I don't know how many people have followed this story, but my sense is that it's one that has travelled under the radar. That is a shame because it is precisely this kind of whittling away of good policy that is going unnoticed.
I happened to see a Committee meeting on this issue and was astounded to see witness after witness speak to the efficacy of the program while the government ignored every single fact presented. They fell to their manufactured line, that agriculture is not a marketable profession.
That of course is not the intent of the program, though surely some prisoners upon release may choose to work on a farm.
There was a former participant who testified that day and who has been a good member of society for 19 years now. He is not working in that field, but he spoke to the benefits of the program in terms of developing a sense of team work, routine, responsibility, etc.
The government is making a big mistake here in my opinion and I can only put it down to ideology. Rehabilitation isn't their primary focus, which is ridiculous on it's face, but rather appearing to look 'tough' on crime drives everything.
By way of comparison, take a look at what they are doing in Australia.
This isn't the only area where the Conservatives have ignored the facts of course. We all know that crime is going down, but they say it isn't. The police want to maintain the gun registry, the Conservatives say that is not the case. The list goes on.
Sadly, bad policy makes for good optics for this government and the country is poorer for it.