Watchdog says prison violence is on the rise; Toews says it’s decreased

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Canada’s federal prisons are getting more crowded, more tense and more polarized between young and old inmates – and that’s contributing to an increase in violence and deaths behind bars, says Ottawa’s prison watchdog.

As new rules send more people to prison for longer periods of time, correctional investigator Howard Sapers argues, it’s putting a greater strain not only on Canada’s aging prison infrastructure but also on its inmates.

“The indicators that we look at in terms of getting a measure of institutional violence are all going in the same direction,” Mr. Sapers said. “And they’re all going up.”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews argues that’s not so.

“I haven’t seen that statistic,” he said. “There isn’t as much prisoner-on-prisoner violence that used to exist eight or nine years ago, before we put in policies that restricted some of the movement of prisoners.”

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