails campaign pickets Liberal nomination meeting
May 27 2011 – Bellmore – Correctional officers from Owen Sound and Walkerton demonstrated outside of MPP Carol Mitchell’s nomination meeting Thursday and they discovered plenty of local Liberals support their campaign to stop a proposal to shut jails in Grey and Bruce counties.
“I think we had a huge impact on lots of people who came to her nomination meeting,” said Local 224 president Paul Johnstone, who represents correctional officers and support staff at Owen Sound jail. “Lots of them were signing our petition to keep the jails open and said they would be talking to Mitchell herself to reverse the closure plan.”
Johnstone estimated that about 75 Liberals attended the nomination meeting in Bellmore.
Mitchell, who represents the riding of Huron-Bruce where the Walkerton jail is located, has come under tremendous pressure to persuade the provincial government to suspend the closures pending the results of a full public review. The decision to close the two jails was announced in the March 29 budget without any consultation with local groups who will be affected by the shut down.
Campaign team hosts May 9 briefing at Queen’s Park
COs take jails campaign to Queen’s Park
May 9, 2011 – More than two dozen MPPs and political aides attended a breakfast briefing at Queen’s Park today where they were told by OPSEU correctional officers that proposed jail closings in Owen Sound, Walkerton and Sarnia are unnecessary and will take good jobs from those communities.
Hosted by the Corrections MERC team and campaign mobilizers, the briefing provided a timely opportunity to explain how the closures will harm the economies of local communities by eliminating well-paying local jobs and transferring them elsewhere.
And, contrary to the government’s position that the closures will be “cost effective,” the correctional officers told the MPPs that, in fact, the transfer of inmates to Penetanguishene (from Walkerton and Owen Sound) will actually increase costs because of greater travel distances.
Correctional facilities in Walkerton and Owen Sound could close as soon as Aug. 31. Sarnia is scheduled to close in 2013. In addition, a 200-inmate wing at Toronto West Detention Centre is scheduled to shut down in 2012 with staff being transferred to the new Toronto South Detention Centre.
“No matter how you cut it, this was a bad decision made for all the wrong reasons,” said Dave Esser, president of Local 128 representing correctional officers in Sarnia. “The government should stop the closures pending a full review of its decision.”
Correctional officers are calling for a review in which all groups, including frontline workers, community support organizers, police, probation and probation and parole officers and representatives of the local community justice system, can examine alternatives to shutting down the facilities.
MPPs from all parties, including Liberal cabinet ministers Kathleen Wynn and John Garretsen, attended the breakfast briefing which was held in the Legislative dining room at Queen’s Park.