Prison Farms

Canada Corrections, in its ‘infinte wisdom,’ has decided to close Canada’s prison farms. Their reason? Apparently the farms cost too much to maintain and very few prisoners who worked on the farms went on to get jobs in agricultural. Sadly, the government’s short-sighted view will compromise the ability of Corrections Canada to rehabilitate inmates.

Working in agricultural is about so much more than getting a job out of prison. Some of these farms had livestock. Anyone who has been around farm animals in any capacity would know the healing power of animals. Looking after the animals gives people a sense of responsibility and pride in their accomplishments. They would need to approach the work calmly and kindly to be effective. Inmates would be able to see the effects of their behaviour on other live beings – this is serious rehabilitation that could not be replicated. Forming caring relationships, even with animals is a key element in any rehabilitation.

Growing crops may not seem like a skill set needed in our technical society. Starting something, setting goals and seeing something through to the finish are invaluable, transferable skills. Many people who commit crimes do so because either they do not have other skills or they do not believe that they do. Agriculture is hard work. Inmates who have been successful doing hard work have a much better chance at integrating into back into society.

Corrections Canada is responsible for incarcerating and rehabilitating convicted criminals. While the prison farms may not have turned a profit, they certainly provided locally grown food and rehabilitation opportunities to inmates. Providing skills and a sense of pride and accomplishment gives a great deal to the inmates. In doing their work on the farms they would learn patience and perseverance. They would need to work together so that the farm was both safe and successful. The government has yet to announce a replacement for the prison farms beyond ‘decommissioning’ the farms. What a sad outcome.

A Trans Travesty


Katherine Johnson wants her johnson gone- because that’s the only way she’ll be allowed to transfer to a woman’s prison.

The above was the headline on this morning’s Province in Vancouver. I am stymied as to why the editors of the Province think that it was ok to further humiliate and denigrate Katherine Johnson (unfortunately, I have not been able to find a link to this story as of yet).

Here is the synopsis. Katherine seems to have always had gender identity disorder. She has been involved in criminal activities for most of her life. It would seem that many of her struggles with law have been rooted in her untreated medical condition. She has had her testicles removed and she remains desperate to have her penis removed. She has been assessed by two psychiatrists who have deemed this procedure a medical necessity. She has tried to remove her penis several times herself.

So why hasn’t this procedure been done? It seems that Corrections Canada would rather see her suffer in a male prison than give her medically necessary treatment so that she can transfer to a somewhat safer female environment. The descriptions in the article stated that Katherine spends most of her time in her cell, does not shower and barely eats. Could it be that she is depressed? According to the article she has been attacked several times in prison and been forced to have sex with other inmates to gain personal protection. It is up to Corrections Canada to protect her. She needs to have the surgery and be moved to a womens’ prison. If a prisoner needed any other kind of surgery it would be performed. There is no excuse for allowing her to languish, depressed and untreated in a men’s prison.

Now, on to the headline. I was rendered speechless when I read this headline. It is completely transphobic and sadly some redneck will likely read it and have his/her beliefs validated. Unfortunately the story may also generate pressure on Corrections Canada to not give Katherine the medical treatment she needs. The politically conservative climate does not help this situation as I am sure that Corrections Canada is getting their direction from their political masters in situations like this one. I can only hope that saner heads prevail and Corrections Canada steps up and allows her to have her surgery. What a travesty.