Conrad Black attacks Stephen Harper’s law-and-order agenda with a lot of big words

Conrad Black attacks Stephen Harper’s law-and-order agenda with a lot of big words

Critics of Stephen Harpers prison corrections plan may have just found an unlikely ally—none other than convicted felon and noted fancy talker Conrad Black. On the brink of his return to prison—the Lord is back in the hoosegow today—Black unleashed his impressive vocabulary on the Conservative government in Ottawa in a diatribe wherein he expressed his “violent disagreement” with Harper’s “so-called roadmap” for Canada’s prison system.The Toronto Star has the story:

To Black, Canada is about to model the U.S. prison system — which he describes as an inhumane and unjust factory farm that dehumanizes inmates, breeds an underclass that can never reintegrate and will exact a long-term toll on society.

It wasn’t the close confinement (no worse than boarding school), the strip searches (“tedious”) or the public address system that blared all day long (“extremely irritating acoustically”) that appalled him.

Rather, Black says the penal system isolates and punishes for life “a very large number of people who have been for the most part socioeconomically comparatively disadvantaged.”

Of course, Black’s criticisms aren’t anything new—what’s more interesting is the fact that he, of all people, is saying it. His poetic recollections of his own prison experiences made us gag last week, but Black is no bleeding-heart prison activist, and his complaints aren’t all about cold showers and hard pillows (although he did tell Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning that his time in “primitive hotels” and cottages prepared him for his stint in the slammer—right, Conrad).

Sure, Black’s issues with the prison system are easily written off—after all, he’s currently a prisoner himself (and apparently he scares female prison guards)—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on the mark. Also, his points aren’t necessarily based on his own experiences; his beef is more with the larger implications of a system that keeps people moving in and out of jail for their entire lives. So, as long as he keeps up the bombast, we’ll probably keep listening. See you on the outside, Conrad!

Conrad Black’s broadside against Canada’s prison plan [Toronto Star]

(Images: Conrad Black—Charles LeBlanc; Stephen Harper—Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας)