Hallelujah III!

A letter went to Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti back in the second week of July, commenting on conditions in Ontario’s jails that have been ongoing since the last century ….maybe longer. This letter was sparked by Health Minister Eric Hoskins’ use of an executive order in his ministry to override bureaucratic objections to a program he felt benefited Ontario, and he put it into play under his own authority. Would Minister Orazietti consider such a move to avoid protracted delays and initiate progressive measures at CSCS?

July 12, 2016

The Honourable David Orazietti,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
25 Grosvenor Street, 18th Floor,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Dear Minister Orazietti:

You are the latest in a long line of CSCS ministers during my almost thirty years of observing Ontario’s jails.

Liberal, Conservative, or New Democrat, all have overseen a system rife with continuing, and for the most part ignored, human rights violations and operational issues. Our courts have remedied specific complaints from time to time, like the recent award to two Maplehurst inmates, but a fundamental reboot of this ministry branch hasn’t materialized.

Yasir Naqvi, your predecessor, began a review of segregation policies, and addressed staffing concerns that lead to rampant lockdowns, the two current “flavours of the month.” Unfortunately, the policy process Mr. Naqvi initiated may meander through a bureaucratic maze for months with minimal or no progressive results. Dr. Eric Hoskins’ refreshing ‘executive order’ to begin distributing naxolone kits to at risk newly released inmates is an option you also have in your arsenal to effect changes with segregation and SHU policies.

Staff shortages continue to drive almost daily lockdowns in some institutions, but are not always related to too few guards, albeit that contributes to the problem. CSCS is now engaged in a recruitment/hiring blitz, assuming that will resolve a long-standing complaint from OPSEU. However, tucked away almost out of sight, is the matter of the number of uniformed staff who do not report for scheduled shifts, making lockdowns/partial lockdowns unavoidable.

An analysis of absenteeism might prove enlightening.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General

‘Courageous’ actions by politicians are rare. They are, after all, politically risky. We got what we expected from Mr. Orazietti.

And now, along has come the ‘lockdowns’ class-actions which will challenge the government to pay up, and put up, in that order. There is no short-cut or easy path to reform. After all, your governments have plenty of your tax dollars, and influence, to waylay the crusaders, “kettle” the troops in the rain ‘til the armour rusts, and all the while argue the kingdom is orderly and nothing is amiss, nothing is amiss, nothing is amiss, nothing………!

Remember too, experience tells us that just because a court supports a claim and orders restitution and action for fairness in policy doesn’t guarantee the expected and anticipated outcome. Only the vigilance of the people will have an impact.

To that end, we wanted to be heard again.

September 13, 2016

The Honourable David Orazietti,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
25 Grosvenor Street, 18th Floor,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Re: Class-Actions

Dear Minister Orazietti:

Regrettably, you didn’t respond to my July 12th letter. Your silence could be construed as backing the status quo. My staff absenteeism in provincial jails comment, and research through information access requests indicates this is a contributing factor to the rampant lockdowns leading to the three class actions against Ontario’s government.

The suits are a start in support of reform, accountability, and transparency, although your senior bureaucrats no doubt will disagree. But then, I don’t expect otherwise when conditions in the provincial jails have been as they are for so long, and tolerated by public servants in a position to right what is so obviously wrong.

It isn’t only the tyranny of lockdowns that discredit CSCS. These institutions can be taken to task for a number of infringements of civilized and professional conduct that society at large wouldn’t accept. From the vagaries of health care, through failures to follow prescribed procedures and policies, to the malfeasance of authority to act on violations of operational practices, there is tinder enough to fuel more legal actions. To boot, inmates have no substantive recourse for redress outside the courts. Only the want of private will and resources saves the government from telling embarrassments.

You’re not responsible for this, but you are today’s CSCS point person. I am but one of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of aware Ontarians…….waiting, waiting, waiting.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

copied to:
Kathleen Wynne, Premier, Province of Ontario
Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, Province of Ontario
Matthew Torigian, Deputy Minister, Community Safety & Correctional Services,
Margaret Welch, Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety & Correctional Services
Rohan Thompson, Chief of Oversight & Investigation, MCSCS
Christina Danylchenko, Assistant Deputy Minister, Institutional Services, MCSCS
Nancy Sanders, Assistant Deputy Minister, Operational Support, MCSCS
Paul Dubé, Ombudsman, Province of Ontario
Amy Dempsey, The Toronto Star
Patrick White, The Globe and Mail



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