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Why Ottawa rubbed out jail tattoo program

Article by: The Leader-Post
The Leader-Post (Regina) 2007 – Why Ottawa rubbed out jail tattoo program
The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, January 19, 2007
Your readers deserve to get the full picture as to why our government discontinued the initiative to set up tattoo parlours in our corrections facilities (“Gov’t report contradicts Day’s assertion”, Jan. 16 edition of the Leader-Post.)
Canadians were surprised to learn that taxpayers’ dollars were paying for tattoo parlours for convicted criminals. So was I. Unlike the Liberals, Canada’s new government does not believe that spending taxpayers’ money on providing tattoos for convicted criminals is an effective use of public money. Like all Canadians, inmates must take responsibility for their own health.
At the same time, our government continues to support education initiatives that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has put in place in order to educate inmates about the dangers of illicit tattooing.
I would also like to note that the CSC commissioner recommended that we close the six pilot sites for the tattoo project and that UCCO (Correctional Officers Union) called the program “a waste of money” and a “band-aid solution.” UCCO also predicted that the program would result in our correctional officers being assaulted with tattooing needles.
The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation cited the $700,000 program in its annual “Teddy’s Awards” for government waste. Canadian Crime Victim Foundation chairman Joe Wamback called the program “lunacy.”
As well, I toured institutions where the tattoo pilot project was practiced and saw first-hand that this program was not an effective use of taxpayers’ dollars.
Our decision to not provide tattoos for convicted criminals was also based on the draft evaluation report prepared by CSC, which failed to conclusively determine that the health and safety of staff members, inmates and the general public would be protected by maintaining this program.
Even prisoners’ rights advocate Jim Motherall, a former inmate and HIV/AIDS advocate, said that the tattoo program “was set to fail.”
Our new government believes in using resources as Canadians would want us to. That means focusing our resources on tackling crime and crime prevention.
Stockwell Day
Day is Canada’s minister of public safety.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2007