Prison won’t alleviate economic woes

There are many opinions, good and bad, about the proposed correctional facility being located in the Okanagan and possibly in Penticton. My initial thoughts were that it would be healthy for the city in that there would be good-paying job opportunities for local people at the facility and the construction of it. That thought has changed over time in learning that experienced union people will be brought in from other areas. Local people could take courses, then could apply for the part-time positions. Hmmm, doesn’t sound like such a great opportunity after all.

When applying for a union job, first join the union then get in line for jobs that are given to the people with seniority. It may take a while. As to the construction of the facility, what are the chances that pre-constructed modules already plumbed and wired will be brought in? There is a U.S.-based company planning to come into the Okanagan that offers exactly that. If that is the case, sorry local plumbers and carpenters. If you are lucky you may get a few crumbs. At the recent forum we were told that local tradespeople could be used for repairs, renovations, repainting, etc. Why would that need to be done in a new facility? Hmmm. It was also suggested at the forum in Summerland that there would be minimal light pollution. How can that happen when the bright security lights must be on 24/7?

The negative impact of having a correctional facility in a cream puff town like Penticton or Summerland really scares me. What an easy target for people being released. We were told that there is a two year maximum prison term and on the average it is approximately six months. Most of the inmates would probably go back where they came from to family and friends. Why not stay here? One of the best places to live on the planet. They could survive easier here than most other places, especially in the winter. Even if they couldn’t afford to rent a home, they could manage on the streets.

We were told that family and undesirable friends wouldn’t bother moving here as the incarceration period isn’t long enough to bother. Hmmm. There was a murder in Penticton a couple of years ago and the person found guilty received 18 months. So I guess he would be the kind to end up in this facility. Is there any guarantee that this facility won’t eventually graduate into a full-blown penitentiary where the worst of the worst would be housed? Then what type of people will filter through our town when they are released? Think about that.

Hopefully, there will be a referendum. The comment in the March 23 paper that ‘economically we need the prison because tourism is down’ — of course, tourism is down, like all other industries suffering from the global downturn. It will recover as it always does. With a prison … tourism … perhaps not. Is this facility a quick fix for the financial woes we are faced with right now?

It’s just not worth it.

Joni Cutler