Community won’t see benefits from prison

So Penticton council has changed its mind. We now can express our opinions on the proposed prison and council can proceed with the building of it. Even if 100 per cent of the voting citizens are against the prison.

Will children and new immigrants be allowed to voice their opinion? They have to live here too. Every prison worker that I have met wanted to get a different job:

Has anyone asked the head man at the Penticton RCMP office how he plans to handle a prison riot? Who will be the first responders? Who will back up the prison workers? Where will the extra RCMP officers come from? Where will the military come from if they are to be back up for the prison workers and how long will it take them to get here? How long will it take for the RCMP riot squad to get to Penticton? Our last riot — in the 1990s — it took between four to seven hours to arrive from Kelowna. The businesses in the downtown area were not pleased but it was the then Penticton council’s decision to keep the riot squad in Kelowna. The two previous years had demonstrated that a riot was just barely averted.

Prison jobs are not much sought after jobs. They take a heavy toll, mentally and physically. There is nothing glamorous about being a jailer. They are very unhappy jobs. I have lived in a town where RCMP officers were not appreciated by quite a few of the residents and perhaps the prison workers might get the same reception.

The families of prisoners often follow them to the city closest to the prison. Often they have small children and the women are on welfare because finding a job that pays well enough to pay for day care and living expenses are very few and far between — especially in Penticton. And who on city council is going to hire a woman whose husband (or significant other) is in Penticton’s prison? Has anyone asked these fine business men that question?

Has anyone asked the renters and owners of condominiums if they want prisoners on a day or weekend pass next door to them?

When these prisoners get out of jail, who is going to put them on a bus or plane home? Penticton is “A place to stay forever.” Once these prisoners have seen the Okanagan, will they ever want to go back to the colder parts of Canada?

I may sound very prejudiced, but I have lived between two prisoners’ families. It was very uncomfortable for all of us. I didn’t know if they would want to talk to me and they were not sure of me and my RCMP officer, husband. We got along very well but I was very cautious when the husband was out on passes. The women were struggling with pressures of all kinds and they did their best. It was hard for them to even take a shower when there was no one else to watch the children. The weight of the entire family, 24-hours a day, everyday, is on them. The neighbours were often uncomfortable and waiting for the worst.

The families of prisoners will need help with their struggles. Will Penticton have services for them? Misbehaving teens, depression, mental health services, sports for children, special recreation passes for struggling families, transit passes, special rates for taxis? If the prisoner has drug issues will there be services to him? Will we get a detox centre? Or just more pushers? Right now it doesn’t seem likely that low-income earners will get any benefits from the new Community Centre. Will the prisoner families get all the perks and our hard-working low-income earners get nothing?

Has Penticton’s council addressed any of these issues? They should list the advantages right now so we can all read them, or will we just get extremely stressful, thankless, jobs?

I have read an article that said it would be cheaper to transport the prisoners than to build, staff and maintain a new prison. So let’s just transport them. They are tried one at a time, not 700 at a time. Put the new prisons in the same cities, (Kamloops, Prince George, Vancouver) when one riots the extra staff from the other prison can be the backup. Efficient use of people and funds.

When the seniors recreation centre, long-term care facility and apartments were opened to low-income people, a lot of the seniors moved out because they were scared of some of the new tenants. Being that we have been building almost all housing projects for seniors and 55-plus, we could have a glut of empty condos, towers of them in fact.

When seniors feel threatened they leave. They come from all over Canada and they could go back.

Jane Turnell