Provincial opposition criticizes perks for jail inmates
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:02PM CST
Opposition MLAs are raising concerns over Manitoba's corrections system.
Kelvin Goertzen, the PC Party's justice critic, said he spotted inmates watching pornography in January.
"There were three women who were naked, one man who was naked and they were performing a sexual act," said Goertzen, who was on a tour of Milner Ridge Correctional Centre at the time.
The pornography from a satellite channel was being viewed on a television set in a common area.
Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan said the incident was a mistake and should not have happened.
"It was a blocked channel. It appears there was a short advertisement that had been running on that channel. Staff were not aware of that and steps were taken to make sure that did not happen again," said Swan.
Goertzen, however, said the incident is just one example of a larger issue.
He said prisoners should not be getting perks that many other Manitobans cannot afford.
"They have access to and they can play video games. There are now in some of the newer prisons flat-screen TVs," he said.
Some, however, said removing perks could pose issues.
"You're going to have so much mental instability that trying to deal or have an environment where people aren't bouncing off the walls – it's going to be really hard," said Greg Robson, a former gang member.
"They should have everything that anybody needs trying to change their life and we should try to provide that," said Barry Stuard, a retired judge.
The Manitoba government said it will continue to provide recreational programming, including basic television to inmates. But that does not include pornography.
A password has been added to the channel viewed by the inmates in January to ensure it can't be switched again. As for why inmates had access to satellite television at Milner Ridge, the reason is that basic cable is not available at the location.
Along with television, inmates have access to a range of programming, including those aimed at treating addictions and domestic-violence issues, along with anger management.