Feb. 28 is awareness day for overcrowded European prisons

NUPGE president James Clancy says Canadian correctional workers coping with similar issues


Prison Overcrowding Awareness EuropeOttawa (27 Feb. 2008) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), one of Canada's largest unions, is supporting a day of action on Feb. 28 to draw attention to the issue of overcrowding in prisons throughout the European Union.

In a message of solidarity to Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, general secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), NUPGE president James Clancy says Canadian correctional workers are dealing with many of the same issues that exist in European correctional facilities.

"This is an important and ambitious initiative and I wish you success in achieving your goals," Clancy writes.

"Overcrowding is also a significant problem in Canadian correctional facilities – federal and provincial. It is both a danger for our members who work in these facilities and a violation of the human rights of those incarcerated within them. I am pleased to see that your campaign attempts to connect the concerns of the workers to those of the inmates. This is indeed the appropriate manner for a trade union to approach these issues."

NUPGE represents correctional officers in most of Canada’s provincial correctional facilities. The EPSU includes 215 unions and eight million public sector workers.

Clancy asks Fischbach-Pyttel to keep NUPGE informed of ongoing developments.

The first European action day on Overcrowding in Prisons will take place in at least 10 EU national capital cities with the main event scheduled for Brussels.

Reasons for the initiative include the following:

  • Prisons in the EU are, on average, housing 25% more prisoners than their design capacity, putting massive strain on operational and security systems.
  • This creates serious health and safety implications (for staff and inmates).
  • Overcrowding in prisons is a breach of fundamental human rights.
  • Overcrowding, often related to underfunding or budget cuts, is being used as a justification for a private prison industry.

Key demands for improvement include a call for one detainee per cell, a minimum worker-detainee ratio of at least one to one, the right to work and live in a healthy and harmless environment and application of the European Convention on Human Rights and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. NUPGE

More information:
? EU Prison Overcrowding Day of Action - Feb. 28

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