Were we really expecting something different?

For the week ahead of Correctional Service of Canada’s scheduled December 11 response to the 104 recommendations that came out of the 2013 inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, the Globe and Mail ran daily articles on the subject of solitary confinement in our federal prisons. In its 28 page response to the inquiry’s findings, CSC hardly did better than to acknowledge that there had been an inquiry and it was expected to say something……anything….but it wasn’t about to make any substantive changes.

December 15, 2014
David Walmsley, Editor-In-Chief,
The Globe and Mail,
444 Front Street West,
Toronto, ON M5V 2S9

Re: Solitary confinement in Canada’s federal prisons

Dear Mr. Walmsley:
I’m a Correctional Service of Canada “specialist”. I’ve spent more than twenty years in research and observation of this institution.

If I give ground to Steven Blaney and his staffers at Public Safety, or Don Head and others at CSC’s National Headquarters, it’s for their lack of accurate information of how federal prisons operate in the trenches where thousands of inmates and CSC employees live and work. But I surrender only a few millimetres because I’m convinced Mr. Blaney and Mr. Head, et al, would prefer not to know. It’s like the old Victorian adage, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.”

It doesn’t take much research/observation, or the expertise of the proverbial rocket scientist, to support my long-held view that Correctional Service of Canada is dishonest, abusive, morally and ethically corrupt, and a blot on the landscape of this country. So many have become frustrated with the organization’s absence of accountability and transparency, and its refusal to comply with the law, international treaties, best practices, and a plethora of calls for change. When I was recently given an opportunity to help underwrite a legal action against CSC on behalf of an inmate, I ran headlong to get involved.

Your recent series on the use of solitary confinement/administrative segregation in the federal prison system is a welcome insight into practices which are entirely unacceptable. You and all the contributors to this project are to be commended for making this effort to bring about change. Sadly, we see how intransigent some of our public servants can be. Strange, given the meaning of “servant” is not abstruse.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

cc Steven Blaney/Don Head/turnoverarocktoday.com

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