Harper’s policies making prison inmates more violent, society less safe, correctional officers tell voters

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is deceiving the public about being tough on crime, according to the union representing Canadian correctional officers who claim that the Conservative government’s budget cuts to inmate training programs are making penitentiaries more violent for the officers.

Dozens of correctional officers working in Ontario penitentiaries who are affiliated with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) went door to door in the riding of Kitchener-Centre today to urge voters not to support the Conservative Party of Canada in the next election. 

“The Conservative government claims it’s tough on crime. This tough on crime agenda is nothing but smoke and mirrors aimed at reassuring voters,” said Robert Finucan, UCCO-SACC-CSN’s Ontario regional president.

The union claimed that the inmate training program was hit hard when the Conservative government cut $355 million from the Correctional Service’s budget, and as a consequence of this decision, penitentiaries have become more dangerous for correctional officers.

The officers point out that since many inmates will end up in the community sooner or later, they should be given the opportunity to develop skills so they can reintegrate into society.

“This government is lying to you, and it’s doing nothing to ensure the safety of Canadians, quite the opposite,” Finucan added. “We are meeting with voters to make sure they have the information they need to make an informed choice at election time in the fall,”

Finucan’s view is shared by the opposition NDP who highlight the importance of providing programs for education and social rehabilitation to prevent prisons from becoming revolving doors.

“Inmates who are neglected in terms of education and social reinsertion are liable to reoffend and fall back into a life of crime,” Rosane Doré Lefebvre, NDP MP for Alfred-Pellan, QC, said. “Many studies have proven this. The correctional investigator has mentioned it often in his reports and appearances before the committee. The experts know what is happening on the ground. They include the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the John Howard Society of Canada.”

“As a society, seeking to make our communities extremely safe is a wise choice,” she added. “When I am walking down the street, I want to be safe, I want my daughter to be safe, and I want my friends and colleagues to be safe. For that to happen, we have to make sure that these offenders do not fall back into the cycle of crime.”