March 31, 2008

More neocon BULLSHIT In Ontario! Score another bs point for Stockwell Day.

only 2 newsgroups picked this up; and the Calgary Sun.
That also says something about the Mainstream media!!


In a stealth attack on the freedom to report on government malfeasance, police or prison corruption, and to do investigative research in areas where then nanny state fears to tread, the federal federal has decided to eliminate the right of the media to question prisoners. To add insult to injury the inane comments about bomb making and leaking details of the prison's security system are an insult to reason. The ultimate security system in a democratic state is a free and independent press able to talk to criminals which can and will include the worst sort of offenders - patsies, political prisoners, and other threats to a corrupt state.

Federal prisoners could be muzzled from media


Canadian Press

March 30, 2008 at 11:44 AM EDT

WINNIPEG — Staff at Canada's penitentiaries have been told that they can turn down requests from reporters to interview inmates out of concern they could be discussing how to build bombs or skirt the prison's security system.

It's part of a broader policy that also allows the Correctional Service of Canada to deny access if there are concerns that media coverage could revictimize those who suffered from the inmate's crimes, or if a prison committee decides it would be "contrary to the objectives of the offender's correctional plan."

Public safety is the priority in any decision about whether to allow inmates to speak, said Jeff Campbell, communications manager for corrections in the Prairies region.

The guidelines, which Mr. Campbell said he received last year, mean that reporters must outline why they want to interview an inmate so the request can be reviewed by a case management team. That team can include a psychologist and parole and corrections officers.

"If you were talking about how to make a bomb or how to zap the security system, that sort of thing, certainly that would be a concern for the on-site folks in terms of the security of the institution," Mr. Campbell said from Saskatoon.

At Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, it used to be fairly easy to talk to inmates such as Frank Ostrowski, a convict who has been trying to convince people for two decades that he's not guilty of the 1986 murder for which he was convicted. Now reporters wanting a word with Mr. Ostrowski — even if they've been speaking regularly with him for years — have to tell a prison media handler each time why they want an interview.

No exceptions.

The policy also requires the institution to consider how a story would affect the safety of people outside its walls.

"Are you going to discuss someone who says, 'On the eighth of July when I walk out of this place, I'm going to track down so-and-so and I'm going to burn their house,' or whatever? That would pose, I think, a concern for the safety of that person," said Mr. Campbell.

"That's an extreme example, obviously, but again, that's something we review with the institutional head, who has the ultimate jurisdiction with granting those requests."

While it's understood that safety is a concern, the suggestion that a media story about an inmate could traumatize victims doesn't make a lot of sense considering the same details would be revealed in court and at parole board hearings, said Jean-Claude Bernheim, the head of a Quebec prisoners rights group

"Free speech must be applied to the inmates," said Mr. Bernheim, a criminology professor based in Montreal.

Craig Jones of the John Howard Society prisoners advocacy group said he has not heard of the guidelines but isn't surprised given the current political climate in Ottawa.

"This government is very controlling of all communications. I think they've put everyone on notice that they don't want anybody speaking extemporaneously or at liberty," said Mr. Jones, the executive director of the Kingston-based organization.

"They are looking, as much as possible, to control every message."

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who is ultimately responsible for Canada's prison system, deferred all questions to the Correctional Service of Canada.

Guy Campeau, the service's acting director of media relations, denied the suggestion that Ottawa is trying to control messages. He noted that only "a clear, clear minority" of reporters' requests to interview inmates are turned down.

"You seem to think we don't want people to talk to certain people. That's not the case here. We have very strict guidelines, and they're in the policy, and we abide by them," Mr. Campeau said from Ottawa.

Mr. Campeau also said the policy has been in place for a number of years, although he may have reminded staff about it last year.

Constitutional law professor Debra Parkes says the government is allowed to limit some prisoners' rights as long as there are strong reasons with a social objective — such as public safety.

But historically the media have played an important role in helping uncover wrongful convictions, so Ms. Parkes feels the government has to be careful about restricting charter rights such as freedom of expression.

"Frankly, as someone who researches in the area of prisoners' rights, I think media interest in what goes on inside prisons is very important in a free and democratic society," said Ms. Parkes, who teaches at the University of Manitoba.

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