Corrections BC information lacking relevant data

The recent “Quick Facts” ad regarding the proposed correctional facility presents several concerns, beginning with the city’s question: “would Penticton residents have the opportunity to provide input into the location of the building on the proposed site ...?” This presumes that OCP and zoning bylaw amendments are in place. Why are comments restricted to site location details?

The recent “Quick Facts” ad regarding the proposed correctional facility presents several concerns, beginning with the city’s question: “would Penticton residents have the opportunity to provide input into the location of the building on the proposed site …?” This presumes that OCP and zoning bylaw amendments are in place. Why are comments restricted to site location details?

Other concerns include:

Why hasn’t the city made the studies on economic benefits available? Where do costs and risks get examined?

Why hasn’t Corrections BC provided B.C. data on prison impacts?

Why are they suggesting communities like Penticton have the same absorption capacity for a prison as larger, more diverse centres such as Vancouver, Kamloops, Victoria or Nanaimo (with their greater availability of support services)?

What are Corrections BC’s commitments to adequately resource their re-integration services, affected community services, and any required new policing? (This is important, because according to “Quick Facts”, for every inmate there are approximately 10 released prisoners under supervision.)

The stated rationale for the prison is that inmate populations are growing and demand must be serviced. Surely the Okanagan is not generating over 25 per cent of provincial need.

The city’s primary reference in “Quick Facts” is a short 1995 literature review by Larry Fehr which cites studies largely from the 1980s. It cites conclusions such as “benefits seem to outweigh the minuses” without providing reasons, and several citations refer to predicted rather than actual impacts.

Despite the contributions of Mr. Fehr’s organization in social enterprise and rehabilitation, reliance on his dated synopsis of even older studies is inadequate. Citations of positive impacts are at odds with the rigorous analysis by WSU researchers (2004 and 2010) which demonstrated prisons impede growth in rural areas such as ours.

Corrections BC has dismissed the WSU research as “American” but they now cite earlier American reports to support their position. Outdated references are no substitute for a proper impact study, which is the norm for major, contentious projects. Why does Corrections BC rely on a “trust me” approach and present no B.C. or Canadian data?

Corrections BC places the onus on citizens to prove their jail is undesirable, and the city focuses only on jobs and grants but ignores costs and risks.

The “Quick Facts” ad clearly stops well short of city council’s promised “due diligence”.

Denis O’Gorman

 

Penticton