THE ISSUES

OVERCROWDING

Ontario falls far short of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Facilities built many decades ago for much smaller inmate populations now routinely house three times their original designed capacity.  The less powerful inmates must sleep on the floor. The noise, the filth, the plumbing and ventilation issues are exacerbated by anxious inmates forced to live virtually on top of one another.

UNDERSTAFFING

Staffing levels are woefully inadequate  leading to poor supervision and frequent and lengthy lockdowns where inmates are confined to their cells along with more cellmates than the original design was intended to accommodate. When out of their cells, inmates are left unsupervised allowing the "heavies"  to exact violence, brew alcohol or steal medications. Rehabilitation and recreational programs do not meet inmate needs. The Ministry does not fulfill its own purpose - to create an atmosphere and to provide programs for the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates.

Staff are not well trained in defusing volatility. They are denied essential tools and are required to work in unsafe conditions. This worsens the dysfunction and undermines inmate opportunities to rehabilitate.

HEALTHCARE

Inmates with serious illnesses often do not get the medical attention they need.  Lack of infirmaries, short staffing, and inadequate health care training (especially in regard to mental health and addiction treatment) put inmates at increased risk of lasting damage or death.

CULTURE OF VIOLENCE

A culture of violence and fear pervades our institutions. The meanest and toughest inmates are allowed to set rules on the range and to enforce them. The "inmates' code"stops inmates from complaining if they are beaten up. They will only get it worse for "ratting" on the aggressor. Supervision and protection is minimal. Staged "Friday Night Fights" occur where one inmate is forced to fight another to entertain the heavies. Inmates are often beaten up or otherwise forced to surrender their medication or food.

TRAUMA AND DEATH

Deaths from murder, suicide, medical neglect and drug overdoses continue to occur at increasing and alarming rates. Coroner's Inquest recommendations are rejected or ignored. Families who expect their loved ones will be cared for and kept safe are left to grieve. Inmates who survive are released to the streets with physical and psychological damage from their experiences and with a diminished respect for law and authority.

 

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