Volume 93, Issue 59

Friday, January 14, 2000


Bus pass to face new referendum

Enrollment stats to see increase

McMasters TAs reach settlement

New Year's prison party raises concern

Small amounts of praise for small towns

Hospitals stuffed up with vaccinations

Bass Ackwards

New Year's prison party raises concern

By Jennifer Wallner
Gazette Staff

Corrections Canada and the Matsqui Institute, a federal penitentiary in British Columbia, are under fire for permitting a New Year's celebration among inmates.

On Jan. 9, from the early afternoon to the early evening, inmates at Matsqui held a post-New Year's Eve party, confirmed Wayne Marston, Matsqui's assistant warden of management services.

"The prison contributed $700 worth of pizza," he said. "The other favours including snow cones, popcorn machines, a hockey game and a golf game [complete with] a nine iron to practice chip shots, two Sumo wrestling costumes and two palm trees brought in as decoration, were paid for by the inmates themselves."

The prison did not hold the New Year's Eve party on Dec. 31 as a result of Y2K concerns, Marston said.

Reform Member of Parliament Randy White, whose Langley-Abbotsford riding includes Matsqui, said he had a number of concerns, such as the rehabilitational effectiveness of a party.

"[Corrections Canada's] idea for rehabilitation is off track," he said. "Real rehabilitation will come, not by having parties, but by focusing on addiction programs, anger management sessions and developing skills through meaningful work programs."

Jacques Belanger, regional communications manager for the pacific region of Corrections Canada, disagreed with White. "We have an obligation to prepare the inmates for their return to society," he said. "Part of this process is to provide them with some social activities, which includes peaceful interaction between the inmates.

Ian Brodie, a political science professor at Western, said he thinks public opinion would seem to support White's position. "All the polls indicate that the public feels life in prison is too easy," he said.

However, Paul Whitehead, professor of sociology at Western, agreed with Belanger. "Most people who are sent to prison will be returned at some point to the larger society. What we want out of the incarceration process, are inmates to learn to live in pro-social ways."

Whitehead said prison officials can run various programs to accomplish this goal. "There are a number of activities to help with this," he said. "Education, development of skills and even providing occasions for interactions which are not only peaceable, but pleasant."

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