I notice a big change in Canadian prisons – they are more regimented, as if they were an army. Inmates are only allowed to move between activities in fifteen minute blocks. Of course this gives administration greater control of them and takes away the freedom and responsibility of the inmate to move between places on time. This doesn’t seem to be the correct way to prepare someone to return to society.

In one small example, I started teaching creative writing in the nineties. I taught in a portable, and it was like a drop-in club every week. Guys could come in for the whole class or leave in the middle. It worked well. If they wanted to learn about writing, they came. But nowadays the inmates have to sign up a week in advance if they want to come to the class. They march in at a specified time and march out at the end.

What do all the staff do when nobody is moving anywhere? Who is getting corrected? And it seems wrong to me to shove someone back into the world when they’ve been marched around Army style for five, ten, twenty years.

On a different matter, can anyone steer me to a statistical site which would do for Canada what these people have done for the USA? http://www.criminaljusticedegreehub.com/locked-up-in-america/

  1. Catana says:

    Victor Hassine wrote about a similar control method in one of Pennsylvania’s prisons, in Life Without Parole: Living and Dying in Prison Today. He experienced many prisons during his lifetime and described that one as the most dehumanizing, even though it was the most modern prison he’d been in. On the surface, life there was an improvement, but it was the worst for reducing men to automatons and ensuring that they would often miss classes.

  2. Joanne says:

    The greater the degree of external control, the more institutionalized one gets. Another great post!

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