Personally, I am in favour of Lumby receiving a remand centre. As a recent graduate of the correctional studies program in Lethbridge, Alta, I have learned the ins and outs of the prison system and how they are run.
To be honest, before entering the program, I had many of the same opinions as a lot of the people opposing jails; ‘they are dangerous, it could make communities unsafe, they will just stick around once they are out.”
But after three years of learning about corrections, I have come to the realization that all of these fears are fairly unfounded. Prisons pose minute risks to public. Many of the prison escapes that are published in the news are not escapes at all; they are just low-risk offenders, who are not a risk to the public, walking away from job sites. High-risk offenders who escape are extremely rare.
Remand offenders would not have the opportunity to be outside of the prison walls besides going court because of the fact that they are on remand. Offenders in remand have not yet been sentenced and, therefore, are kept under much higher surveillance and supervision. Also, when those offenders leave the remand centre, they are sentenced and would be sent either to federal or provincial institutions, not let out on the street.
The correctional officers are highly trained in static and dynamic security procedures which maintain the security of the entire institution.
There is a prison in Lethbridge, where I was studying, and I rarely heard people mention the prison because it was out of the way and people just seemed to forget it was there. Crime does not increase simply from placing an institution in a community, especially since the offenders in that prison won’t have the chance to be there. They will stay inside the prison.
Considering the economic downturn in recent months, the opportunities that would arise from building a prison are numerous, and would provide many people with well-paying jobs.
Now, I may be slightly biased because a new prison would give me a career opportunity, but I am not the only one. Even if Lumby residents decide to pass on the prison, another community in the Okanagan will decide to have it built since Penticton has shown interest in it.
Although residents may be fearful, from an opinion based on three years of knowledge about corrections, I really do not think there is anything to worry about safety-wise, and neither do many of the other communities with prisons in them.
Of course there are slim chances that negative things could happen, there always are. But the fact is that they do not happen on a regular and frequent basis.
They usually happen years apart and are extremely rare. So, I encourage Lumby residents to truly research the positives of building a correctional centre and not just blindly follow the naysayers, because you may give up one of the best opportunities that the village has been offered recently.