Margaret Atwood calls plan to close prison farms “dumb as a stump”

Margaret Atwood calls plan to close prison farms “dumb as a stump”

Margaret Atwood scared us into improving our recycling habits with her novels about environmental apocalypse, but the CanLit queen doesn’t confine her eco-activism to the realm of fiction. She was in Kingston this weekend to head a protest against the closure of the country’s six prison farms, where inmates currently produce much of their own daily bread. Before the marchers posted their demands on the door of the Correctional Service of Canada, Atwood rallied the crowd with a feisty speech in which she argued that, besides being a big step back from sustainability, the supposed cost-cutting measure is penny-wise and pound foolish: the farm program helps rehabilitate prisoners and equip them for a life outside prison, where they won’t continue to eat up taxpayers’ dollars. The author did serious research on Kingston Penitentiary for her 1996 book Alias Grace, so she probably knows what she’s talking about.

True to form, the ever-candid Atwood didn’t mince words in her conclusion:

[The decision] is also dumb as a stump and stupid as a box of hair and also a sack of hammers, and those who thought it up have their lights on but nobody home, and aren’t playing with a full deck. Follow them, and you’ll soon be up an aptly-named excrement-filled creek without a paddle.

Well, there you go.

Save Our Prison Farms Rally, Kingston, Ontario, June 6 [Year of the Flood blog]
Margaret Atwood to join prison farm march [Kingston Arts Council blog]