..….at life inside the Toronto South Detention Centre
The purpose of these narratives is not to illicit any sympathy for the inmates being housed at this (and many others like it) facility, but instead to show the hypocrisy (as with any governmental ‘institution’) which permeates through this ‘environment’. What ‘they’ tell ‘you’ about the running of this place is a FAR CRY from the truth of what actually goes on.
This is mostly about the guards. The support staff trying to do good within these walls tend to be hobbled in their efforts by the Security Department and the bureaucracy which accompanies it. ‘Security’ has VETO powers on all things pertaining to inmates…..everything. From the fact that there is no real complaint/grievance process available to inmates all the way down to not being allowed to possess personal toothpaste while on disciplinary L.O.A.P. status in segregation. (Editor’s note: Although L.O.A.P. was ended by a MCSCS policy change as of October 16-17, 2016, it seems that not all guards got the memo.) Some of the rules change with every shift, many times the laying of a misconduct against an inmate depends on the guard working that day, and whether he/she likes or dislikes the inmate in question. There is no real consistency in it at all…..AND, the same applies to whether said inmate is sent to segregation.
I have seen – and experienced – guys who were sent to segregation for the most minor, barest of infractions, while others have remained on the Unit (albeit locked in their cell) after throwing violent temper tantrums, or having been found with large home-brews and various other forms of contraband in their possession/or cells.
The thing that most people in the community tend not to realize is that the guards who work here are human beings and so are not immune to the character flaws which are a trait to all.
There are all the same – but more so – faults among them such as laziness, revenge, vindictive personalities, holier-than-thou attitudes, jealousy, insecurity (many feel they must assert their authority out of a sense of inadequacy…..as proof of their manhood. The female staff do it to prove they measure up.)….anything you can think of. It exists among many (majority) of the guards here.
At times, I wonder if all of the unpopular, bullied, or picked-on kids from high school signed up to be guards. Then you’ve got the ‘wannabe’ cops with their….,’you’re-all-pieces-of-shit” attitudes, or the ex-military types who – in their robot-like ways – just fall into line with whatever they’re told.
Some break the law by smuggling drugs, denying basic human rights, and, in some cases, assaults on inmates (although that’s less frequent than in the past due to the installation of the many surveillance cameras throughout the building). Although there are ‘blind spots’….., just order the inmate to step to the back wall of the cell before you punch him in the face.
I see – and have been subjected to – the petty whims of guards who will routinely withhold an inmate’s food and showers….even toilet paper, for days at a time!
For those of you who may think….”so what, they’re a bunch of criminals anyway”, you’re forgetting that it’s not about them as I said. It’s about this being a “correctional” centre, touting top-of-the-line medical facilities, inmate recreational and rehabilitation programs. “So stay outta jail”……you say. Well, as much as we’d all like to live in such a society where there is no need of ‘jails’…..unfortunately such an utopia is unlikely to come ‘round any time soon.
So, in the meantime……send all of your criminals, mentally ill, emotionally scarred addicts, and whichever ‘undesirables’ society deems as ‘riff-raff’ into these so-called Correctional Centres to be mistreated and further damaged.
Truly….prison guards believe themselves to be of a special breed, guardians watching over the worst society has to offer. While in some cases (admittedly many) this may be true….in far too many cases one finds it hard to distinguish who is worse.
A few days ago, I saw three large men (175 lbs. plus) wrestling a little old man (couldn’t have been younger than 70), maybe 5’6”, 140-150 lbs. into a segregation cell. All the while pleading with them from the wheelchair and beyond….., “please stop, I just need my pills!” Believe what I say or not…., but it’s no exaggeration!
Or, what about the schizophrenic guy who was charged with obstruction of justice because when the cops stopped him, he gave the name of one of his alter egos instead of his real one (and who’s to say that – according to him – the name he gave wasn’t his real one?) He’s now being housed in a segregation cell two doors down from me…..should he be ridiculed and called a ‘cry baby’ simply because he spends most of his time crying and asking to “please be allowed to go home.” He’s been in that cell for 17 days….(24 on 24!).
As much as you’d like to scoff at these stories…., or suggest that they must be fabrications, or – at best – exaggerations, you’re only making assumptions…., they couldn’t possibly be true, could they? Couldn’t they?
Uh…..hellooo? The subjugation of the weak by the strong, the rich over the poor, is a human trait! No….? Pick up any history book…..or even your daily newspaper…, ‘get yur head outta yur ass and take an honest look around!’ What would you do if you saw an elderly man being manhandled by three much younger, larger, and stronger men on the street? Or, what would you feel if you saw a pathetic, mentally ill man or woman crying for help to “go home”?
Would you try to help that elderly man….., would you have sympathy for that desperate, crying person…?
So why should ANY rational HUMAN BEING feel any different because those ‘people’ exist in society’s waste baskets? And, do you think these injustices (those who live them and those who witness them), and inhumane practices make the people ‘coming out’ better or worse? Or how about from the opposite angle…., if you can agree that having a sense of humanity for all, sharing kindness with others, and doing charity can make a person feel better in life…., wouldn’t it stand to reason then that doing the opposite of those same things will invariably have a negative impact on a person’s outlook on the world, and themselves?
I’m not saying that guards/staff ‘round here need to pamper anyone, but – HOLY! – with some of the things I’ve witnessed and personally experienced….., one must wonder what effect some of the behaviours have on the practitioner.
Is it really possible to ‘turn off’ when at work, then ‘turn on’ at home….., how long before it takes a toll?
And, how are any of the ‘sufferers’ supposed to ‘keep their chin up’ when they’re constantly being beaten down?
There is NOTHING correcting about corrections!
Quote of the day……
“Strength lies unseen in many unexpected places; it merely awaits the right key to release it.”
Everything these people teach their children about right and wrong, good and bad…..truth and lies means nothing in their dealings with ‘you’….’you’ are sub-human so a lie is not a lie, an injustice is not so when levied against ‘you’/’us’…..it’s okay.
…..written by Brennan Guigue, and dated March 3, 2016
Editor’s note: This is only a brief capsule of conditions inside Toronto South Detention Centre, and Brennan Guigue has recalled just a few to make his point. Don’t look at TSDC as a template for the many other MCSCS institutions in Ontario, though. While abuses of power and questionable practices can be experienced elsewhere and to varying degrees, the dynamics at TSDC make it a stand-out.