Saving the prison farms: It's time for civil disobedience

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For more than 150 years, prisoners have had the chance to work on farms inside the prison system.

In February 2009, it was revealed that the Harper government was planning to shut down this longstanding program.

Once the word got out, a wave of opposition from across the country organized to defend the farms. People could not understand why the prison was closing, what they saw as an innovative, sustainable and effective program.

Even as the government carries forth with their plans, people are continuing to fight to keep the farms running. And some of them are using civil disobedience to get their message across.

Dianne Dowling is one of those people. She is an organic dairy farmer living near Kingston Ontario. She is also the President of local 316 of the National Farmers Union in Ontario. Not far from her is the Frontenac prison farm, one of the largest urban farms in Canada. 

Stark Raven spoke to Diane about the fight to save the prison farms and plans for civil disobedience.


**August 9th update (interview recorded on August 2nd)**

Yesterday and today hundreds of people blocking the removal of cattle from one of the last prison farms that is being shut down by the government.

The large protest was happening at Frontenac Institution prison in Kingston, Ont, the location of one of the six prison farms.

On August 9th, more than 150 police officers faced off against several hundred protesters at the entrance to the Frontenac prison in Kingston.

The protesters were attempting to prevent several trucks from picking up the dairy herd and ship them off for auction.

Despite being asked to move by police, protestors stood their ground and were not willing to compromise.

Eighteen people have been arrested since yesterday morning, including an 87-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl.

The Correctional Service of Canada is set to auction off the remaining prison livestock tomorrow, which is ironically national Prison Justice Day.

The Save our Prison Farms coalition is calling on people to call the Ontario Livestock Exchange to encourage the auctioneer to forgo any involvement in the auction. They are asking people to call the Livestock exchange at 1-800-265-8818 or email [email protected] and leave a message.  For more info check their website at

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