Friday, January 14, 2005

Inmates at Canadian Prisons Donating to Tsunami Relief

From Reuters via Yahoo!News:

TORONTO (Reuters) - The tsunami disaster in South Asia has sparked widespread generosity in Canada, even among the nation's most hardened criminals, federal prison officials said on Wednesday.

Fourteen prisons across the country have raised money from their inmate populations to support relief efforts by the Red Cross and other aid organizations.

Although the C$4,200 ($3,500) gathered to date is low compared with some multimillion-dollar donations, it is still an incredible effort for prisoners who have little in the way of income, said Diane Russon, a spokeswoman for Correctional Services of Canada.

"Regardless of the amount, the idea that they're actually caring about (someone) other than themselves, and making the effort and the donation, is pretty remarkable," she said.

At the Mission Institution in British Columbia, 103 inmates, serving two years or more, raised C$2,011, said assistant warden Diane Mousouliotis.

Inmates signed a pledge form for amounts ranging from C$5 to C$400 to be debited from their work program accounts.

"It was the initiative of one of the inmates," said Mousouliotis, "and seeing the tragedy that had happened, they wanted to contribute in some way. They rallied to it."

A member of the prison staff rushed the check to the local Red Cross office to make sure it arrived before Tuesday's deadline for the Canadian government's pledge to match private donations, dollar for dollar.

Russon said inmates can earn up to C$6.90 a day in work programs for jobs such as kitchen duties or furniture making.