In one of Alberta’s most high-profile prison reform trials, veteran jurist Nicholas Mitchell said that finding solutions to oppressive prison conditions, including uncomfortable toilet facilities, was his “number two” priority after cracking down on prison murder rates.
Justice Mitchell ruled that $3 million in provincial spending be earmarked for installing Cottonelle Ultra two-ply toilet paper into Alberta’s prisons by 2010.
“We’re talking about a segment of society that needs the soft touch of Cottonelle more than any other,” he said, referring to the notoriously high rates of man-on-man gang rape in prisons.
With thousands of preventable rashes caused by scratchy one-ply tissue, the former practice of using cheap toilet paper was ruled to be a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners.
After being inundated by letters from inmates describing their epidermal woes in gruesome detail, Premier Ed Stelmach and the Legislature approved the measure to purchase 790,000 rolls of unrecycled, bleached toilet paper for each correctional facility.
The ruling was shrouded in controversy. The most vociferous critiques have been from environmental groups, who have called the ruling irresponsible and misguided.
“This is outrageous!” exclaimed Christy Ferguson, Greenpeace forest campaigner. Greenpeace activists have recently been targeting tissue giant Kimberly-Clark in their campaigns, resulting in dozens of arrests.
But provincial spokeswoman Janet Stittsman said the critics misunderstood the measure. “Some prisoners can barely walk after showering, with their anuses so sore and their assholes so irritated.”
Cottonelle’s promise to provide customers with “the ultimate in comfort with every roll” is expected to result in immediate improvements in the human rights conditions of prisons throughout the province.
With the help of Premier Stelmach’s office and provincial legislators, Stittsman said, “We plan to make Alberta a national model for prison bum care.”