As expected, Ottawa unveiled another significant round of prison building initiatives today, part of the Conservative government’s scramble to get cells built swiftly enough to accommodate a surging prison population. The number of convicts going to penitentiaries is spiralling upward because of Tory get-tough tactics. The announcements today total $158 million in spending on 624 new cells at eight prisons in four provinces.Government MPs unveiled the plans at four separate news conferences. In Ontario, Beaver Creek Institution in Gravenhurst gets 50 more cells, along with Pittsburgh and Frontenac Institutions in Kingston, which also get 50 more cells each. In Quebec, Cowansville and Donnacona institutions gets 192 and 96 additional cells respectively. In the West, Riverbend Institution (50 cells), Willow Cree Healing Lodge (40 cells) and Edmonton Institution (96 cells) will expand.
An internal Corrections Canada memo I obtained last year listed 35 pens that would be expanded. By my count, these latest announcements bring to 30 the number of prisons publicly identified for renovation, meaning the Tories are nearly through their list of pen renos.