January 19, 2001
The vultures are circling
Are U.S. prison companies getting ready to
The Barrie Jail appears to be a popular tourist attraction.
Sources tell us that five different tours went through the jail this week
under the watchful eyes of Ministry regional office staff. The identities of
these visitors are a mysteryÖor are they? Letís do a little investigative
work and see what we can come up with.
Staff at the Barrie Jail became suspicious when some of the visitors spoke
with a southern drawl that could hardly be mistaken as a Canadian accent. One
staff member who introduced himself to a member of one of the tours got no
response. He later stated that he felt like "a cow at an auction."
After a few discreet inquiries, it was learned that one of the tours was from
Florida, another one was from Houston, Texas. Now who from those areas would be
interested in touring an Ontario jail? Especially one thatís just 45 minutes
south of the planned private superjail in Penetanguishene? When you consider
that this is the week that qualified bidders on the superjail Request for
Proposals (RFP) get to tour the Penetanguishene facility, itís not hard to
figure out who these tours represent.
Letís see now. Wackenhut Corrections is based in Florida, as is
Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) (not to be confused with Corrections
Corporation of America [CCA], which is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee).
Cornell Corrections, the fourth largest private prison operator in the U.S., has
its head office in Houston.
That would go a long way to explain why interim Corrections Minister Norm
Sterling has refused to release the names of the companies who qualified to bid
on Penetanguishene. None of the three above mentioned companies have clean
records when it comes to operating prisons for profit.
Wackenhutís colossal failures have been well documented. The most infamous
case involved the closing of the Jena young offender facility in Louisiana after
a 60 Minutes report uncovered widespread abuse.
Cornell Corrections also has a shoddy track record. Reports from U.S.
newspapers reveal a lengthy company history of escapes, fines, bribery, drug
smuggling and price gouging, not to mention hiring guards with felony records to
supervise youths in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
CSC has fared a little better. This company has only had multiple escapes,
large scale riots and a facility in Louisiana taken away by the state. The
take-over resulted after private prison guards walked off the job to protest
wages. The company was paying the guards $6 per hour.
So if these are the companies who are indeed looking at bidding on the
Penetanguishene superjail, itís no wonder the Minister has kept the names of
the "qualified" bidders a closely guarded secret.
If we are wrong in our hypothesis, publish the names, Minister Sterling. Put
the speculation to rest.
We doubt that will happen, because secret deals are a Tory government
speciality. At least until the media finds out.
Another successful operation
Barrie Jail riot quelled without injury
An inmate disturbance on Jan. 14 was brought to a peaceful conclusion thanks
to the professional public service staff at the Barrie Jail.
It all began early Sunday evening when two inmates were peacefully removed
from a unit for creating a minor disturbance. That prompted other inmates in the
unit to demand that their compatriots to be returned. After an institutional
manager ordered staff to lock down the unit, inmates began lighting fires,
throwing food and hurling meal trays.
Barrie Jailís Cell Extraction Team (CET) was activated shortly thereafter.
The CET, along with line correctional officers, took charge and restored order.
The process took six and a half hours, resulting in the removal of the inmate
ringleaders. All this was accomplished without injuries to staff or inmates.
"Our members remained calm, collected and acted with the utmost
professionalism," said Tim Mulhall, CET member and vice president of Local
313 at the jail. "If not for the exceptional training and calibre of our
people, this situation could have had a much more serious outcome."
Thatís what you get with professional public service members. And these
same inmates will soon be residing in Penetanguishene.
Inquiry exposes E. coli bungle at jail
The Walkerton Inquiry heard Jan. 17 that during the outbreak of E. coli last
May, management at the Walkerton Jail didnít follow the boil water advisory
until a day after it was issued despite being told about it by OPSEU members.
Superintendent Daniel Smith testified at the Walkerton Inquiry Wednesday that
the jail didnít start boiling its water until the afternoon of Mon., May 22.
The boil water advisory was broadcast on local radio on Sun., May 21.
The Inquiry heard about an internal corrections ministry investigation
triggered by a June 10th story in the Toronto Star. The
investigationís conclusion was read out at the Inquiry: "The
investigation has concluded that the information given to the manager on May 21st,
2000, was correct and of a serious nature. This information was not taken
seriously by the manager, nor did he act upon it."
At the same time as the E. coli outbreak one inmate displayed flu-like
symptoms and seven correctional officers were off sick. Two correctional
officers were tested and treated for E. coli-related illness.
Kudos to Local 225 president Gerry Hope working with OPSEU to make the
Inquiry aware of the full picture of what happened at the jail that May long
weekend. This information was all the more crucial because it helped Inquiry
lawyers prepare for Superintendent Smithís testimony.
Send that info in!
Information on violations to the new escort policy is already coming in.
In last weekís Lock Talk, we asked that you send the information to
Barry Scanlon c/o the OPSEU Guelph regional office. We should have also asked
that you send the same information to Daryl Pitfield, chair of the provincial
Health and Safety committee. You can fax the info to Daryl c/o the OPSEU Sault
Ste. Marie office at (705) 949-0326.
The Resolution Warrior begins to close on the big 200 with the addition of
five municipalities this week.
The count reaches 176 this week thanks to the support of the City of
Stratford, the Township of West Carleton (west of Ottawa), the Township of
Sables-Spanish River (west of Sudbury), the Township of Prince (near Sault Ste.
Marie) and the Township of Michipicoten (near Wawa).
The one-man army continues his campaign. 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: email@example.com
.Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.
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