Television shows like Prison Break tend to glamorize prison life. Yes, they show the violence, but they tend to make the characters more sympathetic--some of them. And we often forget why they are there.

In real life, this can happen as well. Some prison rules allow for many of the same comforts we have at home. And there is a lot of controversy around this. How much do prisoners deserve these creature comforts? What rights do they have?

Matsqui prison, located in Abbotsford, BC, went into lockdown today. Apparently, a woman with a baby stroller tried to pass through security, but the stroller tested positive for cocaine and guards stopped her. AOL News reports that the woman was allowed to continue with her visit but that she was reported to the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

So the inmates retaliated.

170 inmates set fires in the yard and refused to return to their cells. Why? Because they think their privacy is not being respected. They believe they deserve privacy.

Reading this reminds me of a similar situation in which guards set fires at Mastqui. In fact, I used the situation fictitiously in Whale Song. For those of you who've read my novel, you'll recall there is a scene where a fire breaks out at Matsqui and prisoners had to be airlifted off a roof. It happened back in the 80's.

Reading today's Globe and Mail story, made me think of 2 things: Whale Song and the fact that these inmates should count themselves lucky they get to have visitors. Or time out in the yard in the fresh air and sunshine. These people have been convicted of crimes. They are paying for their crimes in a locked facility. That's what they deserve, and they are lucky that they are still alive and being fed, clothed and sheltered.

What I find even more disgusting is that the guards were able to find traces of cocaine on a baby stroller. What the--? Any mother who would use her child as a drug mule needs a good smack in the head...and her kids should be taken away.

Read the Matsqui story on Globe and Mail.

Read the Matsqui post on AOL News.

If you pick up Whale Song, you can read about the earlier fire in Matsqui prison. Some is truth and some is fiction. :)

And please feel free to leave a comment about this story. Do prison inmates deserve to have privacy? Was this a fair call by the guards?

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

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I think privacy should be at the top of the pyramid of rewards earned by adult prisoners, and only extended once that prisoner is on short-time and headed for release. I have worked as a volunteer inside a juvenile facility and seen the angelic faces of murders who couldn't yet shave. Incarcerated children must never be unobserved. They represent an all-you-can-eat buffet of prey for preditors (inmates and guardians alike).

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