POLICING – compelled to interject……..

Only three and a half months after “The POLICING file – Farewell & Good Luck?” on April 1st, the heat from recent events demands comment:-

NEPTUNE FOUR: In November of 2011, four black teenagers walking to an early evening program in their apartment complex, and armed with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms….and an attitude of entitlement to its protections, are confronted by two Toronto Police TAVIS (anti-violence) officers armed with protective vests, revolvers…..and their own attitude of empowerment. What ensued has been heavily covered in the media.
Now, at a June 19 police disciplinary tribunal hearing this year, Constable Scharnil Pais, one of the two officers accused of unlawful arrest that night so long ago, claims he was “scared” during the confrontation. His partner, Constable Adam Lourenco, did not testify.
“Scared” of what? “Scared” he’d get caught?
This is simply standard operating practice to vilify police victims.

SAMMY YATIM MURDER: Constable James Forcillo’s lawyers are seeking leave to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada on a technicality used by the Crown to gain an attempted murder conviction. Forcillo is currently in custody, serving his sentence. The application announced on July 10 is a long-shot but then, the police have a big purse….your deep pockets.
James Forcello should have been convicted of second-degree murder.

THE DEATH OF ORLANDO BROWN: A 32 year-old black man, Barrie resident Orlando Brown, was arrested early in the afternoon on June 22, and died in hospital later that day. There was an active non-violent domestic dispute warrant for his arrest, and he was arranging bail before turning himself into police. A paralegal who was to represent him viewed a passerby’s video of the arrest. He’s convinced “excessive and reckless violence was utilized.”
A cousin told Brown to surrender quickly, telling him, “The last thing I want to happen to you is that you walk in the streets and police kill you.”
The SIU is investigating. The family want to see the video of the police booking Mr. Brown.
A July 9 letter went to the Barrie police chief:-

Kimberley Greenwood, Chief,
Barrie Police Service,
Barrie, ON L4M 6K9

Re: The death of Orlando Brown

Dear Chief Greenwood:

No doubt you have men and women on your force who are proactively engaging the people of Barrie to build positive working relationships.

And then, as everywhere in policing, there are the ‘cowboys’, officers who don’t get that Orlando Brown’s tax dollars contributed to the cost of their training, paid for the uniforms they wear, and supplied the weapons used to kill him.

The SIU investigation cannot change the most compelling outcome of this event. This man did not have to die on June 22.

ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT ‘CARDING’?:- Believe it or not, Jennifer Evans is still the chief of the Peel Regional Police. The June 29th Globe and Mail published “Police chief slams crackdown on carding”, her rant on the pressure to end ‘street checks’ by police services in Western Canada.
This definitely needed attention, and a July 6 letter followed:-

Jennifer Evans, Chief, Peel Regional Police,
Mississauga, ON L5N 8M5

Re: Police chief slams crackdown on carding, Globe and Mail, Friday, June 29

Chief Evans:

“….because of abuse by the police.”

That’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s response during a press scrum outside the House of Commons in 1972 when asked why his government gutted the Criminal Code’s vagrancy law. Of the three sections in the legislation, three of the five subsections in section 1 were repealed, as was section 3. One tends to remember when the first minister of the Crown chose the accusatory language Mr. Trudeau knew would be widely reported.

Canada’s police services have creatively developed resources to circumvent the intent of those changes ever since.

Carding is one of the more odious.

If street checks are a warranted important investigative tool, why not push the envelope. Why not press for ultimate control, incarcerating every person, subject to release upon a proof satisfying your officers there’s no threat to good order.

Extreme, you say? How much less so is carding?

Let’s just call if for what it is.

Carding is code for police state.

Police chiefs in Edmonton and Vancouver were copied, along with Ontario’s premier, the mayors of Toronto and Missisauga, and the Toronto Police director of communications.

Enough. Now, let’s get back to the government sanctioned abuse in our federal prison system.


Sanctioned abuse……..

……..through political malpractice

So, the pay scale set up by Canada’s government in 1981 to help federal prison inmates cover the cost of what Correctional Service of Canada didn’t provide, to finance links with family and the community, and to give men and women in custody a head start on their release, hasn’t been adjusted from day one. Not even to accommodate inflation.

And, no one noticed. Right? No one at Correctional Service of Canada, or in succeeding governments over the years, Liberal or Conservative, thought about what a 1981 dollar bought in 1995, or in 2001, or in 2010….or today. Is that what we’re supposed to believe?

Of course not. The inmates noticed. They spoke about it often. They complained about it often. They made submissions often.

So did Howard Sapers. Referring to his 2002-2003 annual report when he was Canada’s Correctional Investigator, and under a section titled Inmate Financial Resources, he wrote…..

“As I have repeatedly indicated, adequate levels of inmate pay are important for two primary reasons:
(1) to combat the effects of the illicit underground economy that prevails in institutions where inmate funds are overly scarce, and
(2) to provide offenders with sufficient means on release to support their successful reintegration to the community.”

The Correctional Investigator went on to again make recommendations to resolve the increasing deficiencies with the compensation program.

The Correctional Service of Canada’s response to the CI:
“To address the complexities of the current pay system, CSC is examining all policies related to inmate monies, pay and the management of these funds. The study will address issues raised by the CI (Correctional Investigator), as well as those raised by the public. Stakeholders, including the OCI will be consulted.”

What happened? Nothing. The last posting here on June 24 referred to a 2006 report from that same OCI office targeting the same issue. It comes up year after year after year.

But wait. Isn’t what we read from CSC back in 2002-2003 typical bureaucratic double-speak anyway?

Nonetheless, Mr. Sapers went on to politely note all those years ago that:
“As to income pay in general, we the found the response (from Correctional Service of Canada) was vague as to timing and as to the specific offender problems that were the basis for our recommendation.”

Things were going to get a lot worse, we said.

It’s coming……

Political malpractice…….

……..leads to dubious policy and bad law.

So, you haven’t had a raise in ten years? How about not having a raise since 1981? How about not even having a cost-of-living increase? Worse, how about taking a pay cut?

Here’s one example of a suspect government program to guarantee the success of Canada’s prison industry.

Back in 1981, a parliamentary commission recommended a new pay scale for inmates in Canada’s federal prisons. It was based on the minimum wage at the time, reduced by 85% for room and board and other costs to the prison system. Only a very few inmates received the top rate of $6.90 per day, based on the work available to them, while the average was about $3 per day.

This money was intended to pay for phone calls, help with family support, save in preparation for release, fund outside educational courses, assist with travel and food costs for family visits, purchase personal hygiene products and over the counter medicines, and supplement the 2600 calorie a day diet provided by the institutions…..as a start. It was also an incentive to learn money management.

The purpose of this pay program hasn’t changed since 1981 but the dynamics certainly have. With no increases in funding over the years, the Office of the Correctional Investigator commissioned a 2005-2006 report after noticing increased complaints underscoring the impact of inflation.

This report, released in 2006, determined that the cost of a basket of canteen items purchased in 1981 for $8.49 had grown to $61.49 by 2006! And, inmates were expected to budget with the same $3 a day average.

That was back in 2006, and thanks to Stephen Harper and his band of merry Neanderthals, matters were going to get a lot worse.

Stay tuned…….

All we are saying………

……is give change a chance.

Canadians know more about the rings around Saturn than they do about the country’s prison industry, and what they do know about our prison industry comes from the men and women who operate it. And, the men and women who operate our prison industry like it that way, want it that way, and work to keep it that way.

Imagine General Motors recalling millions of cars on one hand, while GM management touts the corporation’s success on the other. Where are the voices of the customers? How long would it take for the public to catch on that something is askew?

And yet, when it comes to jails, prisons, and the men and women housed in them, most people in the community accept the status quo is the best we can do.

To repeat from Baz Dreisinger’s “Incarceration Nation” in our February 25 posting “’Prison industry’ talking points”, when writing about prisons, “….if any other system had a 60 percent failure rate – that’s the U.S. recidivism rate, and in much of the world the numbers don’t look much better – we’d dismantle that system right away and go right back to the drawing board.”

So, just when will the service agencies in this country with “Correctional” in their names become ‘correctional’ services for all of us? Just when will we get that programming can be stacked to the ceilings, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into some measure of success? The statistics challenge the efficacy of what we do now. Just when will the voices of inmates, the ‘customers’ of our prisons and jails, be included in the conversation?

We endorse the progressive and restorative policies in some other jurisdictions that are rejected here so often as a matter of course. We frequently suggest that Correctional Service Canada’s management be replaced, and not by second-stringers already in the Service, but by outsiders where best practices make for lower recidivism and safer communities.

Don Head, the long-time commissioner of our federal prisons, and his team might work out in another government agency. How about the Conflict of Interest & Ethics Commissioner’s office?

This is but another reminder that reform is overdue, and the call for change must be kept on the front burner.


Soleiman Faqiri & burying the truth

The Toronto Star’s Tuesday, May 15 front page featured staff reporter Fatima Syed’s “Correctional ministry won’t release video of inmate’s last hours.” Ms Syed has been following the Faqari family’s patience and forbearance as it struggles for answers, for accountability, and for transparency. So far, it has nothing……only a grave to visit.

Soleiman Faqiri died at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay in December of 2016 after a three-hour confrontation with guards. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is keeping video of his last hours secret from the public and the man’s family.

We’ve previously published a few postings on this man’s death at the hands of provincial jail guards, the last on February 18, “Soleiman Faqiri-another comeback.”

MCCS cites section 65(6) of Ontario’s privacy law, which refers to labour relations. Experts in the field suggest the application of that section is ‘hokum’, in so many words, and is really a ploy to protect the identities of correctional officers who appear in the video.

Lawyers with a history of attempts to shake information out of MCCS claim secrecy is “part of the ministry’s MO”, as one put it. Another, familiar with privacy law, agrees the secrecy “is concerning because of vast potential to cover up serious misconduct in Ontario jails.”

May 24, 2018

Sam Erry, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services,
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Re: Soleiman Faqiri

Dear Deputy Minister Erry:

We know that Soleiman Faqiri was alive on the afternoon of December 15, 2016, at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.

We know that he was dead by the end of the day.

We know his only contact in his final hours was with an army of correctional officers.

We know he had 50 injuries to his body and asphyxia was the cause of death.

We know your ministry says it hasn’t any idea how all that happened.

We know Faqiri didn’t commit suicide.

We now know you’re hiding the video of his last hours from his family and the public.

We know your ministry’s refusal to ‘come clean’ stinks of obstruction.

We hope the settlement is painful.


Charles H. Klassen

Remember, these are our civil servants. Does your behind ache?

The law is the law…..

…well, it depends.

Roberto Osuna is a 23 year-old star pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays who was arrested by Toronto police on an assault charge early in May. He was held in a police cell during processing, and later released on his own recognizance.

Somehow, a photo of him sitting in that cell was released to the media. This is a serious breach of privacy, made all the more awkward because it’s almost a certainty that a member of the Toronto Police Service was responsible.

Police completed an investigation of this privacy violation by mid-May, know who the culprit is, but will only say the necessary disciplinary steps were taken, and no details will be released.

The same legislation that protects Roberto Osuna’s privacy also applies to Canada’s prisoners, albeit without any attending public empathy or charity.

In most American jurisdictions, who is in its prisons is sometimes even available on-line, and the identities of the men and women in custody are not shielded in any case without authorization.

Not so in Canada. No one can contact a provincial or federal institution and casually ask for inmate information. The agencies in charge of prisoners have well-defined protocols around privacy issues.

Paul Bernardo made a video appearance in a Napanee court near Kingston on Friday, April 13, charged with the possession of a weapon. A search of his cell on February 9 found a screw attached to the head of a pen.

Depending on several factors, Correctional Service of Canada used to option either institutional or criminal charges when a weapon was found in an inmate’s possession. Currently, it seems all weapon infractions lead to criminal charges.

Paul Bernardo is now aged 53 and stands almost a zero chance of parole, but he is entitled to have his application processed at intervals. That’s the policy. That’s the law.

Media outlets carried news of the charge on the same day he appeared in court. Now, weapons are found every week in our federal prisons, charges are laid every week, and inmates appear in court every week, and when charges are filed the information is in the public domain. But since anything to do with Bernardo is news, it’s likely someone made sure a media contact was directed to this latest story. Why? And, who? Is it just to ensure his chance of parole goes from zero to less than zero? There’s no suggestion this man deserves clemency, but two things stand out here.

As with other Bernardo information that has leaked out over the years, no one seems concerned about privacy issues, or how sources may have violated policy and the law. Is this excusable because of who he is? And, just where is the line drawn between when the law matters and when it doesn’t?

There’s a tangential but connected question that hasn’t been asked. Paul Bernardo is held in close confinement. He’s on a protective custody range, and other inmates there are locked up when Bernardo is out of his cell. Why then would he feel a need for protection?

The answer to that and other questions like it around safety should come from inmates and not Correctional Service of Canada spokespeople. What if, for example, the doors of other cells on that range ‘accidentally’ opened while Bernardo was outside his cell? The odds of that kind of slip are long but not out of the realm of possibility. But of course, no one wants to ask the men and women who have the best perspectives.

The point here with privacy legislation is how one law can give greater protection to one person than it does to another. Osuna and Bernardo may be at opposite ends of the social spectrum, but where along that line from one extreme to the other do subjective applications of the law become permissible?

As a footnote, Bernardo will appear in person in Napanee court on October 5 for trial.

What does it take……

………to persuade people to think?

CBC News’ Murray Brewster posted “Ottawa ditches mediation talks in $27 million Abdelrazik lawsuit” on April 17 on the network’s site.

Check out our “Omar Khadr….one last time?” from January 28. Abousfian Abdelrazik is one of the last remaining terror suspects suing Canada for wrongful detention.

As a quick review, Abdelrazik, a Sudanese-born Canadian citizen, went home for a family visit in 2003, was imprisoned there for a year, and then spent six more years waiting for Canada to allow him to return to Montreal.

He returned to Canada in 2009 only after our Federal Court ordered the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bring him home. Abdelrazik’s action against Canada personally names former Conservative foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon because he had refused to issue an emergency passport.

Federal lawyers approached Abdelrazik last September, asking if there was an interest in resolving the case, and the two sides met throughout the fall to set out the terms. Discussions progressed towards a mediation conference, scheduled to take place between February 28 and March 2.

But, government lawyers abruptly pulled out of the meeting, and a September 14 trial date is now set in Federal Court for the $27 million lawsuit.

“They said they could not provide us with any reasons,” said Paul Champ, Abdelrazik’s lawyer. “They were looking more at the polls than at their principles and, unfortunately, I think that’s probably why they withdrew.”

CBC was unable to get a response from CSIS, Justice or Public Safety. However, it appears the decision to withdraw one day before mediation was set to begin is a calculated political move, based on negative public blowback to other settlements, particularly the payment to Omar Khadr.

“It’s unfortunate this case wasn’t settled because – for the taxpayer – I think this is going to cost a lot more,” Paul Champ concluded.

May 4, 2018

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Abousfian Abdelrazik

Dear Minister Goodale:

Justice Department lawyers recently walked away from a scheduled mediation session to settle Mr. Abdelrazik’s action against Canada and former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon. CBC News was referred by Justice to Public Safety for comment, but your spokesperson declined as the question is ongoing.

I’m a Liberal Party supporter disappointed by a number of positions the government has taken that I see as contradicting the progressive policies that put it into office. This decision around Mr. Abdelrazik is but one example. The move to let this play out in court will cost us all more in the end, and looks to be a safe political option to deflect possible/probable public criticism of a pre-emptive settlement.

That public is ill-informed, and one might hope a government with the courage of its own convictions would put some effort into educating the naysayers. It’s a missed opportunity to build support for the difficult work you have chosen.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

Why don’t people get that we were in the wrong? Why don’t people get that we can settle now, or go to court, lose, and pay out “a lot more.”