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She wants opinions on super jail

Janis Leering: The Mirror
Dec. 25, 2002

Adele Payne wants to hear any kudos or complaints local residents have about the Penetanguishene jail.

Payne is one of four members of the Central North Correctional Centre's Community Advisory Committee, and she wants to remind residents they are there to listen.

"We had our first meeting in July 2002," said Payne.

Since then, there has been several other meetings, where the four members talk about what they know about the jail.

One of the reasons Payne asked to be on the committee, is because she was born and raised here, and she is raising her children in the community.

"I want to be a positive influence to keep the community safe.

"If there are issues that need to be addressed, we are available to speak to people."

Payne wants to stay up-to-date on concerns people have, and from there, she can bring those concerns either to Penetang-uishene council members, or straight to jail administration staff.

Other members on the committee include Mayor Anita Dubeau, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons Sharon Dion, and Lois Lipton.

"This group is unlike the jail's Board of Monitors, we are accountable to the community," said Dion.

"We are an open, honest link between the facility and the community. To date, there is no other avenue to have your questions answered."

One example is the inmate disturbance on Sept. 19, where the committee was told about what happened, and even went on a tour within a week after the incident.

"That surprised me, that the ministry still allowed us to have a tour. They didn't cancel our visit. They were being honest, and it demonstrated they weren't hiding anything," said Dubeau.

Dubeau said the safety of the community is paramount, and another reason for the committee is to relate news to the residents about the jail.

"If there is anything people feel like asking us, if we have the information, we can deal with it. If not, we can try to find out. But they have to remember, we are only an advisory committee, we make no decisions," said Dubeau.

The Community Advisory Committee has a list of regulations they must follow, which includes training, education and approving any financial charges with the Central North Correctional Centre first.

The committee is looking for more volunteers from the community, regardless of whether or not they are in favour of a private jail.

Lipton is the only member on the committee who thinks the private facility is a great idea.

"I think having a private facility is better than one run by the government. But I think that also means the jail is getting far more attention than it would if it was a public facility," said Lipton.

She said she approaches the jail with a different perspective, because she is fairly new to the community.

But as far as a business is concerned, Lipton said the jail is giving the community a decent response.

"They can only give us so much information. Riots are a reality, and you don't hear about it anymore in Kingston, because it's just part of life."

To contact the Community Advisory Committee with questions or concerns, call Dubeau or Payne at the Penetanguishene Town Hall at 549-7452. Dion can be reached at My Sister's Closet, 549-4382. Or Lipton can be reached at 549-0903.

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