#95 – AMERIKKKA, Part Seven: The Prison Song

English Canada doesn’t realize how hypocritical its barking about AMERIKKKAN prisons is.

Yes, American prison reform is urgently needed. But Canada has an overcrowding problem, a racialized incarceration problem, and a kick-the-can plan to deal with the problem. Just like big brother! But Canadian prisons are better because they’re Canadian. The 56% increase in self-inflicted injuries caused by crushing two people into cells designed for one is obviously excusable because AMERIKKKA is evil you guys. In both Ontario and in the Prairies, the already-strange 20% allowance for double-bunking prisoners has been exceeded. Double-bunking as official policy gets the label strange because prisons are actually supposed to have a surplus of spaces just in case the plumbing leaks.

Canada’s amazing solution? Just ship prisoners all over the country! Yeah, nothing stupid about that – except that the Auditor-General found that the practice was costly, created increases in operating costs, and that at any rate even the $700m investment in prisons cannot resolve the issue because prison populations are expected to outpace the number of new cells by 2018. Or that the new building was done unplanned and without a long-term plan in mind. Private prisons need not apply – Canada can centrally plan just as badly with public prisons as the private sector can in the United States. Astonishing! Long-term plans are for fools who don’t believe in the healing powers of Canada.

Preventing Canada’s prisons from falling further into violence, systematic racism, and disrespect for the dead was a man named Howard Sapers. He was an effective ombudsman, noticing an awkward racialized prison system starting to develop whereby the 40% of non-whites in prison throughout the country (including 25% indigenous, which is an amazing showing for 4% of Canada’s total population) get sent to specific institutions to do their time. He found that Indian prisoners tended to get slammed into solitary confinement and tend to be on the receiving end of prison guard brutality more often than not. It was Sapers who suggested that maybe a 5m square cell – about the size of a condo bathroom – is not a good enough spot for two people. Sapers wants to keep doing the job, saying that his work isn’t finished. Indeed, it isn’t.

Canada, for its part, is so alarmed about rising costs and inefficiencies in the noble task of caging people (not to mention human rights and even basic safety concerns) that it plans to fire Sapers. No reason given. No reason needed. No plans for fixing any of the problems, either. Because, as we all know, firing the meanie-bad-guy who dares suggest that Canada’s prisons are not so magical and divine that ne’er-do-wells have their Snidely-Whiplash moustaches snipped off and become model citizens immediately.

But AMERIKKKA has different prison problems, so Canada’s problems aren’t real and we should just ignore them.

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