Corrections Canada building goat farm for the prisoners it’s torturing | Jeffrey Hartman
Thursday, February 25, 2021 @ 1:58 PM | By Jeffrey Hartman
“Rage on Omnipotent”
Talk Talk, Eden.
Talk Talk, Eden.
It was 3 a.m. I was awake. Sometimes I get up in the night, sometimes I don’t. But this night, at 3 a.m., I read an article. I must have fallen back asleep because I woke up in the morning and went about my day of fighting with the Department of Justice. At some point I recalled a dream. Like many people I occasionally dream about my work. This dream, though, there was something different about it.
Well it turns out it wasn’t a dream: The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is building a goat farm at Joyceville.
I don’t know how many prisoners I’ve spoken to. Definitely hundreds, possibly thousands. While these discussions are privileged, of course, I don’t think any of them would mind me disclosing that livestock has never come up.
Discussing livestock would be a privilege. Discussing livestock would suggest things are good, that there is nothing more important to want for. Things would be good if livestock was important.
So I’ve spoken to hundreds or thousands of prisoners. The number’s not important. The stories are the same. Actual health care. Actual mental health care. Actual skills development. Actual dignity. Actual respect. You see, it’s not a goat farm that’s missing.
Health care, etc. These things are expensive. But not as expensive as dignity and respect. Health care etc costs money but the currency of prison is power. The power to assign, reinforce and reproduce good and evil. To tattoo stigma. To treat people well enough so they don’t die but not well enough to be successful in society.
That’s why men of the people like Doug Ford and whoever leads the federal Conservatives are pointing prisoners to the back of the vaccination line. Some people spoke out. Sen. Kim Pate, for instance, said: “I find it problematic that individuals who, as far as I am aware, have no medical or epidemiological expertise seem more interested in inciting controversy than in ensuring all efforts are made to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Then we slung bows and arrows about bleeding hearts and getting tough on crime. Parenthetically, I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again: how, after all these years, all this effort, all this law, how have we still not managed to get tough on crime? It is almost as if men of the people don’t want to get tough on crime. As though they appreciate the value of crime.
As you know, this article is titled Corrections Canada is building a goat farm for the prisoners it’s torturing. I’ve discussed the goat farm so now’s the time to discuss torture.
On Feb. 23, many of us in the prison law community awoke to professors Jane Sprott and Anthony Doob’s third report on CSC’s implementation of Structured Intervention Units (SIU). These units, as you may know, were supposed to bring Canada into line with its constitutional and international legal obligations on humane treatment of prisoners. One of those international obligations is the UN’s Mandela Rules.
Coincidently, my computer sits upon Long Walk to Freedom.
More to the point, Rule 44 defines solitary confinement as confinement in excess of 22-plus hours a day without meaningful human contact. Rule 43 states that solitary confinement lasting more than 15 days is torture. And Doob said that 10 per cent of SIU stays qualify as torture and 28.4 per cent fall short of torture by length of stay in days.
Vice News announced Doob’s report on Instagram in an article entitled Canada is Torturing Inmates with Solitary Confinement, Report Finds. The comments were predictable — “Our justice system is too soft as it is. … It’s not a damn hotel,” “then don’t be a criminal,” “Good,” “It’s prison and not a cruise, cry more woketards!” It’s satisfying to dismiss these Canadians as idiots but that’s not really true. Most people are not idiots.
Most people are normal. That’s what Ford and the new Conservative guy want you to be, normal. Do a job even if you hate it. Talk about being extraordinary but don’t rock the boat. Just do what everyone else does and don’t ask too many questions. You see, power is not just the currency of prison — we’re all trading in it.
So there you have it. There will be torture and there will be goat farms. Rage on omnipotent.
Jeffrey Hartman is a Toronto-based criminal lawyer at Hartman Law, with a special focus on prison and police law. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-316-2234.
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