January 5, 2001
Penetang RFP arrives
But recent grievance win could create big
problems for Ministry
The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Penetanguishene superjail was
released on Wednesday, January 3. Originally due to be released on October 31,
2000, the 105 page document will be the basis for bidders to try to win the
contract to run Ontario’s first privately-run adult institution.
Although the Ministry appears to be going ahead with this disastrous plan,
interim Corrections Minister Norm Sterling was dealt a major blow at the
Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) just before Christmas.
On December 21, the GSB ruled on an OPSEU appeal that the Ministry had
violated the inmate outside escort decision by including escorts as a function
of the private employer in Penetanguishene. The original decision stated clearly
that ALL inmate outside escorts must be performed by public servants belonging
to OPSEU’s Corrections Bargaining Unit. Although the Ministry signed the
agreement, they overlooked the fact that Penetanguishene was not specifically
GSB Vice-Chair Harry Freedman ruled that the employer violated the original
agreement by including escorts as a function of the private employer. He ordered
the Ministry to amend their documents, and write a memo to all staff stating
that the Ministry had violated the order.
So what does this mean? In a nutshell, all inmate escorts coming out of the
Penetanguishene superjail, private or not, must be accompanied by publicly
employed OPSEU correctional officers.
Which poses a huge problem for the Ministry, both from logistic and monetary
standpoints. Especially when the closest publicly-run institution is Toronto
OPSEU will be reviewing the RFP document, and copies will be sent out to
local presidents (or highest ranking) as soon as possible.
Carrying on a Sampson tradition
It would appear that interim Corrections Minister Norm Sterling is wasting no
time living up to former Corrections Minister Rob Sampson’s public relations
Sources tell us that Sterling’s office notified the Mayor’s office in
Penetanguishene to inform them that the RFP had been released. At that time,
Ministry officials also informed the town’s elected body that the Ministry
would not accept any more input into the RFP process and that the town would NOT
be provided a copy of the RFP. Nice going, Norm. It’s not like the town wasn’t
already mad as hell at the government.
We’re sure that OPSEU will be able to arrange to get copies there.
CCA hit with huge fines "down under"
Two escapes in two days have cost private prison operator Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA) $50,000, and will likely spark further debate
whether Australia’s prison and related security services should be privatized.
The escape of a "dangerous criminal" from the back of a CCA
transport van "defies belief," according to Perth’s daily newspaper,
the West Australian.
The inmate apparently used "some type of implement" to open the
back door of the van from the inside. That has led to questions about why the
door could be opened at all from the inside, how the inmate was able to obtain
such an "implement, and whether or not the inmate was even searched prior
to the escort.
A second prisoner escaped two days later after climbing a drainpipe in a
courthouse courtyard. He was on trial for armed robbery.
An editorial in the West Australian echoes concerns already expressed
here in Ontario.
"Governments are accountable to the people," the editorial states.
"Private companies are not. They do not have to acknowledge people’s
rights to know what is going on in institutions they manage on behalf of the
public. They can ignore public opinion."
In an unrelated story, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that
reclusive millionaire George C. Wackenhut is the man behind the company accused
of covering up detainee abuse at Australia’s migrant detention centres.
Prisoners are being put through rigorous counting procedures in overcrowded
and inadequate conditions so that the Wackenhut subsidiary, Australasian
Correctional Management, can avoid thousands of dollars in additional escape
TB infection hits Hamilton
At least five officers at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre have tested
positive for tuberculosis after being exposed to an inmate at the facility with
Reports indicate that staff were not told that the female inmate was
infectious until the day she was released. And that has Local 248 president Ed
"This is absolutely intolerable," Almeida said. "I’ve
advised every staff member affected to file a WSIB claim. But that’s little
comfort to those who are infected."
It appears that the lack of nursing staff contributed to this outbreak,
causing a backlog of testing and the inability to perform complete tests. A
similar backlog of untested inmates caused numerous health and safety refusals
at the Toronto West D.C. last year. A shortage of nursing staff and overcrowded
conditions were the main culprits.
Almeida wants the Ministry to take immediate action to ensure the safety of
his members and all members working in the system.
"At the very least, we need a medically secure intake unit to protect
staff and inmates alike," says Almeida. "These inmates are coming in
with all kinds of medical problems. It’s unacceptable for staff to be put at
risk in this manner."
Ministry officials could not offer any explanation as to why staff weren't
told sooner that the inmate had active TB so they could take necessary
precautions, the Hamilton Spectator reported.
Christmas was good to the Resolution Warrior. He must have behaved all year,
and was rewarded with 14 new municipalities opposing private corrections.
The resolution count hits 169 with the addition of the Town of Lasalle (near
Windsor), the Town of East Gwillimbury (north of Newmarket), the Township of
Black River-Matheson (south of Iroquois Falls), the Township of McKellar
(northeast of Parry Sound), the Municipality of Magnetawan (northeast of Parry
Sound), the Town of Tecumseh (east of Windsor), the Township of Casey (near New
Liskeard), the Township of Nairn and Hyman (west of Sudbury), the Municipality
of West Nipissing (near Sturgeon Falls), the United Townships of Head, Clara and
Maria (northwest of Petawawa), the Township of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards
(southwest of Pembroke), the Town of Lakeshore (east of Windsor), the Village of
Bayfield (south of Goderich) and the County of Elgin (near St. Thomas).
Thanks go out again to Len Mason of Local 737 (Thunder Bay Jail).
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Carol Whitehead
(ext. 356) at
1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.
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