Saturday, January 26, 2008

Do prison inmates deserve their privacy?

TV shows like Prison Break tend to glamorize prison life. Yes, they show the violence, but they tend to make the characters more sympathetic. Some of them. And we forget why they are there.

In real life, this sometimes happens as well. Some prison rules allow for many of the same comforts we have at home. And there is a lot of controversy around this. How much do prisoners derserve these creature comforts? What rights do they have?

Today, Matsqui prison, located in Abbotsford, BC, went into lockdown. Apparently, a woman with a baby stroller tried to pass through security, but the stroller tested positive for cocaine and guards stopped her. AOL News reports that the woman was allowed to continue with her visit but that she was reported to the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

So the inmates retaliated.

170 inmates set fires in the yard and refused to return to their cells. Why? Because they think their privacy is not being respected. They believe they deserve privacy.

Reading this reminds me of a similar situation in which guards set fires at Mastqui. In fact, I used the situation fictitiously in my novel Whale Song. For those of you who've read my novel, you'll recall there is a scene where a fire breaks out at Matsqui and prisoners had to be airlifted off a roof. It happened back in the 80's.

Reading today's Globe and Mail story, made me think of 2 things: Whale Song and the fact that these inmates should count themselves lucky they get to have visitors. Or time out in the yard in the fresh air and sunshine. These people have been convicted of crimes. They are paying for their crimes in a locked facility. That's what they deserve, and they are lucky that they are still alive and being fed, clothed and sheltered.

What I find even more disgusting is that the guards were able to find traces of cocaine on a baby stroller. What the--? Any mother who would use her child as a drug mule needs a good smack in the head...and her kids should be taken away.

Read the Matsqui story on Globe and Mail.

Read the Matsqui post on AOL News.

If you pick up Whale Song, you can read about the earlier fire in Matsqui prison. Some is truth and some is fiction. :)

And please feel free to leave a comment about this story. Do prison inmates deserve to have privacy? Was this a fair call by the guards?

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

1 comment:

Juanita Rose Violini said...

Have you seen and what do you think of this?

Kansas governor's son creates prison-themed board game, 'Don't Drop the Soap'

Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 | 5:18 PM ET
TOPEKA, Kan. - The son of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is peddling a board game titled "Don't Drop the Soap," a prison-themed game he created as part of a class project at the Rhode Island School of Design.
John Sebelius, 23, has the backing of his mother and father, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius. The governor's spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, said both parents "are very proud of their son John's creativity and talent."
John Sebelius is selling the game on his Internet site for $34.99, plus packaging, shipping and handling. The contact information on the website lists the address of the governor's mansion. Corcoran said the address will change when John Sebelius moves.
"Fight your way through 6 different exciting locations in hopes of being granted parole," the site says. "Escape prison riots in The Yard, slip glass into a mob boss' lasagna in the Cafeteria, steal painkillers from the nurse's desk in the Infirmary, avoid being cornered by the Aryans in the shower room, fight off Latin Kings in Gang War, and try not to smoke your entire stash in The Hole."
The game includes five tokens representing a bag of cocaine, a handgun and three characters: wheelchair-using 'Wheelz," muscle-flexing "Anferny" and business suit-clad "Sal 'the Butcher."' There's also a soapdish parole card holder.
Corcoran said John Sebelius sought legal advice to be sure he followed proper requirements, and he even took out a loan to pay for the production of his work.
"This game is intended for mature audiences - not children - and is simply intended for entertainment," Corcoran said.
The game also goes on sale starting Jan. 31 at a shop called Hobbs in the college town of Lawrence. The site describes, "Don't Drop the Soap" as a game "Where no one playing enters through the front door!"