When will we ever learn?

Not only is solitary confinement in our federal prisons and provincial jails “a broken and dangerous system”, no matter how the practice is labeled, the policies, safeguards, and restrictions put in place are neither followed nor enforced with any consistency. Management has no option but to deny irregularities are common, and no authoritative body exists to which recourse is available.
The letter to Julia Payson of B.C.’s John Howard Society was also sent to Carmen Cheung, Senior Counsel, at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association which is the other party to this lawsuit.
The British Columbia action has been filed with the B.C. Supreme Court. A few days later, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in partnership with the Elizabeth Fry Societies petitioned the Ontario Superior Court, challenging the constitutionality of isolation.
The letter to Jason Tamming is one of those delightful tasks that make life worthwhile

January 27, 2015

Julia Payson, Executive Director B. C.,
John Howard Society of B. C.,
763 Kingsway,
Vancouver, BC V5V 3C2

Re: Rights groups sue Ottawa over solitary confinement
Globe and Mail, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dear Ms. Payson:
Sunny Dhillon and Patrick White’s Globe article begins with, “two rights groups have sued the federal government over the use of solitary confinement in prisons, arguing Canada remains committed to a broken and dangerous system that increases inmates’ suffering even as jurisdictions around the world scale back its use.”
The Toronto Star editorial on Monday, January 26 calls your lawsuit “welcome news”, and opines that, “it’s not as if Canada doesn’t know better.”
Thank you, and the B. C. Civil Liberties Association, for taking an action you wouldn’t have to if our public servants weren’t so hell bent on being on the wrong side of right.
Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc turnoverarocktoday.com

January 27, 2015

Jason Tamming, Press Secretary to Steven Blaney,
Ministry of Public Safety,
Ste. 306, Justice Building,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Rights groups sue Ottawa over solitary confinement.
Globe and Mail, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mr. Tamming:
You’ve got to be kidding! The Canadian government is “taking action to keep our streets and communities safe.” “[Correctional Service Canada] uses all of its tools to make sure the corrections system actually corrects criminal behaviour, including the use of segregation.” Now really, only the uninformed would believe you, and only the mean-spirited would want to believe you.
As the Toronto Star’s editorial on Monday, January 26, pointed out when it called this lawsuit “welcome news”, “it’s not as if Canada doesn’t know better.”
The minister for whom you work and the government he represents are so hell bent on being on the wrong side of right, they make no effort to hide their position as anything more than pandering to a particular voter base.
Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc turnoverarocktoday.com

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Ontario’s Provincial Jails – A Comment

January 26, 2015

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor,
George Drew Building,
25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Minister Naqvi:
I’ve been following the Toronto Star’s Amy Dempsey’s work over the last number of weeks on the use of segregation in Ontario’s jails, and in particular at the new Toronto South Detention Centre. The one persistent question I would have in your position as this sorry tale unfolds is, how is it possible that this could be allowed to happen? But then, I’m able to see from your ministry’s response to the media that comments such as the health of inmates and staff is a “top priority”, or that inmates continue to receive the medical care they require in population or in segregation, is only fodder for public consumption.
If you were genuinely concerned about jail operations, you might imitate television’s “Undercover Boss”. I doubt though you’d find one person in your professional circle who would recommend this course. You’d have to be a very courageous politician to take that step.
The federal prison system is one of my specialty areas of activism and advocacy, but I was persuaded to look at Ontario’s provincial jails over a number of months in 2008 and 2009. What I found led me to write a series of questions “To Ontario’s Provincial Jail Superintendents”, a copy of which I’ve attached.
I suspect not a whole lot has changed over the years.
Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc turnoverarocktoday.com

The Attachment

July, 2009
TO ONTARIO’S PROVINCIAL JAIL SUPERINTENDENTS
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN BEATEN BY GUARDS IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN INTENTIONALLY PUT IN SITUATIONS WHERE THEY WILL BE BEATEN BY OTHER INMATES IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN VERBALLY OR PHYSICALLY HARASSED WITH REMARKS BY STAFF, SUCH AS, “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING INMATES”, “I HATE INMATES”, “WHO DO I OWE A BEATING TO TODAY”, OR BACKHANDED/SLAPPED BY STAFF, IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO IMPLIED OR OVERT RACIAL SLURS, OR SINGLED OUT FOR HARSH TREATMENT BECAUSE OF RACE, IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN DENIED A SHOWER AND A HOT MEAL ON COURT DAYS IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF CLOTHING AND/OR FOOD AND/OR BEDDING AND/OR HYGIENE PRODUCTS, OR PLACED IN SEGREGATION FOR NO SPECIFIED OR VERIFIABLE REASON, IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN THE THIRD OR FOURTH OCCUPANT IN A CELL IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE HAD THEIR CANTEEN ORDERS DESTROYED BY STAFF IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN DENIED THE USE OF A TELEPHONE, PREVENTED FROM CONTACTING THEIR LAWYERS, OR THE ONTARIO OMBUDSMAN, IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF PAPER AND/OR PENCILS TO PREVENT THE FILING OF INSTITUTIONAL FORMS SUCH AS AN “INMATE STATEMENT FORM” IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE BEEN DENIED PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS OR MEDICAL ATTENTION OR TOLD THAT MEDICATION IS A PRIVILEGE AND NOT A RIGHT IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INFRACTIONS OF POLICY, PROCEDURE AND THE LAW HAVE JAIL CHAPLAINS WITNESSED IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK, BUT CAN’T DO THEIR WORK UNLESS THEY KEEP THEIR EYES, THEIR EARS, AND THEIR MOUTHS SHUT?
HAVE JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS EACH HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORSHIP IN COMMUNITY IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY INMATES HAVE RECEIVED “PACKAGES” THROUGH THE COLLABORATION OF JAIL STAFF IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MANY STAFF MEMBERS ARE NOT WEARING A CORRECTIONAL SERVICE ISSUED IDENTIFICATION TAG WHILE ON DUTY, OR WEARING A CORRECTIONAL SERVICE ISSUED IDENTIFICATION TAG IMPROPERLY, IN YOUR INSTITUTION THIS WEEK?
HOW MAY LOCKDOWNS HAVE OCCURRED IN YOUR INSTITUTION IN THE LAST MONTH BECAUSE OF STAFF SHORTAGES OR EXTENDED STAFF BREAKS, AND HOW MANY VISIT DAYS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE OF STAFF SHORTAGES, PARTICULARLY ON WEEKENDS?
WHY AREN’T RECORDS KEPT OF LOCKDOWNS AND CANCELLED VISITS IN YOUR INSTITUTIONS?

Gotta minute?

Of about 24 million registered electors in the country for the last federal election on May 2 in 2011, just under 15 million turned out to vote (61.4%), and slightly less than 40% of those, or about 5.9 million persons, voted for the present government in Ottawa. That equates to about 25% of registered electors! In other words, our government was elected with the votes of one in four….the other three either didn’t vote or cast a ballot against the government.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill from his speech to the Canadian Parliament on December 30 in 1941, that’s some majority! Some mandate!

Update – The First

Brennan Guigue was given a status report in a January 6th teleconference with his Montreal lawyer with respect to requests made of Correctional Service Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Division, as specified in the November 2, 2014 posting in this file.
A November 28 letter from CSC’s Access Division to the lawyer indicated the approximate time to research the materials requested would be five hours, and an estimated cost for the service was quoted. A 50% minimum payment was due in advance. That has been made and a confirmation has been received by the lawyer.
Once the research is initiated, the lawyer’s experience with the process tells him several people will be assigned to look at one file at a time, moving on until the work is completed. There are additional costs per page for photocopies over a specified number, although it seems there is no charge for copies of video information.
The lawyer believes this could take as little as one month which complies with provisions of the Act, although delays should be expected.
This exchange between the lawyer and CSC’s Access Division should in no way suggest that Correctional Service Canada is cooperating fully and openly to provide what details are necessary to prove the case against them. Let’s just say this is the top of the first inning, and CSC now knows Brennan Guigue is serious in his intention to pursue this action.
The balance of the conversation between Brennan and his lawyer dealt with accumulating costs and a summary of expenses to date.