Panel created for possible reopening of prison farms

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Kingston –  It’s been 7-years since this dramatic scene unfolded outside of Collins Bay Institution.
The removal of cattle marked the end of prison farms in Kingston.

“That day – August 2010 was a very sad day when they took the cattle away…”

Since that time – farmers like Jeff Peters have taken part in weekly vigils, signed petitions and attended numerous town hall meetings to bring the cows back home.  And that dream could soon be a reality.  Correctional Service of Canada has formed an advisory panel to provide input on the possible reopening of prison farms at Collins Bay and Joyceville Institutions.  Peters is on the panel and says the move is a step in the right direction.

Jeff Peters/Beef Farmer
“We’re very excited to be able to give Corrections Canada the advice that we have so we would like to put a sustainable farm together, one that the inmates can get the skills that they need as well as the help they need to rehabilitate.”

Peters adds the cows play a big part in the farm they want to propose.  A number of them were purchased after the program was cancelled and have survived.  Peters says they’re ready to head back to prison and he’s hoping by summer next year they’ll be out in the pasture.

Nikki Jhutti
“All seven members of the volunteer panel were chosen for their expertise in agriculture, business and employment opportunities for offenders.
They’ll work alongside CORCAN – a rehabilitation program of CSC – which will run the farms.”

“Working with your hands and working with soil and working with animals as therapy…”

Dianne Dowling is also on the committee.  She says in addition to rehabilitating prisoners there’s a number of benefits to reinstating the farms.

Dianne Dowling/Organic Dairy Farmer
“This is about 15-hundred acres between the two institutions that belong to the public and they’re some of the best farmland in the Kingston area so 15-20 years from now we may desperately need this land for growing food for our region.”

And even though Corrections Canada has not officially made an announcement – it’s asking its volunteers to gather feedback from the community to recommend strategies moving forward.
The first panel meeting is next month in Kingston.

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