Superjail not having big social impact 0
Rod Sutherland, who manages the welfare rolls at the City of Kawartha Lakes and is pictured here working in his office in the Provincial Services Building on Kent St. W., said the office has not seen a direct increase in welfare cases as a result of the Central East Correctional Centre. LISA GERVAIS/The Lindsay Post
Editor’s note: Today we present part eight in a series examining the effect of Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre, which was unveiled 10 years ago on Aug. 28. Part nine comes Tuesday.
LINDSAY - Some people think former inmates of the CECC have moved into Lindsay and created socio-economic challenges for the town.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services originally told us it does not track this information.
Pressed further, it said “the ministry makes efforts to transfer inmates to correctional facilities closest to their homes prior to their release. If an inmate does not have funds for transportation, the ministry will provide them the most economical mode of transport, typically a bus ticket.
“The ministry will also assist those inmates who have no means of getting to the local bus or train station.” However, Ontario Public Service Employees Union local 368 vice president Chris Butsch says “once an inmate gets into a mini van, and they say they want out at Mac's on Lindsay St. S, we have no right to hold them.”
It is tricky because no one has statistics on how many out-of-town inmates have actually relocated to the City of Kawartha Lakes. Only A Place Called Home hostel co-ordinator Nicole Byrant would provide a guesstimate of 5%.
However, a number of social service agencies insist out-of-town inmates and their families are not moving here and the city's manager of social services said there appears to be no impact on welfare rolls.
The Post spoke with the local John Howard Society, Canadian Mental Health Association's justice services and A Place Called Home as well as Rod Sutherland, manager of social services at the City of Kawartha Lakes about this issue.
Laura Maw is executive director of the JHS which offers programs at the jail and in the community.
“What we are trying to do is help them when they are released into their community because the inmates aren't released into our community here. They are released into the community where they were arrested. The ones that get released here are residents of our community but the ones that are released into the community where they were arrested are generally taken there a couple of weeks before the end of their sentences and so what we will try to do is give them some connections, for example to the John Howard Society there, for a program. We are trying to connect them with their community.”
Maw said they attempt to ensure that former inmates are “not getting off a bus and not knowing where they are going. People need to have a place to go and something to do. We make sure they have a roof over their heads and something to eat because if they don't, they may be compelled to go out and re-offend.”
Maw says when it comes to City of Kawartha Lakes residents serving time and being released into the community one of the biggest challenges is a lack of transitional housing. “We don't have anything like that in this community and it would be helpful.” She said they encounter people not allowed to return home for whatever reason as part of their court orders and “they have to go somewhere and it's not a safe situation to leave somebody who is upset with no place to go out on the street and they need to be somewhere.”
Laura Green is the team leader of justice services at the CMHAs Kawartha Lakes branch.
They run a formal program called 'the release from custody program' that has been financed by the province since 2006. “It is to assist individuals in a correctional centre in their re-integrations into their home community, wherever that home community is,” Green said.
She said staff attend CECC five to six times a week, seeing about 400 people a year.
“(Staff) speak with the individuals face to face ... find out their stories, find out what's going on and look at being a resource to them to help bridge that gap, connect them with those services they need in their home communities,” Green said.
About 30 to 35% of the inmates they see are from the Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge area and the rest are from outlying communities, Green said.
Green said the goal and design of the program is “to offer that level of support and to let the entire community know that these individuals can change and perhaps are willing to change. They know that there is somebody there to support them because perhaps they don't have the skill set, or knowledge.”
Bryant said they “generally” only deal with people from the local community although the “odd time” they do get an out-of-towner showing up on their shelter doorstep. However, she said they refer them to services in their home community.
“Discharge is pretty good up there (CECC). We don't see anybody that's coming from the jail not from this community.” She said the occasional out-of-towners would only comprise about 5% of clients.
Zita Devan, who sits on APCHs board, is confident the CECC has lived up to its promise of returning inmates to their home communities. She said the occasional out-of-town released inmate will show up at APCH. She said staff call the jail and they will send a taxi to pick the person up and take them to the bus station.
She said “it is a small percentage of people. I personally don't see it as a huge impact on our day-to-day lives.”
The Post also stopped into Kawartha Lakes Reach for Recovery to see if anyone wanted to talk but has so far had no calls.
Rod Sutherland manages the welfare rolls at the city. He said there is no way to track where people come from before applying for assistance, including if it was from the jail.
However, he said “anecdotally, we have never seen any direct increase as a result of the jail.
“While caseloads have gone up in recent years, it is the result of overall economic changes.”
He added “as it is a provincial institution, with sentences of less than two years, we don't see people moving here to be closer to their incarcerated family members.
“That is much more prevalent with federal institutions like Warkworth where sentences are longer. “
- part 9: one former jail inmate, an out-of-towner who has made the City of Kawartha Lakes home, disagrees.