On October 13 of last year, a week before the federal election, Correctional Service of Canada introduced its staff to 12 solitary confinement reforms, part of a response to the Ashley Smith coroner’s inquest two years ago. But, prison reform advocates say the changes do little to address numerous systemic flaws, and claim CSC has sidestepped the 104 recommendations made by the coroner’s jury.
Justin Trudeau issued a ministerial mandate letter a few weeks after becoming prime minister, calling for the implementation of all jury recommendations, specifically those concerning “solitary confinement and the treatment of inmates with mental illness.” In late December, public safety minister Ralph Goodale reiterated the government’s intention to go beyond CSC’s current reform policies.
There is a snag, however. Julian Falconer has said the current CSC leadership will stonewall any attempt to make substantive changes. A Google search justifies a description of Mr. Falconer as one of Canada’s top human rights lawyers. Jennifer Oates, former CSC Deputy Commissioner for Women, accuses CSC of having an inflexible attitude. Lisa Kerr, assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University, who specializes in prison law and sentencing, adds her voice to the criticism of the prison agency. These three are only part of a chorus of calls for major shifts in Canada’s federal penal system.
In spite of the CSC claim that the use of segregation/solitary confinement is in decline, Julian Falconer insists “they have an inbred cultural resistance to change”, and focuses his attention on current Commissioner Don Head. Long ago, we concluded Correctional Service of Canada is abusive, dishonest, morally and ethically corrupt, and a blot on the landscape of this country. A letter to Ralph Goodale puts in our two cents:
January 29, 2016
The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Re; “Federal prison agency makes changes to segregation policy”
Globe and Mail, Tuesday, December 22, 2015
“Inmate segregation in decline, CSC says”
Globe and Mail, Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Dear Minister Goodale:
“…..any political leadership that is looking to actually implement serious change would be wasting tax dollars if they put Mr. Head in charge of that change,” so said Julian Falconer in response to the present government’s intention to act on the Smith inquest recommendations.
CSC did not need Ashley Smith or Edward Snowshoe’s experience in segregation to tell it things were seriously amiss in our federal prison system.
CSC did not need Ashley Smith and Edward Snowshoe’s death to show it drastic changes were overdue.
CSC did not need an inquest’s recommendations to point it in the direction it was to take.
CSC has never needed any more than the will to act. This it does not have. This it will not have…….until the management team at 340 Laurier Avenue West is swept away in favour of enlightened, progressive revisionists.
Charles H. Klassen
cc Jody Wilson-Raybould,