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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 12, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 2 THE LCTHIIUDGE HERALD )3, 1973 'Without the jail the town would die' If k wasn't for the peniten- tiary, Drumheller would be al- most a ghort town, a town ald- erman and newspaper publish- er told The Herald. The medium-security prison, tastefully hidden in the rolling farmland north of the town, brings an annual payroll of about million to the town which before 1967 was depen- dent on agriculture and some coal-mining for its existence. The town counci, the cham- ber of commerce, and the area's Conservative HIP were responsible for bringing the p e n i t e n tiary to Drumheller, said Aid. Ossie Shoddy, who also publishes the weekly Drumheller Mail. Ehvyn Grobe, the town's act- ing mayor, said the peniten- tiary has brought employment to Druroheller and is the only major industry. Annexed And since the council annex- ed the prison properly several jcars ago, both the lax base and the population figures have been inflated. Drumheller may be the only place in the country to consider the inmates of an adjoining penitentiary residents of the (own. Aid. Grobe said the citizens of Drumheller had mixed feelings when the announcement was made that the prison would be built, but "the majority of the people like it." The biggest complaint, lie said, has bsen that inmates on day parole were taking jobs away from the townspeople. However, since the Canada Manpower office was given au- thority by the prison to clear which vacancies could be filled by inmates, that complaint isn't as common, he said. The decision to build the pen- iienliary in Drumheller was po- litically motivated, both Aid. Sheddie and prison director Pi- erre .Tutras said. "A medium-security peniten- tiary was never meant to be built in a small Aid. Sheddie said, because there aren't enough jobs. Mr. Jutras disagreed. "The political choice turned out to be a good administrative decision Track record Tne track record finding jobs for inmates is belter in Drumheller than in any pen- itentiary near a large city. Despite this, staff morale at the jail is good only because people that work behind the fence are proud of the program they developed and several claim that their applications for lateral transfer within the penitentiary service have been stalled by the senior officials at the prison. Peter Merretl, assistant di- rector of occupational training, complained that there is not enough mobility in the peniten- tiary service, "especially from isolated penitentiaries." Mr. Jutras disputed this claim, saying Drumheller insti- tution has the lowest staff turn- over rate in the country, and the lowest rate of sick leave. By WARREN CARAGATA Herold Staff Writer LIVING UNIT IDEA Not every small prairie town can lay claim to the freest me- dium security penitentiary in the country. And while the residents of Di'umhcller haven't w e 1 corned ;hc penitentiary ES they would a prodigal son, most have ac- cepted the fact that a few miles from Drumheller's northern perimeter 455 convicts, includ- ing murderers and armed rob- bers and rapists, work and study wi'.h only a fence and an armed guard in a half-ton truck separating them fram the roll- ing farmland surrounding the