Posts Tagged ‘ombusdman’

Open Closed signPrison is a closed system. We, the tax-paying public, don’t know what’s going on behind those walls and prison authorities don’t want us to know. It’s a great system for them – as long as they keep inmates inside the walls, they can do what they want.

If a teacher does something wrong, children tell their parents and the parents go to the school board. If a nurse or doctor mistreats a patient, the next day the family of the patient are on TV or pounding on the door of the hospital administration.

But what happens if a guard mistreats an inmate or a staff person punishes someone beyond the reasonable? What happens? Nothing. As long as no one escapes, the public is quiet. Who cares if an inmate closed systemobjects to something?

Yes, there is an office of correctional investigators (ombudsmen) in Ottawa which issues reports from time to time, good reports about abuses in the system. They have 34 employees for this vast prison system. Why isn’t there an ombudsman in every prison? In my twenty-three years of teaching in prison, I have never met anyone whom the ombudsman helped.

And there are procedures inside the prison to deal with complaints (for those who are courageous enough to complain). Isn’t that like the foxes investigating the other foxes to see who raided the chicken coup?

The tax-paying public is kept out of prison. No cameras are allowed, no cell phones, and no recording devices. Naturally some situations in prison demand restrictions, just as the public can’t waltz into the Operating Room and watch an operation.

But why can’t the taxpayer come into prison and see what they’re open closedpaying for? Why can’t they see the dirty walls, observe staff sitting around chatting or playing solitaire on their computers? Why can’t they talk to the staff and to inmates? They’re paying for this place.

“Sorry, folks, it’s a closed system,” the prison says. “We’re warehousing these people, not changing them, and that’s all the system demands. We’re doing our job. Stay out.”

Should prisons be closed to the public?

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