Welcome to Club Fed?
October 2, 2012
Pizza parties, barbeques, and goodies like chocolate and take-out fast food are things we all like to enjoy from time to time, normally on the weekends, to celebrate or just because it’s been a long week.
Prison inmates are no exception. But they’re not just dreaming about these treats and fun while serving their time. They’re actually experiencing it from behind bars.
Canadians were recently given a glimpse into the lives of maximum-security prison inmates at a Saskatchewan penitentiary thanks to some documents obtained by the press.
It turns out the prisoners have junk food receipts to rival most college frat houses. In one month alone, $1,843 was spent on Kentucky Fried Chicken grub. In the same month, $766 was spent on take-out pizza.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has assured the public he’ll put a halt to these “finger-licking good” prison perks.
It’s not the money spent on the fast food and socials that’s at issue. Prisoners paid out of own pockets.
It’s the fact that these perks are being enjoyed by prisoners, period.
The last I checked, prison is supposed to be a punishment, not a summer camp. Prisoners are sent to jail not just to keep them away from society and for rehabilitation, but to be punished for their crimes. And that means not being able to enjoy doing what you want — like ordering out for KFC.
No one is saying that inmates should eat gruel and stare at a blank wall all day long. But they are serving time because they’ve committed a crime against society. If they are in a maximum-security prison section, they’ve committed a very serious crime and ordering take out and enjoying barbeques should not be part of their penitentiary lifestyle.
Defenders of the pizza parties claim it does no harm since taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for it. They say that prison social activities are important to rehabilitation and the fast-food privileges can act as an incentive for good behaviour.
Doesn’t letting maximum-security prisoners enjoy the luxuries of outside life defeat the punishment purpose of prison? These inmates are sent to jail for the worst crimes, like murder and rape. One has to wonder how the victims and their families feel about these perks.
Surely, there must be more constructive ways to foster good behavior than junk food. And barbeques are not necessary for rehabilitation.
This column was originally printed in this weeks 24 Hours Vancouver.