Transcript: Constance Backhouse: Ontario's Dark Reformatory Past | Feb 03, 2014

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, yellow shirt, and spotted golden tie. Behind him, a wall screen reads “The Agenda, with Steve Paikin.”

Steve says IT IS A DARK, LITTLE
KNOWN SKELETON IN ONTARIO'S CLOSET.
FROM 1893, TO 1964, WOMEN WHO
WERE DEEMED “TROUBLE MAKERS,”
YOUNG, UNWE HAD AND -- YOUNG,
UNWED AND PREGNANT WERE HELD AS
PART OF THE ONTARIO FEMALE
REFUGEES ACT.
HERE TO TELL US MORE IS
CONSTANCE BACKHOUSE.
A LEGAL HISTORIAN AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA...

Constance is in her late fifties, with blond hair in a bob and bangs. She’s wearing a white blazer over a teal blouse, and a pearl necklace.

Steve continues AND WE'RE VERY GLAD TO HAVE YOU IN THAT CHAIR.
I REMEMBER YOU SAYING TO ME YOU
REALLY GOT TO COVER THIS STORY
AND FINALLY HERE WE ARE.

Constance says THAT'S GREAT NEWS.

Steve says II WANT TO START BY
READING SOME OF THE TENETS OF
THE ACT SO PEOPLE CAN GET A
SENSE OF WHAT THIS WAS ABOUT.
AS WE SUGGESTED, LATE 19TH
CENTURY TO 1964...

A slate appears on screen, with the title “Grounds for punishment?”

Steve reads from the slate
1. (a) AN INDUSTRIAL REFUGE SHALL MEAN an institution for the care of females... an institution to which females may be committed under this Act;
15. (1) Any person may bring before a judge any female under the age of thirty-five who... (a) is found begging or receiving alms or being in any street or public place for the purpose of begging or receiving alms; (b) is a habitual drunkard or by reason of other vices is leading an idle and dissolute life.
17. Any parent or guardian may bring before a judge any female under the age of twenty-on years who proves unmanageable or incorrigible.”
The Ontario Female Refuges Act, 1893-1964.

Steve says LET'S GET INTO THIS.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE WAS A
NEED FOR A FEMALE REFUGES ACT.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Ontario’s dark reformatory past. The female refuges act."
Then, it changes to “Constance Backhouse. University of Ottawa.”

Constance says AREN'T THE WORDS AMAZING?
THEY ARE SO 19TH CENTURY,
INCORRIGIBLE, IDLE, DISSOLUTE.
WHAT WAS GOING ON?
WELL, FIRST OF ALL FOR WOMEN, ON
A WOMEN'S RIGHTS FRONT, THE
LOBBIES THE RIGHT TO VOTE WITH
INASCENDENCY.
THE DEMAND FOR WOMEN TO GET AN
EDUCATION, ACCESS TO THE
WORKPLACE, INTO THE PROFESSIONS,
WOMEN WERE ON THE MOVE.
AND I THINK THIS IS IN SOME WAYS
A BACKLASH, THAT LAST SECTION.
THESE IDLE -- NOT IDLE -- THE
DISSOLUTE WOMEN, THE UNMANGLE,
INCORRIGIBLE WOMEN WHO WON'T
KNOW THEIR PROPER PLACE IN SOCIETY.

Steve says THE PROPER PLACE MEANING?

Constance says A SUBSERVANT, WELL
BEHAVED DAUGHTER AND AN OBEDIENT WIFE.

Steve says WHO WOULD STAY AT
HOME, DO WHAT HER HUSBAND WANTED
AND RAISE CHILDREN.

Constance says NOT GET OUT AND
BEHAVE LIKE AN EQUAL WITH MEN, RIGHT?

Steve says WHAT KIND OF

He makes air quotes and says OFFENCES...
WERE THEY ACTUALLY LOOKING AT BACK THEN?

Constance says FOR THE WOMEN, THE
OFFENCES WERE ALMOST ENTIRELY SEXUAL.
THAT IS PREMARITAL OR
EXTRAMARITAL SEX.
AND IN PARTICULAR -- AND THIS IS
ONE OF THE MOST SHOCKING THINGS
SEX ACROSS RACE.
SO IF THEY CAUGHT A WIDE WHITE
WOMAN HAVING A LIAISON WITH A
MAN WHO WAS Chinese IMMIGRANT
OR AFRICAN-CANADIAN, THEY WOULD
GRAB THEM FOR SURE.

Steve says THIS IS NOT AN
ACADEMIC CASE.
YOU WROTE A PIECE ABOUT IT
MICHELLE LANDSBERG WROTE ABOUT
IT AS WELL.
SHE IS IN HER 80s NOW.

Constance says A WONDERFUL
ILLUSTRATIONS THE CASE OF VELMA
GEDDERSON.
WE KNOW LOTS ABOUT THAT BECAUSE
SHE WROTE A BOOK.
MOST OF THE WOMEN LOCKED UP LIKE
THIS NEVER WROTE OR TALKED ABOUT IT.
THEY WERE ASHAMED.
AND THAT'S A TERRIBLE THING.
THEY WERE ASHAMED WHEN IT SHOULD
BE SOCIETY THAT LOCKED THEM UP
FOR THESE REALLY IMPROPER
REASONS.
BUT THAT'S WHY WE DON'T HEAR
MORE ABOUT IT IS THE VICTIMS
WERE SILENT.
VELMA --

Steve says WHO WAS SHE?

Constance says SHE WAS A
19-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WHO WAS ACTING
OUT TO SOME EXTENT
AGAINST HER
FAMILY'S WISHES.
SHE WAS LIVING WITH A
CHINESE-CANADIAN MAN WHO WAS, BY
THE WAY THE FIRST MAN IN HER
PAST TO BE REALLY NICE TO HER
RESPECTFUL, KIND, GENEROUS.
SHE MOVED IN WITH HIM.
SHE WAS FOUR MONTHS PREGNANT.
AND HER FATHER CALLED THE POLICE
ON HER.
THE POLICE ARRIVED.
SHE WAS IN HER BATH ROBE ALONG
WITH THE CHINESE CANADIAN MAN
AND THEY ARRESTED HER AND THEY
TOOK HER TO JAIL AND SHE WAS
GIVEN NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION,
NO RIGHT TO DEFEND HERSELF.
THEY PRONOUNCED HER
“INCORRIGIBLE” IN THE BLINK OF
AN EYE AND SENT HER TO THE
MERCER REFORMITORY FOR WOMEN FOR
ONE YEAR.

Steve says WHICH IS IF YOU KNOW
TORONTO, IT'S WHERE LAMPORT
STADIUM IS TODAY IN THE WEST END.

A black and white picture of the huge reformatory building appears on screen with the caption “Andrew Mercer Reformatory for women. Toronto, circa 1895.”

Constance says I BELIEVE IT WAS
BUILT -- AS WERE MANY OF THE
EARLY WOMEN'S PRISONS TO BE A
KINDER GENTLER KIND OF PRISON
BUT THEY DIDN'T TURN OUT THAT WAY.
SO I THINK THERE ARE TWO
TERRIBLE ABUSES HERE.
ONE IS THE REASON -- THE UNJUST
REASONS THAT WOMEN WERE PUT IN.
BUT THEN THE NEXT PROBLEM WAS
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM ONCE THEY
WERE INCARCERATED.

Steve says YOU MENTIONED SHE WAS
FOUR MONTHS PREGNANT.

Constance says SHE HAD TO GIVE BIRTH.
SHE WAS PREGNANT.
SHE WENT INTO LABOUR IN THE
INSTITUTION.
BUT IT'S WAY WORSE THAN THAT.
THERE WAS A DOCTOR, AS IT TURNED
OUT A FEMALE DOCTOR WHO WAS IN
CHARGE OF THE MEDICAL TREATMENT
FOR THE INMATES WHO WAS A
SPECIALIST IN VENERIAL DISEASE.
SHE DECIDED TO EXPERIMENT.
ON THE WOMEN WHO WERE LOCKED IN
THE MERCER.
AND VELMA WAS ONE OF HER -- ONE
OF THE WOMEN THAT WAS TREATED
JUST SHOCKINGLY DANGEROUSLY
ABYSMALLY.
THIS IS A POOR WOMAN HELD
AGAINST HER WILL, PREGNANT.
YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW AWFUL THIS IS.

Steve says A TEENAGER.

Constance says SHE WAS CUT,
INJECTED, SWABBED WITH BURNING LIQUIDS.
ALL ACROSS HER GENITAL AREA.
AND SCISSORED.
IT DEFIES DESCRIPTION.
AND THEN SHE WAS REQUIRED TO
TAKE EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE IN
THE FORM OF PILLS WHICH MADE HER
TERRIBLY NAUSEOUS AND WE THINK
ACTUALLY CAUSED HER TO GO INTO
LABOUR AND CREATED REALLY
DANGEROUS SECONDARY RESPONSES
WITH RESPECT TO HER CHILD WHO
WAS THEN BORN WITH TERRIBLE
EXCEMA WHICH IS ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A
CAUSE FROM THESE DRUGS.

The caption changes to "Shameful conduct."

Steve says WAS SHE ALLOWED TO KEEP THE CHILD?

Constance says SHE WAS.
ALTHOUGH SHE HAD TO SERVE OUT HER TERM.
BUT I KNOW THERE WERE OTHER
WOMEN WHO GAVE BIRTH INSIDE THAT
INSTITUTION WHO LOST THEIR
CHILDREN TO THE CHILDREN'S AID
OR WHO FOUND THAT THEIR CHILDREN
WERE KEPT, LOCKED UP WITH THEM
AND ALSO SUFFERED TERRIBLE
DAMAGE AS A RESULT OF THAT.

Steve says THAT STORY, HOW TYPICAL?
THE APPALING TREATMENT SHE
RECEIVED, BORDERLINE TORTURE YOU
MIGHT SAY.

Constance says IT REALLY WAS,
WASN'T IT.
I THINK IT'S ACTUALLY MORE
COMMON THAN WE THINK.
WE NEED TO DO WAY MORE RESEARCH
ABOUT THIS.
SOME OF THESE PEOPLE ARE VERY
ELDERLY.
BUT I THINK IT'S LIKE WHEN WE
PROBED INTO THE INDIAN
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL PROBLEMS.
AND WE SAW ALL THESE VULNERABLE
CHILDREN WHO WERE SUBJECTED TO
PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SEXUAL
ABUSE.
I THINK IF WE LOOK AT SOME OF
OUR PRISONS AND REFORM TRIES,
WE'RE GOING TO FIND MEDICAL
EXPERIMENTATIONS, PHYSICAL
ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE.
IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY
DEVASTATING.

Steve says AND JUST TO BE CLEAR,
ON THE SAY-SO OF A MALE, A
YOUNGER WOMAN UNMARRIED AS
YOU'VE DESCRIBED THE
CIRCUMSTANCES, INCORRIGIBLE ALL
THESE OTHER RIDICULOUS
ADJECTIVES COULD BE TAKEN AND
PUT IN JAIL WITHOUT A TRIAL.

Constance says THERE WAS A TRIAL.
IT LASTED FOR A FEW MINUTES.
THE JUDGE BASICALLY SAID ARE YOU
PREGNANT.
AND VELMA ANSWERED: I THINK SO.
AND HE SAID -- AND YOU WERE
FOUND IN AN APARTMENT WITH A MAN
WHO'S NOT YOUR HUSBAND WHO'S
CHINESE-CANADIAN SHE SAID YES.
SHE SAID INCORRIGIBLE.
AND OFF SHE GOES.
THAT'S IT.

Steve says DID SHE HAVE A LAWYER THERE?

Constance says NO LAWYER.
NO RIGHTS.
NO UNDERSTANDING OF THIS WHOLE
PROCESS.
NOBODY THERE TO PROTECT HER OR
HELP HER.
IT WAS A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE.

Steve says WHAT WAS THE POINT?
WHAT WERE THEY TRYING TO DO TO
THESE WOMEN?

Constance says I THINK THEY FELT
THAT IF YOU WERE REALLY PUNITIVE
TOWARD WAYWARD WOMEN, WOMEN WHO
WOULDN'T BEHAVE PROPERLY,
SEXUALLY, AND BE UNDER THE THUMB
OF FATHERS, BROTHERS, HUSBANDS,
THAT THIS WOULD BE A LESSON TO
OTHERS.
AND I'VE HEARD MANY PEOPLE SAY
SUBSEQUENTLY THAT THEY WERE
THREATENED AS CHILDREN.
YOU KNOW, IF YOU DON'T BEHAVE,
YOU'LL GET SENT TO THAT REFORM
TRY WHERE THEY HOLD THE GIRLS,
RIGHT?
I THINK IT WAS A LARGER LIFE
LESSON FOR ALL THE ONES WHO
DIDN'T GO.

Steve says PUT A PICTURE UP OF
THE MERCER REFORMATORY A WHILE AGO.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU THINK
ENDED UP THERE, DO YOU KNOW.

Constance says HUNDREDS WENT THERE.
HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS.
THIS IS NOT A SMALL PROBLEM AND
IT LASTED FOR DECADES.
AND IT WASN'T THE ONLY ONE.
THE MERCER WASN'T THE ONLY
PLACE.
THERE WERE ALL KINDS OF
DETENTION FACILITIES THROUGHOUT
THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.
AND INDEED CANADA.
WHERE THEY HOUSED THESE WOMEN
WHO WERE HELD UNFAIRLY AND
SUBJECTED TO REALLY REALLY BAD
BEHAVIOUR.

Steve says HOW LONG WOULD A
TYPICAL STAY THERE BE FOR A WOMAN?

Constance says THE REALLY SCARY
THING, SOME OF THEM WERE SENT
FOR INDETERMINATE TERMS.
THAT IS THEY WERE AT THE MERCY
OF THE WARDEN AND THE GUARDS
THERE WHO DECIDED WHEN THEY WERE
FIT TO LET THEM OUT.
AND IN THE EARLY YEARS, IF THEY
WERE DIAGNOSED WITH HAVING
VENARIAL DISEASE SOMETHING VELMA
DID NOT HAVE BY THE WAY IF THEY
WERE DIAGNOSED WITH HAVING THAT
THEY COULD BE HELD UNTIL THEY
WERE CURED BUT THERE WAS NO
MEDICAL CURE.
IT WAS A CATCH-22.
THEY JUST COULDN'T GET OUT.

Steve says WE TALKED ABOUT ONE
INSTITUTION IN THE CITY OF
TORONTO BUT HOW WIDESPREAD WAS
THIS PHENOMENON ACROSS THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

Constance says OH, THIS WAS -- IT
WAS EXTREMELY WIDESPREAD AND IT
WENT ON FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
I SAT AS AN ADJUDICATOR FOR THE
WOMEN WHO CAME OUT OF THE GRAND
VIEW SCHOOL FOR GIRLS IN GALT,
ONTARIO, NOW CAMBRIDGE.
AND THAT WAS ANOTHER TRAVESTY OF
JUSTICE IN TERMS OF THESE POOR,
YOUNG WOMEN SNATCHED FROM THEIR
HOMES WHERE THEY WERE VICTIMS OF
SEXUAL ABUSE INSIDE THEIR HOMES.
AND THEY WERE IN TERRIBLE SHAPE.
THEY HAD PARENTS WHO WERE
DYSFUNCTIONAL, MENTALLY ABUSIVE.
AND THESE GIRLS WERE SENT TO
GRAND VIEW.
IN THEORY TO REHABILITATE THEM
AS IF THEY NEEDED
REHABILITATING.
IT WAS THE FAMILY AND THE
SOCIETY AROUND THEM THAT NEEDED
CURING.
BUT THEY WERE SENT.
AND THERE THEY WERE SUBJECTED TO
UNBELIEVABLABLY HORRIFIC STREET
ON THE PART OF THE GUARDS.

Steve says I SHOULDN'T ASSUME A
LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT
THIS.
BUT I AM GOING TO GO OUT ON A
LIMB HERE AND SAY I DON'T THINK
ANYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS.
OR I THINK VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW
ABOUT THIS.
WHY DO SO FEW PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS?

Constance says I THINK THAT'S
HEART BREAKING.
WE HAVE A SOCIETY THAT LOCKS
PEOPLE UP.
WE HAVE LAWS LIKE THE ONTARIO
REFUGES ACT.
AND THE CRIMINAL CODE WHERE WE
LOCK PEOPLE UP AND THEY CAN'T
GET OUT AND THEY CAN'T PROTECT
THEMSELVES AND THEN WE TURN A
BLIND EYE TO IT AND WE SAY GEEZ
YOU KNOW MAYBE THEY DESERVE WHAT
THEY GET.
IT'S ON OUR SHOULDERS WHAT
HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO ARE LOCKED
UP IN THESE PRISONS AND IN SOME
CASES LOCK DOWN GROUP HOMES,
EVEN.
WHAT'S HAPPENING?
I THINK WE LOOK AT THE HISTORY
AND WE SEE THESE TERRIBLE ABUSES
WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES HOW ARE
WE DOING TODAY?

The caption changes to "Theagenda.tvo.org"

Steve says BEFORE YOU GO THERE
BECAUSE I WANT TO PURSUE THIS A
LITTLE BIT MORE.
USUALLY WHEN THERE HAVE BEEN
ETHNIC-BASED DISCRIMINATION IN
THE PAST, LOCKING UP
JAPANESE-CANADIANS, TAKING AWARE
THEIR PROPERTY DURING THE WAR
SAME THING HAPPENED TO ITALIAN
CANADIANS AS WELL.
APPALING TREATMENT OF RAILWAY
WORKERS BUILDING THE RAILWAY.
THESE KINDS OF STORIES
EVENTUALLY GET OUT AND WE DEAL
WITH IT AS A COUNTRY.
THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS QUESTION
FOR ABORIGINAL OR INDIGENOUS
CANADIANS.
THERE ARE EFFORTS BEING
UNDERTAKEN TO DEAL WITH SOME
SORRIER CHAPTERS OF OUR HISTORY.
NOT THIS.
I HAVE HEARD PRECIOUS LITTLE
ABOUT THIS.
SO AGAIN, HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Past present?"

Constance says IT'S HARD TO
ORGANIZE A COMMUNITY TO DEMAND
REPARATIONS AND APOLOGY.
AND HATS OFF TO THE
JAPANESE-CANADIANS AND THE
CHINESE-CANADIANS ON THE HEAD
TAX AND THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE
WHO FOUGHT FOR RECOGNITION ABOUT
HOW HARMFUL THIS WAS.
THESE CASES INVOLVED A
REAL MIXTURE OF GIRLS -- YOUNG
TEENAGERS.
AND THEY DON'T HAVE A COMMUNITY.
THEY DON'T HAVE A BASE.
FOR WHICH TO ORGANIZE.
SO IT'S RATHER EXCEPTIONAL THAT
THEY DO.
VELMA, WHO IS ONE OF THE REALLY
WONDERFUL WOMEN, SHE CAME OUT OF
THAT HORRIBLE SITUATION INSPIRED
TO FIGHT BACK.
AND SHE HIRED A LAWYER AND SHE
TOOK THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT TO
COURT AND SHE GOT A SETTLEMENT
AND AN APOLOGY.
BUT A GAG ORDER WHICH IS WHAT
LAWYERS CALL IT WHEN THE
GOVERNMENT SETTLES WITH YOU BUT
THEY DON'T WANT IT MADE PUBLIC
IN CASE ANYBODY ELSE WOULD FIND
OUT AND SUE THEM.

Steve says SHOW SHE CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT.

Constance says SHE CAN'T TALK
ABOUT IT BUT SHE DOES SAY SHE'S
HAPPY WITH THE SETTLEMENT.

Steve says WHO APOLOGIZED TO HER?

Constance says THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT.
I AM NOT SURE WHO WAS THE
OFFICIAL.
BUT THEY DID IT ON OUR BEHALF.
I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE
ARE ON THE HOOK.
AS A SOCIETY.
ALL OF THE CITIZENS WHO WERE NOT
LOCKED UP.
WE'RE THE ONES WHO ARE
RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS TREATMENT.

Steve says SO THAT'S ONE
INDIVIDUAL APOLOGY TO ONE
INDIVIDUAL COMPLAINANT FOR
SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED MANY,
MANY YEARS AGO.

Constance says YES.

Steve says HAS THERE BEEN
ANYTHING BROADER OR MORE
OFFICIAL IN TERMS OF AN APOLOGY,
A RECOGNITION, A NEED TO DO
SOMETHING?
THAT YOU KNOW OF?

Constance says THE GRAND VIEW
GIRLS DID A GREAT JOB.
THEY FOUND ABOUT 200 OF
THEMSELVES TOGETHER.
THE STORY IS HORRIFIC.
TWO OF THE GIRLS WERE SEXUALLY
ABUSED BY THE -- THE
PSYCHOLOGIST WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO
BE TREATING THEM.
HE WOULD CALL THEM INTO HIS
OFFICE AND PRETEND TO PUT THEM
UNDER HYPNOSIS AND THEN HE WOULD
MAKE THEM PERFORM ORAL SEX ON HIM.
AND THEY -- A COUPLE OF THEM
GREW UP.
THEY HAD ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS,
AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, FROM THAT
KIND OF TREATMENT.
AND THEY WENT TO SEE A THERAPIST
WHO GOT THEM -- WITH THEIR
PERMISSION -- IN TOUCH WITH EACH
OTHER.
AND A GROUP BEGAN TO GROW.
AS THEY DISCOVERED HE HAD BEEN
THROUGH DOZENS AND DOZENS AND
DOZENS OF THE YOUNG WOMEN WHO
WERE LOCKED IN.

Steve says DID THEY GET HIM EVENTUALLY?

Constance says THEY CHARGED HIM
CRIMINALLY AND HE WAS NOT
CONVICTED.
WHICH IS ANOTHER VERY
INTERESTING STORY IN TERMS OF
HOW CRIMINAL LAW DOES NOT
RESPOND WELL TO THESE OLD FORMS
OF ABUSE.
BUT THE GIRLS SAID, “WE NEED A
LAWYER” AND SO THEY INTERVIEW
ADD WHOLE SERIES OF LAWYERS THEY
SET THEMSELVES UP WITH A
COMMITTEE.
A STEERING COMMITTEE THAT
REPRESENTED THEM.
AND OVER 200 OF THEM HIRED A
WOMAN THAT WENT ON TO BECOME ONE
OF THE BEST SEXUAL ABUSE
LITIGATORS IN THE COUNTRY.
AND SHE SECURED AN AGREEMENT
WITH THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT THAT
EACH ONE OF THEM WOULD GET A
HEARING FOR A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF
COMPENSATION.

Steve says DO WE KNOW HER NAME?

Constance says SUSAN VELLA AND
SHE DESERVES SERIOUS KUDOS FOR
THE WORK SHE DID ON THAT CASE.
THEY WERE NOT AN EASY GROUP OF
CLAIMANTS AS YOU CAN
IMAGINE.
SHE WAS ABLE TO CONVINCE THEM
THAT SHE WOULD HANDLE THEIR CASE
FAIRLY AND SHE DID.

Steve says THE MERCER INSTITUTION
IS GONE.
THESE OTHER PLACES, THESE
REFUGES FOR THESE INCORNELLABLE
WOMEN -- IN INVERTED COMMAS --
ARE GONE.
THE BUILDINGS MAY BE THERE BUT
THEY ARE NOT USED FOR THOSE
PURPOSES ANYMORE.
THE QUESTION IS IT'S HISTORY.
AS WE LOOK BACK AT HISTORY DO
YOU THINK WE'VE LEARNED FROM
THIS PRACTICE?

Constance says I NEED ONLY ONE
ILLUSTRATION TO SHOW THAT WE HAVEN'T.
THE CASE OF ASHLEY SMITH WHICH
IS IN THE MEDIA ALL THE TIME NOW.
SHE THREW CRAB APPLES AT A
POSTAL CARRIER.
THAT WAS HER FIRST MISDEED THAT
BROUGHT HER TO THE ATTENTION OF
THE AUTHORITIES AND BEFORE YOU
KNEW IT SHE WAS INTO JAIL.
INTO SEGREGATION.
INTO BEING HELD WITH SORT OF
STRAITJACKETS AND BASICALLY
TORTURED, I WOULD SAY.
THROUGH SEGREGATION IN PRISON.
AND SHE FINALLY COMMITTED SUICIDE.

Steve says RIGHT AND THERE IS AN
INQUEST INTO HER SITUATION.

Constance says DOES THAT NOT
SOUND A LITTLE BIT LIKE VELMA?
THERE IS A WOMAN THAT FOUGHT
BACK BUT SHE FOUGHT BACK AGAINST
HERSELF NOT AGAINST THE SYSTEM.
AND IT'S NOT SURPRISING.
AND THERE'S ONE EXAMPLE.
AND WE DON'T HAVE -- I KEEP
SAYING TO MY YOUNG LAW STUDENTS
WHERE ARE THE LAWYERS WHO
REPRESENT PEOPLE IN JAIL?
WHY ISN'T THERE LEGAL AID
PROGRAMS TO ASSIST EVERY SINGLE
PERSON THAT WE LOCK UP TO BE
SURE THAT THEY'RE SAFE IN THERE
AND THAT WE'RE FOLLOWING RULES
FOR THEIR PROTECTION NOT FOR
THEIR ABUSE.
IT'S JUST -- IT'S AS BAD AS THE
19TH CENTURY TODAY.

Steve says SAY THAT AGAIN.

Constance says IT IS AS BAD TODAY
AS IT WAS IN THE 19TH CENTURY.
WE ARE AS RESPONSIBLE AS IF WE
LIVED BACK IN THE ERA OF THE
FEMALE REFUGES ACT.

Steve says REALLY?

Constance says I THINK SO.

Steve says WE'RE DOING TO PEOPLE
IN PRISON TODAY WHAT THEY DID TO
THEM 50 YEARS TAY GO IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

Constance says DO YOU KNOW HOW
MANY PEOPLE GO THROUGH
SEGREGATION IN PRISON THESE DAYS?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT SEGREGATION DOES?
IT MAKES PEOPLE INSANE.
HOW CAN WE BE DOING THAT?
IN THE NAME OF CORRECTION AND IN
THE NAME OF REHABILITATION, HOW
CAN WE POSSIBLY COUNTENANCE THAT?

Steve says BUT WE DON'T HAVE
ANYTHING ON THE BOOKS TODAY THAT
WOULD BE AS ANACRONISTIC AS THE
FEMALE REFUGES ACT.

Constance says WE SHOULDN'T BE
LOCKING PEOPLE UP FOR THROWING
CRAB APPLES AT POSTAL PEOPLE
SHOULD WE?
WHAT I AM SAYING IS THERE ARE
ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE WHO SHOULD
NOT BE DETAINED AT ALL IN OUR
JAILS.
AND ONCE THEY GO INTO OUR JAILS
THAT MAKES THEM WORSE.

Steve says YOU KNOW, IT'S AN AREA
FOR GREAT DEBATE.
CONRAD BLACK WAS IN THAT CHAIR
NOT TOO LONG AGO SAYING IT WAS
KIND OF POINTLESS TO PUT HIM IN
JAIL HE DIDN'T KILL ANYONE AFTER
ALL WOULD YOU AGREE?

Constance says I DON'T THINK
ANYBODY SHOULD BE GOING TO JAIL.
I THINK THERE SHOULD BE
PREVENTED DETENTION FOR PEOPLE
AT RISK OF COMMITTING VIOLENCE
BUT I AM ACTUALLY AGAINST PRISON.
I DON'T THINK WE KNEE HOW TO
CONSTRUCT A PRISON THAT IS
REHABILITATIVE.
SO IT'S JUST DANGEROUS WHEN WE DO IT.
BUT HOW GREAT THAT CONRAD BLACK
IS ON OUR SIDE!
I WISH HE WOULD PUT SOME OF HIS
ENERGY AND ACTIVISM INTO
LOBBYING FOR MORE PRISONERS' RIGHTS.

Steve says I THINK HE HAS, ACTUALLY.
I THINK HE'S WRITTEN SOME STUFF
FOR THE NATIONAL POST ABOUT
PRISON REFORM THAT WE WOULD LIKE
TO SEE TAKE PLACE.

Constance says WE COULD USE HIM FULL-TIME.

The caption changes to "The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Weeknights at 8 on TVO and theagenda.tvo.org"

Steve says WILL PUT YOU TWO IN TOUCH.
CONSTANCE BACKHOUSE, IT'S GOOD
OF YOU TO VISIT FROM THE
UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Constance says THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST.

Watch: Constance Backhouse: Ontario's Dark Reformatory Past