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Holding The System In Contempt Essay, Research Paper

Holding our Sytem in Contempt

By Erin Kelly

With matted hair and a battered body, the creature looked at the heartless man outside the cage. Through the dark shadows you could only see a pair of eyes, but those eyes said it all. The stream of tears being fought off, the glazed look of sheer suffering and despair screamed from the center of her soul, but no one cared. In this day in age I am ashamed to think that this is someone’s reality, that this is an accurate description of a human being inside a Canadian women’s prison . Exposing the truth behind these walls reveals a chauvinistic, corrupt process that serves no greater purpose. The most detrimental aspect of all is society’s refusal to admit the seriousness of the situation and take responsibility for what has happened.

Imagine Kirsty and Marc, a young couple who resort to robbing a house in a desperate attempt to make money. They are caught, charged with the same crime and given the same sentence, except for one thing: the male dominant world we live in does not stop at the courtroom door. Marc is sent to a medium security prison one hour from his family with every opportunity to earn his way into a minimum-security facility. He spends his days learning to cook in the kitchenette and has access to basic necessities like aftershave or hairspray. Meanwhile, Kirsty walks into her frigid six-by-ten foot cell with bars for a door, a toilet in plain view and not a trace of sunlight. She is twelve hours from home with no hope of changing location since there is nowhere else to go. The stories of rapes, beatings and riots told by her new neighbours are endless. Kirsty realizes that the only way for her to survive this place is to oppose nature and forget what it is to feel. This is discrimination against women as they are penalized more severely than men for committing less crime. How can women strive for equality when they cannot attain justice in the justice system itself? The controversy over the gender bias goes beyond the “too-few-to-count” syndrome as Sally Armstrong calls it, it is a question of women’s constitutional right to be treated equally.

Looking beyond women’s issues and questioning basic humanity, we find a deceptive, unstable yet somehow egotistical governmental department. With an organization like this in control, there is no hope of rehabilitation for the prisoners as was discovered throughout the inquiry performed on Correctional Services Canada. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the CSC denied participating in any sort of unethical behavior. The inmates had reached out for help several times by submitting complaints of unfit living conditions to the commissioner, but they were brutally rebuffed. This so-called correctional service subjects women to unwarranted strip searches and twenty-four hour camera surveillance. The abuse did not even stop when the system was under scrutiny as women were seen being transported in “cages” like savage beasts.

These women endure torturous trials and tribulations to come out fully rehabilitated, law-abiding citizens, right? Wrong. As one prisoner puts it, “A woman’s power and self-esteem are so desecrated in there, despair takes over. You can’t see over it or around it or through it.” The horror of their day-to-day lives inside those walls prohibits them from looking optimistically towards the future. With no incentive to behave, to change, to even live, the inmates make no progress. This system is wasting precious time and money, not to mention ruining lives. The process is barbaric and cannot even pretend that the ends justify the means.

The mere existence of facilities that allow people to be treated like this is a disgrace to humanity. The preferential treatment that men receive is a violation of women’s rights. The immoral and criminal actions of the correctional services weakens the integrity of our government. The lack of encouragement and purpose given to female inmates renders the general public’s time and money virtually futile. Canada does not seem to realize the significance of the political statement being made by our leaders as they fail to intervene. Through ignorance, the correctional system is destroying lives and if we do nothing to stop them, then we are too.

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