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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 12, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 4 THf UTHMIDOi HBUID jMm 12, 1973 Prison staff aims for trust, respect Concluded from Page 3 pcrience, few arc willing to go through the process again. (The average education of the 455 inmates is about Grade School interest However, he says, the groat influx of drug offenders flood- ing the penitentiary system is helping to make the academic program more acceptable. For most Of them, their only inter- est has been school. Coupled with these formal and not so formal programs, prison staff is heavily commit- ted to setting up an atmo- sphere of respect and trust which they feel is paying div- idends, in both economic and human terms. In a departure from prison practise a decade ago, prison- ers are not referred to by num- bers, or by their last names. And although iron gales were installed when the institution was built which can close off one area of the prison from another, they are never used. Once inside the mstal and barbed wire fence, inmates are almost as free as staff to wan- der around the complex. The national recidivism (the term used to describe prisoners released from jails who are convicted and sent back) rate for federal penitentiaries is about 85 per cent, while the rate for Drumheller is about 15 to 25 per cent. "We're saving the taxpayers a hell of a lot of Mr. Stewart claims, "but we're con- cerned about rehabilitation be- cause ttiey're people, not be- cause it's cheaper to rehabili- tate them." When the institution was built in 1967, the federal gov- ernment also built four other penitentiaries on the same model: Springhill, N.S., Wark- worth, Ont., Cowansville, Que., and Malsqui, B.C. But Mr. Stewart claims pris- on officials at these four other institutions are "more maxi- mum minded. Here, we have a better rapport with the in- mates." The rapport and program- ming replace the gun towers and light control of other pan- itentiaries. "If you trust the in- mates they'll live up to that trust, although you're taking a Mr. Merrett believes. But "if you tell them they aren't worthy of trust, then they'll live up to that feeling." Screened All prisoners coming to Drumheller penitentiary are screened by the parol? service, tha only institution in the coun- try so served. This means, within certain limits, that prisoners coming to Drumheller are those with some chance of being rehabili- tated. "We didn't used to be a re- ceiving institution, we would just take transfers from other penitentiaries and the parole service would screen which in- mates would Mr. Slew- art says. "When we started receiving prisoners directly from the courts, the parole service con- tinued to screen them." If a .prisoner causes trouble which cannot be adequately dealt with by staff at Drum- helkr, he is switched to anoth- er penitentiary. And as another indicator of the success of the Drumheller experience, about 50 prisoners have been transferred to other institutions since the prison opened, while its sister institu- tion at Warkworth sends bacir more than that number every couple of months, Mr. Merrett says. Despite the success, Mr. Stewart feels prisoners should ba released with a solid eco- nomic foundation and suggest- ed that inmates should receive a regular salary while in jail, out of which they could pay board and room. ''Very few inmates who leave with a solid financial footing come Mr. Stewart says. Incentive A salary would provide an over-all incentive and might motivate inmates who could not be reached normally, he adds. The day-parole system and pre-release centres do provide some opportunity for inmates to build up some savings but the majority of prisoners dca't have access to these programs, Mr. Stewart says. Of the 455 prisoners at heller penitentiary, 35 are working in the town at regular wages. The penitentiary service has established 15 community, or pre-release, centres, two of, which are in Alberta. Grierson Centre, in Edmon- ton, has been in full operation for several months and cur- rently has an inmate population of about 49. While some of the prisoners at centre attend school, most hold regular jobs 'and pay 95 a day board and room. There is no security staff at the pre-release centre and in- mates are free to come and go as they wish, as long as they sign out. A psychologist is on duly 24 hours a day. Bob Clark, director of the Grierson centre said in a Her- ald interview the centre's func- tion is to finish the rehabilita- tion work done in Drumheller, or other penitentiaries. Discordant Interjecting a discordant note into the melody sung by Drum- heller penitentiary staff is the acting director of Kenwood Re- habilitation Centre, a pro- run institution for al- coholics and drug addicts north of Edmonton. "You can't rehabilitate pris- oners inside a said Roger Ccrmier, who worked for two years as a psychologi- cal consultant to Dorechester maximum security peniten- tiary in New Brunswick. A prisoner learns only how to adjust to life inside and a guy coming out of a penitentiary is a post graduate student in criminology, said in a Her- ald interview. "Incarcerat i o n doesn't deter he said, pointing to the high recidivism rate at the pen- itentiary level. The answer has to come when a person first comes before the courts, Mr. Cormier said. This feeling was echoed by Drumheller staff who said Ca- nadian society puts too many people behind bars. Pierre Jutras, warden of the institution, says that in Canada 50 per cent of those convicted of indictable offences are put in jail. In England the figure is about 35 per cent Too many? "To my mind only the dan- gerous offenders should be locked up those people who exhibit a pattern of violence. "But the guy who murders his wife shouldn't ba locked up for 10 or 15 he says. Society expects its pound of flesh, Mr. Jutras commented. He says in Alberta there is a population explosion in drug of-: fenders. Over 25 per cent of Prumheller inmates are there because of drug-offence convic- tions. Doug Nielson, a Jiving unit su- pervisor at the prison says, the system is not set up for the large increases in inmate popu- lation, to which Mr. Stewart adds that if the institution bad about 100 fewer prisoners, Jl. would be more successful. "Too many people are being sent to he believes. "They should be kept on the street and gives s bellyful of supervision." Striving to trust Pierre Jutras, warden at Drwmheller penhentiory Are murderers misunderstood? A convicted murderer may be one of the most misunder- stood people of all, the director of Drumheller penitentiary said in a Herald interview. "A lifer is a normal person caught in an abnormal situa- Pierre Jutras said. "How the a lifer at Drumheller do you re- habilitate someone who's nor- mal; except for one instant, the same as you or anyone else." Rene Foucher, a 40-year-old Montrealer who has finished seven years life sentence for murdering his wife, and John Wynes, 39, convicted two and one-half years ago in Re- gina for the same crime, asked for The Herald interview so they could tell their story, i i In Canada, a life sentence means life, and even when pa- roled after the average 12 years a lifer spends in penitentiary, be remains under constant su- pervision by the parole service. And further, all parole appli- cations by persons sentenced to life imprisonment must be ap- proved by the federal cabinet, and temporary absences must be cleared with the regional di- rector of the penitentiary ser- vice. Most of the murders in Can- ada are crimes of committed by someone at least acquainted with the victim. The paid killer, who boldly sets out to kfll another person, never gets caught, Rene said. And he added that in the 15 years lie has spent in prison, he has rarely seen another lifer who had murdered either dur- ing the commission of another crime, or under pre-meditated circumstances. Both men agreed that their most severe punishment is self- inflicted. "My biggest punishment is self John Wynes said. "Every week, someone asks about my added Rene, "and that Brings it back." Says John: ]'You're not allowed to forget it, you can only' learn to cope with ik" Neither man said that they shouldn't be in jail for what they did, then- only complaint was the time they are forced to spend behind bars, as prisoners unlike the others. Continued en Page 8 ;