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>July 28, 2000
|July 28, 2000
Preparing for a British invasion?
"Ringo" Sampson now cozying up to the Brits
We doubt there were any screaming, love-crazed teenagers waiting at the airport when Rob arrived from England.
Corrections Minister Rob Sampson returned this week from Great Britain after an apparent "Magical Mystery Tour" of private jails across the Atlantic. Although our "Day Tripper" has not officially released any information with regard to the information he gathered, we’re quite sure that he will soon be telling the press that the private prison system in England is a model of efficiency.
Since Rob is probably still a little weary from his travels, it is only fair that we help him out in case he overlooks some of the details about the British private jail system.
Knowing that the Minister is trying to distance himself from the horrors of the private prison system in the U.S. (hence why he is looking at the U.K.), we’ll start with the fact that one of the largest companies running British private jails is none other than good old Wackenhut. There has been lots written about this notorious outfit. You can fill in the blanks.
As far as savings in the private system, the latest study on private prisons in the U.K. (released March 23, 2000) showed that the only savings to emerge were caused by overcrowding. Blakenhurst prison was 28 per cent overcrowded; Buckley Hall prison was nine per cent overcrowded; Wolds prison was 11 per cent overcrowded; Doncaster prison was 38 per cent overcrowded. Overcrowding led to more assaults and more dangerous working conditions for correctional officers.
In September 1996, Richard Tilt, director of the U.K. Prison Service, said that cost differences between private and public prison operators were largely related to "much lower wages and poorer service conditions." Jack Straw, then opposition Home Secretary, said, "there are no intrinsic differences in efficiency between the public and private sectors. Virtually all the difference in cost is explained by lower pay." Interestingly enough, Mr. Straw is now on the government side and advocates for the private prison system.
The most remarkable coincidence of all was that while our Corrections Minister was visiting, the British government released its most recent crime rate figures. It would appear that Britain’s move into privatized corrections has coincided with a massive increase in the British crime rate. While the rate of violent crime in the GTA fell by 3.9 per cent last year, and the total crime rate fell by 7.9 per cent, Britain’s crime rate soared.
The 1999-2000 report from the British government held these shocking numbers:
We hope that Rob won’t forget to include these tidbits of information when it comes time for him to start promoting the British model of privatized corrections. However, he may gloss over the facts considering that the government’s own polling revealed that 70 per cent of Ontarians are saying "Get Back" away from privatization (see next story). Will our Minister listen? Or will he soon be calling British private prison companies singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand?"
Government poll confirms OPSEU findings
A Tory government poll on privatized corrections has confirmed OPSEU’s findings that 70 per cent of Ontarians are opposed to private jails.
The poll, conducted by Angus Reid, coincided with a Vector Research poll conducted last February by OPSEU. The OPSEU poll was dismissed by Corrections Minister Rob Sampson as being "skewed" in favour of the union.
Liberal Corrections Critic David Levac obtained the government polling information as part of a document package that the Tories were obligated to release at the close of the last parliamentary session.
"The results of this poll are consistent with what people across the province are saying about private, for profit prisons," says Levac. "The people of Ontario are aware of what an abysmal failure privatization has been in the United States and around the world and they are saying no thanks."
The poll results also indicate that despite an aggressive mail and advertising campaign, undertaken at taxpayer expense, the conservative government’s credibility on the prison issue is falling.
"It is shameful that the government spent upwards of $100,000 of taxpayers’ money on an exercise that could have been accomplished by actually going out to the communities across the province that are being affected by these decisions and listening to the citizens," added Levac.
Two more communities on board
The Resolution Warrior is back!
Len Mason, president of Local 737 (Thunder Bay Jail) has returned after a brief hiatus and is continuing his assault on northern municipalities. This week, the Township of Beardmore (west of Geraldton), and the Township of Emo (west of Fort Francis) have added their names to the "no private jails" list.
One correction: The Town Fort Francis deferred the resolution as opposed to passing it. That, as well as duplication on the municipalities list, means that the resolution count remains at 84.
Lateral transfers moving again
It would appear that the Ministry is once again processing lateral transfer requests. Members who wish to apply or renew their requests must send their applications to:
Members must also forward a copy to OPSEU head office, to the attention of:
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Carol Whitehead (ext. 356) at