Prison brings opportunities

I have read many letters discussing the possibility of a correctional facility being built in our area and the possible negative impact on our community; more specifically the impact on the retirement and tourist population.

What about the possible impact our community will have on the criminals? Most “criminals” just make bad decisions, they aren’t career criminals, they aren’t bad evil people; they are neighbours, church members, colleagues, people we encounter daily; that maybe as a society we label individuals as deviant and evil only after a law infraction.

How many people can say they have never broken the law? I see people everyday speed past me on Highway 97, smoke by a public entrance to a building, have a few beers with dinner and then drive home. Why couldn’t we use this opportunity to change a cold, impersonal situation into a life-changing alternative to their current life?

Also I am so sick of hearing how this will effect tourists. I live here, I pay taxes, I shop locally year round, I respect my community Ń in the end they don’t. You are willing to allow tourists to dictate our community’s opportunities?

I respect the individuals that have chosen Penticton as their retirement destination, but in the end we need all types of individuals to support a community. Families move away, graduates take their diplomas elsewhere and contribute to bigger cities that offer more. Why can’t we do the same?

I moved here from Calgary because I saw something in this community that was different. I chose my new career because of the inspiration this community has given me. But after I receive my degree I will have no choice but to follow the graduates before me and move to a city that can offer me a career and use Penticton as a vacation destination.

Look around you, criminals are everywhere, whether ex or current they are a part of our society; we need to learn to accept that they are people too or we will continue to perpetuate the negative connotation that is associated with offenders and crime.

Let us lead the country in providing a new direction in rehabilitation and correcting deviant behaviour. Let’s be known for something more than Ironman, wine and a place to party in the summer.

Angie Wouters