May 16, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Funny and how true is it?

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colin-wilsonweb2The following was sent to me by one of our readers that was funny and also made me think and ask: How true is it?

Food for thought!
Put all the old people in jail!

Here’s the way it should be:

Let’s put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.

This would correct two things in one motion:

Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical
treatment, wheel chairs, etc.

They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly… If they fell or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.

All meals and snacks would be brought to them.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education…and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.

Simple clothing – i.e.. Shoes, slippers, pj’s – and legal aid would be free, upon request.
There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.

Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.

They would receive daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.

The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

As for the criminals:

They would receive cold food.

They would be left alone and unsupervised.

They would receive showers once a week.

They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.

They would have no hope of ever getting out.

“Sounds like justice to me!”


Chris Knockleby writing on the Christy’s Houseful of Chaos website asks the same question. Thus is what he found?

A September 2012 article about a London, Ontario facility describes problems with a lack of surveillance and the resulting problems with inmate violence. It describes problems with lack of telephone access resulting in problems communicating with the lawyers, and it tells of an Ontario judge reluctant to send first time offenders to prison for fear for their safety there. Hardly the luxury setting described in the meme.

A Calgary Herald article talks about overcrowding in Alberta and Ontario women’s prisons resulting in four women being kept in a visiting room: “the room has no running water, no toilet facilities and no built-in cell call alarm system, nor does it offer the amount of living space, privacy and dignity that is available in a purpose-built cell.”

Another article talks about prison libraries being run by volunteers since 1996 and closed for a lack of staff. The John Howard Society has more information about the condition of prisons in Ontario. Standing out to me was this description:

The Committee was particularly disturbed by the complete lack of programs and services for the remand population. This is the case in all provincial correctional facilities as the Ministry of Community and Correctional Services’ policy is to concentrate all available program resources on sentenced prisoners. Remand prisoners have no access to the gymnasiums, the schools or the libraries in these institutions and cannot take advantage of any psychological/rehabilitative programming available to sentenced prisoners. For these prisoners, there is nothing to (sic) meaningful to do every day, all day long. At best, it amounts to warehousing, but, for those who spend long periods of time on remand, some for many months and even years, it could be characterized as cruel.

Half an hour of reading online doesn’t make me an expert on prison conditions and I don’t claim to be. What I do claim is that we need to be careful what facebook memes we pass on and we need to challenge the ones we see. We should ask ourselves where the meme applies to (Canada? The United States? Elsewhere?) and if the facts back the meme up. Most memes won’t present sources for their facts, and in some ways that becomes more insidious in implying that the idea is just common sense.

Sometimes causes like promoting the myth that prisoners are treated too lightly are mixed with other causes like the idea we need to treat our elders better, so people will pass them on because they agree with one side of the equation and they don’t think through the implications of the other side. This meme wasn’t really about the conditions of senior’s homes and it wasn’t real information about the conditions in prisons (or it would have mentioned which prisons its talking about). The meme was simply to reinforce the stereotypes that prisoners are treated to lenient – a stereotype with little to no basis in fact and that forgets that those in prison are also our brothers, neighbours, cousins, grandchildren, etc.

And none of this is to say that we shouldn’t be treating the eldery better than we do. But that’s another story and another post.

To read the whole article go to:

I well remember the myth when I first came to live in the Cayman Islands 35 years ago that HMP Northward was a Holiday Camp like Butlins in the United Kingdom.

It wasn’t until I actually visited the establishment in my capacity as a Quantity Surveyor when it was decided to upgrade it I realized just how cramped and poor the conditions were there (and still are). Animals had more space. Because of budgetary restraints the government did not go ahead with the project.

Soon after I started CITN/Cayman27 there was a prison demonstration about the conditions or lack of such there.

There is a grain of truth in myths but most are based on the 1% not the 99%.

I still enjoyed the “Food for Thought” though. I am sure you did too.

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