Stop the fear mongering

I am writing in response to Patricia Kushner’s letter to the Western News dated June 1, 2011.

I can only hope that Ms. Kushner wrote her letter in the heat of the moment before she had a chance to think about what she was saying. It is difficult to know how to give a reasoned and rational response to it.

The statement that struck me the hardest was her statement that we live in paradise and therefore a prison should not be located here. Really? Where exactly do you think a prison should be located? What town/city/place is deserving of this cursed institution? How will it be decided? Will you look at the populations’ morals, their income, their demographic makeup? Where exactly is the place which you have decided is deserving of a prison? Is it anywhere but where you are?

As for the idea that jails somehow will kill tourism, Vancouver pre-trial services was located on the edge of Gastown for many years, it did not have an effect on tourism there.

I also found her assertion that having our children “serv(ing) the needs of criminals” is somehow denigrating, to be offensive. My father and my brother have combined total experience of 40 years as prison guards. My father went to work every day and did his job well. It fed me as a child, educated me, and I am proud of the work they did both in keeping the community and the inmates as safe as possible.

I have watched young people leave this town because the employment is largely part-time, low-paying and without future advancement. It seems to me that a large number of the anti-prison lobbyists that I have seen are retired people who are no longer in the workforce and occupy a privileged position when it comes to making a living. I wonder how they would feel about it if they were looking for work?

So this is what I say. If the majority of Pentictonites don’t want a prison here, so be it. But please stop with the fear mongering and the hysterics. Look at the issue from both sides and make the decision. Prisons have to go somewhere, and we need to decide if the possible benefits are worth it.

Gwenellen Tarbet