I had all sorts of things in mind for my “I” post: iguana, INDECOM, IMF, Integrity Commission, even ice cream (as in Devon House). And then on Wednesday (June 7) I read the following letter in the Gleaner:
Indignity. Prison visitors treated with indignity. Treated in a contemptuous, insulting, humiliating manner.
This is not an isolated experience or complaint, and it isn’t to say that all staff within corrections and remand treat visitors contemptuously. But it is to say that there is a systemic problem which often makes it difficult for family members to maintain meaningful contact with a relative who has been incarcerated, though undeniably such contact can be vital to the prisoner, the family, a process of rehabilitation and eventual reintegration into society.
One comment following the letter online points to a similar situation experienced at Fort Augusta, the women’s prison, and mentions a lack of shelter for visitors waiting to go inside, a problem that exists at a number of facilities.
I know one facility at which the absence of a shelter for visitors is a real concern for the staff, who have asked for such a structure to be built, even a temporary one. I guess, though, that this is very low on any list of priorities.
The Core Values of the Department of Correctional Services are posted on its website. Among those values is respect. Systemic focus on respect reduces indignity.