Saturday, October 10, 2009

Federal Prisoners Go To Court For Right To Smoke

They Would Have Won in J Ly's Kangaroo Court

The Globe reports that inmates in Quebec are going to Federal Court with a human rights lawyer in tow to fight for their rights. They are fighting the tobacco ban in federal prisons.

Their lawyer has some thoughts worth throwing away like:

Julius Grey, a Montreal constitutional lawyer, says the ban violates inmates' charter rights and is discriminatory because guards can still smoke outside.

“Smoking is so politically incorrect that people forget how important it is in the lives of some people,” Mr. Grey, a non-smoker, said yesterday.

Canadian prisoners don't lose rights other than those tied directly to their imprisonment, he said.

“The right to smoke is not an absolute right, but it is a life choice, and it is a significant life choice to some individuals,” he said.

I didn't know that smoking was a charter right. Breathing clean air, not so much, I guess.

They have more than one lawyer working for them and the second one chimed in as well:

Lawyer Isabelle Turgeon is also representing the inmates, who are scattered throughout four different penitentiaries. She said the tobacco ban has exacerbated tensions in prisons. Guards taunt the inmates because staff can smoke outdoors in designated areas, she said.

“Most people think prisoners should all rot. But they're still human beings, they're not animals,” she said. “These are people who can be incarcerated for 20, 25 years. They lose their freedom, and on top of that, they can't smoke.”

Wow, they lose their freedom, and on top of that they can't smoke. I am touched, I tell you. Saddened to the bone. I think I will write my Congressman. Oops, wrong country. Maybe I'll write a letter to . . . No, I'll write a blog post.

I can't believe this sentence:

In a brief to the Federal Court, the inmates say their litany of woes caused by tobacco deprivation has, perversely, made them “greatly fear for their health.”

I am pretty sure that if they had gone to J Ly, they would have gotten the hearing they wanted, and probably even money for their pain and suffering. A real court might not have the sympathy they are trying to get. Certainly, the general public, and the families of those these hardened criminals have harmed over the years are not likely too sympathetic to their mournful pleas.

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