A group called the Pen Farm Herd Co-Op has been planning to re-establish the herd at the prison farm in Kingston, Ont., closed by the Conservative government.

A group called the Pen Farm Herd Co-Op has been planning to re-establish the herd at the prison farm in Kingston, Ont., closed by the Conservative government.
Photo Credit: Maureen Brosnahan/CBC

Canada’s prison farms redux

Share

The idea was to give prisoner’s useful work, reduce food costs for the prison system itself, and possible give them training for a career upon release.

Canada has had prison farms since the 1880’s. Up until 2010, Canada had six of them: two in Ontario, and one each in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.

That year though the Conservative government shut down the programme saying that farming was not a useful rehabilitation method in today’s high-tech society.

Aerial view of the Collins Bay-Frontenac prison and surrounding farmland in the city of Kingston Ontario.
Aerial view of the Collins Bay-Frontenac prison and surrounding farmland in the city of Kingston Ontario. There are concerns that the 900 acres of prime farmland could be lost to development pressure if the farm operation is not restored © Google Earth

The government then closed and sold the prison farmland in the east and west and closed the two farms in Ontario located near the city of Kingston. The decision was highly controversial at the time and groups have been agitating for their restoration since then.

About 200 local residents contesting the plan to close the prison farms demonstrated outside Corrections Services headquarters in Kingston Ontario in 2010
About 200 local residents contesting the plan to close the prison farms demonstrated outside Corrections Services headquarters in Kingston Ontario in 2010 © Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Jeff Peters, a member of the Kingston area group Save Our Prison Farms said, “Closing the prison farms didn’t make sense. The farms provided meaningful work experience and training, as well as rehabilitation and therapy. Prison staff told us that inmates who participated in the prison farm program were less likely than inmates overall to re-offend when they were released, so the program made our communities safer.”

Now the Liberal government has launched a feasibility study on restoring the two Ontario farms near the city of Kingston.

Responding to a question in the House of Commons, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said the government was launching a feasability study and online survey on restoring the two Kingston farms.   “This process will allow citizens, business leaders and other stakeholders to share their visions for what the program could look like, and it will allow the government to review the cost and efficacy of reinstatement,” said Goodale

Catherine Latimer, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, a prisoner aid and counselling society, was pleased with the news.

“We think the restoration of the prison farms would be a wonderful idea … I think there are a variety of skills that are derived from the prison experience,” Latimer said, adding, “Learning how to be responsible, how to develop a work ethic, working collaboratively with others.”

The Kingston farms had some 1500  acres of top quality farmland located in and near the city, and locals are concerned that farmland is at risk of development if the prison farms are not restored.

The Joyceville (medium security) and Pittsburgh (minimum security) prisons just north of Kingston with livestock, farming and abattoit oeperations
The Joyceville (medium security) and Pittsburgh (minimum security) prisons just north of Kingston with livestock, farming and abattoit oeperations © Google Earth

In 2010 one ad-hoc group calling itself Pen Farm Herd Co-op, quickly raised enough money to buy 23 of the penitentiary’s cattle and have been “fostering” the cattle at local farms in the hope that they could eventually sell them back to Corrections Canada to restart operations if and when the farms are restored.

The prison farms near Kingston previously had a large dairy herd of about 300 cattle, and several thousand chickens which provided milk and eggs for some 15 prisons in the province as well as local food banks. Friut and vegetable production and at the Joyceville/ Pittsburgh institution there was also an abattoir that processed animals for about 300 small local farms.

Catherine Latimer hopes the farms are not only restored, but updated and points to prison farms in Britain where co-op programmes have created fully functioning restaurants. Quoted in the CBC she said,” There is a real opportunity for there to be more skills that are marketable coming from the prison experience”.

additional information-sources

Share
Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Economy, Environment, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Canada’s prison farms redux
  1. Richard Thompson says:

    If the Collins Bay prison farm is not being used why was there farm equipment on the property spraying chemicals to kill the ground cover? Possible Round-Up kill all? Very obvious after a few days.Prevailing winds that day blowing towards Henderson Place subdivision and schools!