The text below is copied from a Letter to the Editor, October 2012
Mr. Toews doesn’t understand prisons
To The Editor:
Regarding the article (Minister vows to end prison pizza parties, Sept. 21), Public Safety Minister Vic Toews states his intention to ban food drives, social, and BBQs within federal penitentiaries. He believes some of Canada’s worst criminals are being coddled. Mr. Toews goes on to list purchases made by inmates in prisons by cost, but fails to list the number of inmates in the jail. Perhaps $10,000 seems like a lot, but divided by 450 inmates it is just over $20 each. Mr. Toews’ right-wing thinking will have inmates eating bread and water, and angry at the system and society when released. With America’s already failed prison system as a reference for our Conservative government, you would think our politicians would learn from their mistakes.
Socials are an important part of our reintegration, and are only allowed by inmates who are well behaved and following their correctional plan. Inmates must have a visitor to attend a social and cover all cost themselves with the employment they have within the institution. Food drives and outside food orders also help by supporting local businesses and help us learn how to properly budget money between pay periods.
The profits from many of our food drives are donated to local charities within New Brunswick communities. The lifers group and ethno-cultural groups raise money for such places as the food bank in Moncton, Mountain Top House Inn, Moncton women’s shelter, camp for kids and other well known organizations.
Doing these types of things within the walls of the prison helps with restorative justice by making amends to the community for some of the crimes that we have committed. Not all criminals are violent, unchangeable animals; some of us are regular people who made bad choices and are looking to the system to help us properly function in society. Programming, family support and structure is what most of us need, and without it we will be just caged animals. Vic Toews said these are unacceptable prison perques; we call it reintegration.