Saturday, October 15, 2005

Prison Break

While ordinary law-abiding Canadian taxpayers get denied legitimate requests for information under the Access to Information Act, prisoners are being given all the information they need to plan escapes or have guards killed:

Federal inmates are using the Access to Information Act in a bid to obtain information on prison security systems, the names and work hours of corrections employees, and details on drug testing, according to newly released documents obtained by Conservative MP Randy White.

And some prisoners are regularly claiming -- and often receiving -- hundreds of tax dollars as compensation for lost or damaged TVs, missing or stolen pornographic magazines, and even a "purple polka dot comforter" that staff tossed in the garbage after its owner bled on it due to a self-inflicted wound.


or example, one inmate requested in 2003 a list of all full- and part-time corrections employees in Quebec, while another requested a copy of the security manual used by CSC staff. Both requests were "disclosed in part."

Another offender at a maximum security prison made a request last year asking for "all documents or records related to the use, policies and procedures" of drug scanners used to check visitors, as well as records "relating to drug dogs." The response: "All disclosed."

A Correctional Service Canada spokesman said yesterday that freedom of information legislation isn't being dangerously exploited.

"We're not releasing any kind of personal or security information," Guy Campeau said.

"All information we are releasing under Access to Information is totally analyzed to make sure that personal and security-related information is blacked out and not accessible to requesters."

As a group, prisoners are a cunning lot. They have all the time in the world on their hands to plot escapes, arrange smuggling, make weapons and brew, and generally just play the corrections system.

The Corrections Museum outside Kingston Penitentiary (both institutions I've visited--though not as an inmate) is filled with displays testifying to the creativity and ingenuity of prisoners.

It's got police sirens with lights, radios, stills, even guns made out of stuff lying around prison workshops. Not to mention shivs made out of anything that can keep a sharp edge.

One inmate even hollowed out a hiding place in a stack of glued-together food trays and got wheeled out of prison in it.

Just by looking around and listening to the prison grapevine, they can read between the blacked-out lines in a report on prison security procedures. Letting them get any sensitive information through Access to Information is tantamount to handing them the warden's keys.

Source: National Post

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