Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
June 02, 2010

Assault On Local Food - Save The Prison Farms


The government is hardly interested in preserving our farm land. The US model is slowly being imported in Canada as the prisoners are cheap source of labour. We all need to educate our MP's on this issue and appeal to their sense of humanity. Most are busy protecting their turf and simply sign or carry through the wishes of their Party leaders who have totally different agendas form the constituents. They need to understand that they too are in the plight of their own constituents and will also lose healthy local produce/farmlands that could make their jurisdictions self sufficient; protect them and their children/grandchildren from imported food dependencies. Not to mention the loss of local jobs.

We need to also need to educate them on the possible prison replacement diet with cheap, unhealthy and highly processed industrial foods especially with the continual funding cutbacks. See:

Soy Diet for IL Prisoners: Cruel & Unusual Punishment

Please read the following for some background information and follow up with said actions following this introduction. And if able, please join Margaret Atwood who will be leading a prison farm rally, on June 6, 2010


Chris Gupta
tinyurl.com/25qjn76
----------------------------

Dear Sir:

I am a member of a group here in Kingston that is protesting the closure of six prison farms across Canada. We have two here in Kingston, one right in the middle of the city which produces milk and eggs for the prison system as a whole, and is located on 800 acres of prime farmland. The other prison farm just a few miles out of the city has an abattoir attached to it, which serves the local farmers and local food system.

We have been protesting ever since the announcement for closure was made in 2008. We have taken cattle to Parliament Hill, staged protests outside the prison farms, held public meetings, wear T-shirts in public, had Public Safety Critic, Mark Holland, and Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter address Kingston City Council (they were granted TWO MINUTES EACH by the Mayor), and have a website. Still, the government insists that the top notch dairy herd will be sold in June. Once this happens, it will be just about impossible to bring the farms back. Some of the six have already been closed, despite the set closure date of 2011.

At first, we were protesting the loss of 800 acres of farmland, then we found out that the government is likely planning to build super prisons on the land. They will be tightening the laws, thereby putting more people in prison and also at the same time, losing the ability to feed them on their own farms with inmate labour. The sign outside the farms still reads "Paying their way through Agriculture". The farm used to turn a profit (and probably still does) The Harper government will not divulge the costs of running the farms they say they are losing $4 million annually, but won't let anyone look at the raw data. The closures will affect ALL taxpayers, through increased taxes to pay for the "modernization" and "more incarcerations", and loss of ability to produce food within the system.

Another factor here, is that the farm work has been proven to benefit and rehabilitate inmates. There is something about working with animals and working outdoors and problem solving with equipment that helps a person. A parole officer at one of our events said that he paroled 56 inmates from the farm, and that only two had gone back to prison, (for parole violation not new crimes). That is just about a 100% rehabilitation, saving the taxpayers about $100,000/year each, when these inmates leave the system, and become productive members of society. It has been proven in the U.S. that super prisons do not rehabilitate inmates they turn out people worse than when they went in.

Also, the small local abattoirs are being lost across Canada. Government rules and regulations are making it very costly for the owners to keep them running. The government says they will give us more but this is not happening. So far we have been able to stop the closure of the one at the prison farm here, but for how long, we don't know. This would be a blow to the local food system. There are very few abattoirs within a reasonable distance of many farm communities. We desperately need a poultry abattoir here in Kingston. As it is now, we have to drive one hour to Belleville, or 2 hours to Ottawa to have chickens killed, or we can't sell them to the public. The government should be expanding their abattoir, rather than trying to close it.


Our website: www.saveourfarms.ca

A new group against super prisons has supplied the following websites:

Harper Index: www.harperindex.ca

John Howard Society: www.johnhoward.ca

Citizens Against Private Prisons: www.capp.50megs.com

Against Prison: www.againstprison.wordpress.com

4struggle Magazine: www.4strugglemag.org

Thank you,

Dale Williams

Kingston

-----------------------------------
Couple of ACTION Items:

Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 16:22:02 -0400
From: Dale Williams <dale.williams@primus.ca>
Subject: Prison Farm Issue - update

Chris:

Time is getting short for us to save the Frontenac Institution dairy herd which is slated for sale around June 20th.

The following was found in the Correctional Services of Canada report, "A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety". In Appendix K, "Correctional Facilities Visited by the Panel", Pages 240 and 241, it shows that only two out of the six prison farms slated for closure were visited by the panel; Pittsburgh Institution in Joyceville and Westmorland Institution in New Brunswick were visited. The following four prison farms were not visited by the panel: Frontenac Institution in Kingston,
Rockwood Institution in Manitoba, Riverbend Institution in Saskatchewan, and Boden Institution in Alberta

We have asked that the closures be deferred until a proper study of the value of prison farms can be done before we lose these national treasures.

Please help keep the farms open: Phone the Prime Minister's office at 1-866-599-4999 and ask for the Office of the Prime Minister.

For more information: www.saveourfarms.ca and www.saveourprisonfarms.ca

Thank you,

Dale Williams
Kingston

Please forward this far and wide

Your actions are more effective when you do all you use all ways to communicate fax, email, snail mail and telephone your representative directly and don't forget to be persistent! Send follow up letters and/or fax, phone and keep demanding a response on how and what they will actually do to mitigate concerns outlined. If no response then personally visit and ask why they are not responding and representing your concerns as per their mandate? If you don't get a satisfactory response let them know that instead of working to support them, as in the past, you will now actively direct your energy towards removing them from office in the next election. CG

------------

MEDIA RELEASE MAY 31, 2010


MARGARET ATWOOD TO JOIN PRISON FARM MARCH

Save the Prison Farms action plan to be posted on CSC's door

KINGSTON, ONTARIO On Sunday, June 6, Margaret Atwood will join citizens of all ages and political stripes for a march to the Correctional Service of Canada's (CSC) Ontario headquarters. Once there, they will post their action plan for saving and revitalizing Canada's six prison farms on the door.

"Sixteen months of public events, letters, petitions, delegations, and parliamentary motions have gathered almost unanimous support across the country for Canada's prison farms," said Dianne Dowling, National Farmers Union Local 316 President. "Yet the federal government is plowing ahead with its wrong-headed plan to shut down the prison farms."

"Heritage dairy herds, which provide milk for inmates in at least three provinces are slated for dispersal," added Dowling. "As one of our supporters has said, dispersing the herd is like wiping out an entire extended family." The first sale is scheduled for Kingston's Frontenac Institution during the week of June 21.

"By marching on CSC headquarters on June 6, Canadians will be sending a clear message to our government," said Andrew McCann, of Urban Agriculture Kingston. "And that message is -- you have to stop ignoring the will of the majority."

Margaret Atwood, one of Canada's most articulate and visionary champions of environmental issues, is joining the Save Our Prison Farm Campaign to take it to a new level.

"At a time when world attention is focusing on looming food shortages linked to climate change, and when countries such as England are re-organizing to provide more food self-sufficiency, the government of Canada is making exactly the wrong move," explained Atwood.

"It is also sending a clear signal to individual farmers all across Canada that it does not respect what they do. These prison farms reflect Canadian values. Most Canadians would rather have prisons produce skilled inmates than repeat offenders and they are increasingly supporting a vision of a future in which communities contribute to their own food supply."

"We should not take away from offenders the very thing citizens are trying to rebuild in communities across Canada," Atwood said.

 


posted by Chris Gupta on Wednesday June 2 2010

URL of this article:
http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2010/06/02/assault_on_local_food_save_the_prison_farms.htm

 

 


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