Charter Rights
Story Archives
Sign Our Guestbook
View Guestbook
Contact Capp @   or   Post Comments  CAPP Message Board   and  Any Upcoming Events

Possibility of public jail makes her smile

Janis Leering
The Mirror
Oct. 10, 2003

The smile on Sharon Dion's face says it all.

She's "very confident" the jail will return to public hands, now that the Liberals have won over the provincial voters.

"Dalton (McGuinty) has made a commitment to me personally that he will keep jails public," said Dion.

But to turn the Penetanguishene jail back into public hands is not as easy as a snap of the fingers.

Management and Training Corporation Canada (MTCC) has signed an agreement with the provincial government to operate the jail for five years. As long as MTCC is meeting the criteria of the contract, the new government can't repeal it without costing thousands of dollars.

But Dion said she'll be patient.

"I don't want to waste taxpayers' dollars, but I'm very excited about the changes. I'll be happy to see MTCC leave the country."

In the meantime, Dion is hopeful the Liberals will keep a close eye on the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene.

"Being a private company, MTCC is good at keeping a cloak of secrecy (around it). The new government knows about all the loopholes, so it won't turn a blind eye to them."

While Dion is a Liberal supporter, she is also open to working with Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop to facilitate the operation of the jail as a public facility. But she said they haven't spoken since he was re-elected last week.

"Garfield (Dunlop) has said the private jail has created 360 local jobs, but they would be there whether it was private, or public."

She disagrees with many of Dunlop's statements, which he has defended since the jail opened in November 2001.

Dunlop said the jail is likely exceeding its contract, but told The Mirror he has never read it.

"I've seen the Request for Proposal, not the contract. It's not my job to monitor the jail, it's done by ministry staff," said Dunlop.

The Ontario Ministry of Public Safety and Security has someone watching the jail procedures, to make sure everything meets provincial standards.

There is also a Board of Monitors, made up of local residents, who report directly to the minister about issues at the jail.

Dunlop believes it would be a shame if this pilot project were to be ended now by the Liberals.

"The Penetanguishene jail is following the same guidelines as the public jail in Lindsay, and after five years, they will be compared," said Dunlop.

"There are problems at both facilities, but there's no question, it would be a step back not to see (the contract) through."

Dunlop believes the Liberals want to change it to a public facility because they are afraid to see the results of the comparison.

"The jail will probably do better than they thought. There's no way it's perfect - it's a jail, people do bad things when they go there."

No matter what happens, Dunlop said he will watch the Liberal government to ensure they are keeping their promises.

"Before, they were criticizing us, and I was always on the defensive whenever the media called. Now, we're in the driver's seat."

Levac, Liberal critic for the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, is ready for the challenge of keeping an eye on the jail.

He said once his government receives all the jail documents from the Progressive Conservatives, they will begin searching for a way to exit the contract.

"We've been unable to see it in its entirety, so we will have to look for an escape clause. I wouldn't do it at the expense of the taxpayer, which means we may have to wait," said Levac.

Levac has researched health and safety issue at the jail to the best of his ability, and said it wouldn't be fair to compare it to the Lindsay jail.

"Garfield (Dunlop) is convinced he knows what is correct, but you can't compare apples to Volkswagens. Frankly, we don't need the competition for efficiency.

"We need leadership, and we need to bring to the table the best bang for our buck. Private jails only look at the bottom line, not what is the correct thing to do. Why would a private prison work on rehabilitation for inmates? It would put itself out of business."

He said when the jail is returned to the public's hands, most of the employees will still have a job.

"As long as they are properly trained, and are the workforce we expect, I doubt the volume of employment will go down. They may choose not to work in a public system, but that's their choice."

| Post Any Upcoming Events | Top of Page | Home Page | Post Comments on Message Board |