Behind Bars: Criminal factories (Video)

Canada’s jailhouse population is changing — more prisoners, but also more gang-bangers, addicts, natives, women and the mentally ill. Critics say it’s an explosive mix. Randy Richmond looks at the changing face of incarceration in the first of a three-part series.

More prisoners, more gang members, more mentally ill, more women, more natives, more blacks, more addicts.

The population in Canada’s federal prisons and provincial jails is growing, its face changing dramatically.

That’s making life behind bars more dangerous and more costly, guards, politicians, researchers and prisoners themselves all warn.

Worse, if we don’t adapt to those changes, they warn, life on our side of the bars is going get more dangerous.

“You basically have a machine out there – a big factory in our prison system that is generating hardened criminals,” says Terry Mertick of London, Ont., who’s served in federal and provincial correctional centres.

“We all have to take a role in changing it. If you don’t, everybody’s going to pay the price.”

Opposition critics echo the warning.

“What we’re going to see here is prisons increasingly become universities for crime,” federal Liberal corrections critic Wayne Easter charges.


Complete text and video linked here.

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