Hellhole, you say.

“Riots. Stabbings. Beatings. Lockdowns. THE $1-BILLION HELLHOLE.”

This is from the cover of the March issue of Toronto Life magazine, printed over a photo of the Toronto South Detention Centre, which “was supposed to be a state-of-the-art superjail. Instead, it’s a total disaster.”

Raizel Robin, a Toronto freelance writer/journalist with a long list of wide-ranging writing credits, conducted over 50 interviews preparing this story. She made attempts to meet and speak with Brennan Guigue, an inmate in Toronto South at the time, but was blocked by the institution’s visiting policies, and the head of security. Nonetheless, he was able to get some of his written material to her which is included in her research.

On the morning of Thursday, February 16, the day before the magazine issue was on the newsstands, Raizel guested on CBC radio’s Metro Morning, hosted by Matt Galloway out of Toronto. At one point, she said that Toronto South inmates were so often locked down for long periods that the men don’t know just when they would be let out. When Matt asked what that must be like, Raziel referred to an inmate who had told her to imagine being locked in your bathroom for 24 hours. That relevant analogy came from Brennan Guigue.

CBC asked Community Safety & Correctional Services for a comment on the Toronto Life story. The most current minister, Marie-France Lalonde, came back with a long and old toe-the-CSCS-line-policy-statement that means nothing at all…..but says everything.

A letter had gone to the new minister soon after her appointment:-

January 20, 2017

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

Dear Minister:

You are a brave politician to take on CSCS at a point when the ministry is coming under increased scrutiny and facing several legal challenges. And so it should. I’ve been nipping at its heels for twenty-five years.

I have two suggestions.

The bureaucrats who people 25 Grosvenor will go a long way to keep you occupied and away from the many closets in the agency. Lord forbid that you should peek inside any one of them.

When presented with a stack of files for your attention, start at the bottom. That’s where the good stuff is hidden.

In hopes that this note actually ends up on your desk, I am,

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

Guess we didn’t make an impression.

Not willing to leave it be, another short letter went to the minister on February 22. The body is reprinted here:-

Re: The $1-Billion Hellhole

Dear Minister:

I can’t believe the response you and your ministry gave to Matt Galloway of CBC’s Metro Morning when he asked for a reaction to the March Toronto Life cover story on the Toronto South Detention Centre.

Raizel Robin had much more material than she needed or used in the article. I know, because I was one of her contributors. There are thousands, even tens of thousands of people in this province who are better informed than you appear to be.

Looks like you didn’t take the advice in my January 20th letter.

As it is now, it seems you’ve only taken a few weeks on the job to go over to ‘the dark side.’

Yours truly,

God grant the legal actions against the government will cost Ontario millions….will cost you millions.

“The $1-Billion Hellhole” is available on-line at http://www.torontolife.ca.

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