Media Release – 12 March 2018
REHABILITATION PROGRAM EXPLOITS PRISONERS AND ANIMALS
KINGSTON, ONTARIO – With $4.3 million in funding to restore Kingston’s prison farms, Correctional Services Canada (CSC) has announced plans to establish goat dairy at Joyceville Institution. The program will initially farm 400 goats whose milk will be sold to a multinational infant formula factory. At peak production, Feihe International will source milk from 100,000+ goats, and ship 85% of its product to China.
While Collins Bay Institution will introduce crops and horticulture, Joyceville was selected for animal agriculture because of its on-site slaughterhouse. In addition to inseminating goats, removing newborn kids and machine-milking their mothers, prisoners will be trained in slaughtering and butchering the goats and other animals from approximately 350 local farms.
As a rehabilitation program, this has raised eyebrows, red flags, and ire among citizens of Kingston.
Since 2016, Evolve Our Prison Farms has campaigned for a prison farm model that promotes health and environmental sustainability through plant-based agriculture, and offers human-animal therapy through farmed animal sanctuary.
This model was one of three recommendations issued by CSC to Minister Ralph Goodale in 2017. The other two models were cow and goat dairy.
An evolved prison farm would exemplify the government’s stated priorities: emphasizing rehabilitation, addressing climate change, and demonstrating gender sensitivity.
Instead, the government has selected a model that undercuts each of these.
Exploiting and slaughtering animals is profoundly inappropriate as a rehabilitative model, and it is a top contributor to climate change and environmental degradation.
Moreover, dairy is the manipulation of female reproduction and sexuality. Ironically, the government revealed its prison dairy plan on International Women’s Day, demonstrating a conspicuous lack of awareness and sensitivity.
In a recent survey, Joyceville inmates voted 70% in favour of plant-based agriculture and/or sanctuary over a dairy model.
“I personally could not be present in any area where animals are being killed,” writes one prisoner. “I have suffered a trauma so profound because of the offense I committed that just the thought of seeing any living thing die is unthinkable to me.”
In December 2017, prison farm advocates in Kingston delivered a 13,000 signature petition calling for sanctuary for any animals brought to prison farms.
Despite a professed commitment to transparency and evidence-based decisions, the government has blatantly ignored the voices of prisoners and the public, as well as testimonies from experts in law, criminology, climate change, and interpersonal and animal abuse.
Putting foreign economic interests ahead of democratic process, the government has revealed that the restoration of the farm program was never about responding to public demand, and it was never about rehabilitation.
Evolve Our Prison Farms will continue to campaign for a logical, ethical and sustainable prison farm model. Vigils and protests are being planned to expose and oppose this shameful decision to exploit prison labour and vulnerable animals under the guise of rehabilitation.
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