Spa Day – The Horror… THE HORROR!

Prison officials deny hosting inmate ‘spa day’ News Staff

Word that inmates at a women’s jail in Ontario were treated to a ‘day at the spa’ has sparked a debate on what constitutes appropriate punishment.

Word of an August 21st spa day offered to all inmates at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario was leaked by one of the prison staff last weekend.

Citing an anonymous source, a report published in Saturday’s National Post suggested the prison’s inmates had indulged in a “luxurious spa day” during which they “had their colours done” before sipping tea from fine china and listening to a harpist’s serenade.

When questioned, however, Correctional Service of Canada spokesperson Diane Russon insisted reports of the day’s events were off the mark.

Far from an over-indulgence, Russon says a team of local estheticians volunteered their time to offer instruction in basic hygiene — not to provide facials and manicures.

“We don’t want to see it as pampering,” she told CTV News. “We want to be able to see it as teaching the women alternatives, teaching them alternative choices and basic hygiene skills that they may never have had.”

Inmates also paint a less than glamourous picture.

“They’ve blown it so out of proportion that they’re making it look like we’re little princesses in here,” Grand Valley inmate Bonnie Levy told CTV.

“All we had was the opportunity to put cream on our own hands and face… maybe the opportunity to have our nails painted. Our names were picked from a hat.”

But the special counsel to the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime isn’t buying it.

“I’m not really sure that most people would agree that these are particular everyday skills that people in federal prison need to acquire,” Scott Newark told CTV.

Newark feels so strongly, in fact, he calls the day an insult to the victims of crime.

“I don’t think Canadians have any degree of confidence when they see these kinds of so-called rehabilitation techniques applied to people in federal prison.”

Echoing Newark’s outrage, the Police Association of Ontario and Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino have both released statements condemning the activity.

The Toronto Police Association’s George Tucker says a sweeping inquiry needs to look into this and all other prisoner treatment policies.

“For once someone will take the bull by the horns and start an inquiry to find out what is going on at corrections Canada.”

Built in 1997, Grand Valley houses groups of eight to 10 medium- and minimum-security inmates in cottage-style residences.

Prisoners held at the facility include Marcia Dooley and Mary Taylor. In 2002, Dooley was convicted of torturing and murdering her seven-year-old stepson in a case the judge called “the worst case of child abuse in Canadian penal history.”

Taylor was convicted in 2000 of stabbing Toronto undercover police detective Bill Hancox to death with a butcher’s knife.

Although they were invited, neither are believed to have attended the ‘spa day’.


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