All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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Few inmates become reformed at St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary because prison rehabilitation programs are negligible, a Toronto prison worker said yesterday.
Phil McAiney, director of the rehabilitation program Narconon, spent two days recently at the Special Correction Unit of the maximum security institution.
He classified relations between the staff and inmates as "open warfare where hatred and fear are the weapons". And he charged that rehabilitation programs consist only of baseball and a weekly visit by the prison psychiatrist.
"The inmate is merely batted between the two," he insisted.
"The 59 prisoners in the unit are locked in cells with solid metal doors for most of the day and not even permitted to eat together.
"We've tried that solution for hundreds of years and it's obviously not working when the return rate to Canadian penitentiaries is 80 per cent."
McAiney originally approached the prison to investigate inmate complaints of guard brutality. While he found no evidence of beating, he explained he discovered a deplorable impasse in prison structures.
"Life there is like a bad movie," he said. "The psychiatrist treats his patients with distaste and told me some would be better off dead.
"Most guards harass the prisoners, yet live in constant fear of them. The convicts have laws of their own and an aberrated view of society, which permits no honest communication in return."
According to McAiney, this mutual clash has led to a situation where major problems like homosexuality are regarded as untreatable and unprevenlable.
A convict living in those conditions is bound to become insane eventually, he said.
The Special Correction Unit houses the maximum security "problem cases" inmates who cannot even be fitted into prison life in other federal penitentiaries.
McAiney suggested that the Narconon program be offered as a positive benefit to these convicts.
Programs now exist in 15 American prisons and the director cited an 80 per cent success rate at the Arizona State Maximum Security Institute. Narconon thrusts ex-cons, inmates and occasionally guards, into daily discussion groups.
Prisoners learn to confront their problems and proceed along a charted course to a more stable life view.
"When I explained it to several inmates they were enthusiastic," said McAiney.
This fall, McAiney will complete a tour of federal penitentiaries and then file "unsolicited" recommendations with wardens and the federal Canadian Penal Institutions.
St. Vincent de Paul warden Pierre Goulen expalined Narconon would probably be allowed into the prison then. He denied, however, that rehabilitation programs were lacking.
"We have some discussion groups and Alcoholics Anonymous," he said. "And within the next year we're converting to a new system of therapy."
A Canadian Penal Institution spokesman confirmed a program similar to Narconon would be introduced soon.
"The therapeutic community concept will house small groups of prisoners together for discussion group therapy," he said. "Some prisons are now trying it. The guards will be taking courses within the next year and it will then be implemented."