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While the most recent argument for equipping prison guards with Tasers could have prevented the escape of a dangerous prisoner from custody while being transported to a Halifax hospital may be flawed in theory, the matter has brought to our attention once again the state of the penal system here in Canada and the major issues dogging federal correctional officers.
As noted by Local 480 president Jim Gosse for the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union the days of the baton swinging federal jailer are gone. In fact, they've virtually no armament or protection from the hostile environment they're tasked to control. Pepper spray, batons and stun guns remain under lock and key until disaster strikes. It is when disaster takes charge - and if the responding guard has the time and agility - that guards are allowed to utilize some of these tools.
There's no question the federal correctional system needs to change in favour of protecting its employees instead of encouraging aesthetic mandates to soften life behind bars. Providing guards with the tools of the trade only stands to give inmates a visual deterrent from immediately proceeding with any scheme to push the envelope. And if they do push that envelope the guard doesn't have to fret and stress over finding the proper key to unlock the proper case which resides somewhere in a proper building tucked away out of sight so inmates don't have to feel intimidated by their jailers.
As it stands many federal correctional officers are reliant on a pair of leather gloves as their protection during an emergency situation - a travesty given that no one is ever sent to prison for being gentle.
In an environment where officials contend with infectious disease and where violent offenders can utilize weight-training facilities to become stronger a pair of leather gloves is no match for reality.
It's time Corrections Canada listed more to these union heads before we have a human tragedy on our hands to justify change. It would be such a refreshing change to not have a life lost before government acts on the recommendations they've been hearing all along.

Organizations: Halifax hospital, Nova Scotia Government, General Employees Union Corrections Canada

Geographic location: Canada

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  • DAVID
    March 09, 2010 - 09:26

    Story written by someone who has no idea of the nature of the work involved within a correctional enviorment. It is also evident that the author did not take the time to properlly research the subject. Perhaps a deadline has become more inportant than factual information.