14 Jan 2012

Asking relevant questions

I think this person asked some very relevant questions, hence my reposting this letter to the editor

Rehabilitation of prisoners to support their re-entry into society is a welcome initiative.

While these prisoners can be deemed as a "strain" to society, creating more harm than good and costing taxpayers, they are human beings and are entitled clothing, food, sleeping accommodation and health care.

Furthermore, society shouldn't be quick to lose hope that wrongdoers are condemned into a life of crime. Therefore reducing recidivism is indeed a prudent option.

However, in an attempt to update anachronistic prison rules one must not lose sight of the purpose of prison to begin with.

Rehabilitation should encompass the social aspect of allowing prisoners to feel remorse for their crimes. Prisoners should feel a certain level of disconnect from society and understand that "punishment" entails not having certain "privileges". This exclusion from society, family, friends and loved ones should act as a primary motivation for prisoners to want to be rehabilitated.

The proposed revision of the Prison Rules in 2012 includes a detailed system of communication of visits which allows prisoners to communicate with their family, friends, attorney, telephone use, video visits and conjugal visits for those who meet eligibility criteria.

One would hope that the pros and cons of these proposals must have been considered and involve serious thought on the following:

1) What exactly is the eligibility criteria?

2) What does the screening process for prisoners who are eligible entail?

3) Who is responsible for the management of the points- based system and the classification of prisoners?

4) Testing for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to ensure prisoners do not transmit diseases to their spouses. However, what about testing the spouses to ensure they do not transmit diseases to the prisoners (who can then in turn transfer to other prisoners)?

5) What is the stance on prisoners and their spouses who want to conceive?

6) If a female prisoner wants to become pregnant, can the state "mandate" contraception and/or preventative measures on the female prisoner?

7) Women impregnated by a mate in prison equal single parent households not only with financial burdens but social and moral consequences involved in raising a child without the presence of a father.

8) Aren't prisoners supposed to be supervised and monitored 24/7? As such how "private" are these conjugal visits going to be?

9) Is there the possibility of pornographic videos and pictures arising from smuggled cellphones?

10) What is the cost to taxpayers of modifying prison facilitates to accommodate these conjugal visits and the cost of managing these initiatives?

Ultimately, one must ask, how necessary is it for a prisoner to have the privilege of sex in the rehabilitation process? Depending on the eligibility criteria and the "points requirement" to be awarded conjugal visits, it is quite possible the prisoner is already at a standard to be considered as rehabilitated!

These prisoners are in jail for a reason. They are already being maintained at the taxpayers' expense. There are other problems areas such as roads, infrastructure, health care systems improvements etc. that require dire attention.

So how supportive would taxpayers be to spend money to transform jail into a "hotel"?

M Boodoo