Correctional Service Canada……

….keeps breaking its own rules, year after year after year.

Another archived file is a Canadian Press release from July 16, “Failure to comply with video taping rules for use-of-force incidents ‘alarming’: correctional investigator.”

Canada’s new Correctional Investigator, Ivan Zinger, is picking up where Howard Sapers left off, and has been publicly vocal in his criticism of CSC when and where the agency doesn’t measure up. The standards Mr. Zinger applies are not only the best practices in force in other jurisdictions, but CSC’s own procedures.

Of the 1,436 use-of-force incidents by guards against prisoners reviewed by the correctional investigator’s office in fiscal 2016-2017, there was a problem with video evidence about 67% of the time. Note this applies only to those cases where the OCI was informed and subsequently took a decision to become involved, and not where use-of-force was not reported, or where no records exist.

CSC policy says that guards must use hand-held video cameras when use-of-force is planned, and as feasible in spontaneous situations. Statistics show there’s a problem with compliance in both circumstances.

To quote from this press release on the absence of video evidence:
“One recent example is the case of Timothy (Mitch) Nome, who alleged guards in March at Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C., beat him in his cell without provocation. The independent investigator from Zinger’s office found no hand-held video of the incident was available for reasons not properly explained.
The lack of video evidence that could have proven or refuted Nome’s allegation left the investigator with little choice other than to say he couldn’t conclude what happened in Nome’s cell that morning, his report shows.”

Compliance has improved in the last few years, but issues such as delays in getting cameras to where they’re needed even when resources are available, not recording pre-incident briefings, and not filming decontamination practices where chemical agents have been employed, continue to plague the process.

“This is behind the wall and it’s always very secretive so there’s even more of a necessity that you follow policy with respect to video evidence,” Zinger said. “It’s to the benefit of everybody to make sure that cameras are used appropriately.”

Wouldn’t you think that consequences follow failures to comply with directives? What would the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers recommend as a remedy?

As for Correctional Service Canada, spokesperson Laura Cumming wouldn’t comment on the data in this report as the agency hasn’t verified the information. She also said policy breaches are not tolerated and would be investigated.

Correctional Service Canada spokespeople always say policy breaches are not tolerated and would be investigated. They say it over and over and over, year after year.

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Cruel & unusual punishment….

….okay in Canada, federal prosecutors say.

Section 12 of the Charter states: Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Dipping into our archives to review what’s been sitting on the back burner waiting for attention is Toronto Globe and Mail justice writer Sean Fine’s, “Federal prosecutors defend use of cruel, unusual punishment,” from last spring.

Several convicted people are using section 12 to challenge the legality of a Conservative-era law that imposes a financial burden on all convicted criminals, no matter how poor. “The mandatory victim surcharge was a centrepiece of the Harper government’s push to give more rights to victims and fewer to accused and convicted offenders,” says Sean Fine in his column.

Lawyers from the Public Prosecutions Service of Canada defended the surcharge before the Ontario Court of Appeal in mid-March, citing section 1 of the Charter where the government may seek to justify limits on rights, and courts must decide if the limits are reasonable. They claim the law is fair because the poor have extra time to pay, and cannot be jailed for defaulting.

The law ignited a judicial rebellion from the onset when judges in many provinces gave offenders up to 99 years to pay, or charged as little as thirty cents, or simply ignored it. And, the defence arguments are deeply at odds with the Liberal government’s present position on this law, and on the primacy of the Charter.

The federal prosecution service acts independently from the justice minister to avoid possible or perceived political interference. The minister does have the authority of a final say, and this case raises an issue about when that power should be employed. As it is, the present government is intent on reviewing the status of legislation that is not consistent with its commitments to a progressive approach to criminal law, and its support of Charter values.

An interesting sidebar is that if the prosecutors succeed in their arguments that the government can justify cruel and unusual punishment, the ruling might be used to defend practices up to and including torture.

One justice scholar recalls a 1982 conversation with Pierre Trudeau, father of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the Canadian prime minister who initiated the Charter. According to the senior Trudeau, “You know, I think section 12 might be the only absolute right.”

The appeal judges reserved their decision.

Soleiman Faqiri…..one for the ages.

“No detective needed!”, posted October 8, sketched the proverbial tip of an iceberg in Ontario’s prison industry. Would observers in other provinces say differently about British Columbia or Manitoba or Nova Scotia? Not likely. Is our federal penal system immune? There’s plenty of evidence that says it’s not.

True, few inmates die, and only a minute number of survivors step forward to fight for the attention warranted. And, what does the general public say? Tear some away from their brain-hacking mobile devices long enough to see there’s a problem, and most will shrink into their shells, afraid to assert their authority, overwhelmed by circumstances over which they believe are beyond their control……or, lacking the interest to accept responsibility for the bad decisions of their public employees.

Yes, there are honest men and women with ethical intentions and moral centres working in provincial and federal institutions, but the constraints of a forced conformity negate good will and progressive foresight.

What about management? What about ministry staff? What about the politicians charged with the oversight of our jails and prisons? Yes, what about them? Where is the accountability and transparency? Are these civil servants of ours thick-headed, unable to recognize what is under their noses?

Of course they’re not. There’s an old Victorian adage which says, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” Just keep a lid on whatever might float to the surface, damage control the leaks, and disparage the naysayers. When the pot does boil over, deny, deny, deny……and, quietly make the mess go away.

Change? Now that’s difficult. The ebb and flow of policy ‘corrections’ are meant to mollify the doubters and activists. Confining legislation is a necessary first step. But in spite of constant setbacks, there’s always hope.

For now, Soleiman Faqiri gave his life to ask us all…….where were you?

It didn’t have to happen!

No detective needed!

Soleiman Faqiri….another prison murder mystery?

Globe and Mail, Friday, July 21, 2017 – “Inmate died in solitary after dispute with officers: coroner’s report.”
Patrick White’s column began, “A 30-year-old Ontario man suffered at least 50 injuries before dying in a provincial solitary confinement cell last December, the culmination of an hours-long confrontation with prison guards.”

Soleiman Faqiri, a schizophrenic, was arrested on December 4, 2016, and charged with one count of assault and one count of uttering a death threat. He was transported to Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, placed in a segregation cell, and eleven days later, on December 15 and in deteriorating mental health, he died.

He died at the hands of jail guards. The coroner’s report noted a long list of injuries to Mr. Faqiri’s body, “including a bruised laceration on the forehead, multiple bruises about the nose, neck and ears, along with dozens of bruises and abrasions of his torso and limbs,” caused by blunt force trauma. All the same, the coroner would not, could not, explain this death.

Mr. Faqiri’s family want answers. In the meantime, Brennan Guigue has written an opinion, based on material published in the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, and on his long experience with Canada’s prison industry:-

So, Chris Butsch, local union president representing correctional officers at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, rejects allegations of wrongdoing by his members?! He doesn’t know the exact cause of Soleiman Faqiri’s death?!

Really?

Let’s assess the situation based on the information contained in Patrick White’s Globe and Mail article from July 21, 2017……and my knowledge of, and experience with, similar circumstances.
1) Five or six guards escorted Soleiman Faqiri from the showers to cell B-10. Control of an inmate dictates the number of guards. One is assigned to each limb (4), one officer is assigned control of the inmate’s head (Mr. Faqiri was “hunched over” because the guard was physically holding it down.) Finally, one officer is assigned control of the capsicum canister to ‘charge’ the pepper spray for the duration of the event.
These are standard procedures for the handling of an aggressive or…..”rebellious” inmate.
2) Mr. Faqiri was handcuffed and shackled, lending even more control for the guards.
3) But, because 6 prison guards didn’t have enough control over this one individual in full restraints, he was ‘doused’ with pepper spray. That word alone conjures up visions of someone having a bucket of water dumped over them.

What?

Understand the purpose of pepper spray and how it is to be used.
Pepper spray is part of a guard’s arsenal of tools, for use as a deterrent when an inmate is acting in a threatening or aggressive way toward staff/self/or others.
That’s it……, that’s all. It’s very simple.
No matter what MCSCS may claim, chemical agents are not to be used on a handcuffed and shackled inmate who refuses to enter a cell, and is surrounded by 5 or 6 jail guards.

So now, the inmate has been sprayed, and I guarantee that spray was directed at his face, mouth, and nose, contrary to training and policy, and he is then wrestled to the floor by 5 or 6 guards, all the while struggling to breathe.

What is it like to be ‘doused’ with pepper spray? Take the cayenne, chili, and any other pepper in your kitchen, boil it in a pot of water until reduced to sludge. Smear that all over your face, including your eyes and nostrils, and then even gargle with it. Now, try to pick a fight with six other people while your hands and feet are tied. As a by-the-way, capsicum is 7 to 10 times more potent than the sludge from your kitchen’s pepper supply, but media reports are always woefully understated.

Excusing the aside, you really need to understand what happened to this human being, and empathize with the torture to which he was subjected.

Making this worse, the inmate was then sprayed a second time! For certain, this second dose was also directly in the face at a range of only two to three inches. Believe me, when that happens, the one and only thing your mind tells your body to do is…..SURVIVE!

To quote Patrick White’s article, Mr Faqiri was “continuing to raise himself off the floor”. This was a clear sign he was in pure “fight or flight” mode. Could you struggle with 6 people, one on each limb, while handcuffed and shackled, and with such intensity that the guards called for help, calling a Code Blue? And that, after being sprayed not once, but twice, in the face with a chemical agent that is specifically designed to inhibit sight and breathing?

In one particular incident last year at Toronto South when two guards were assaulted, one male and one female who sprained a wrist, that was a justified Code Blue circumstance where immediate assistance was needed. This situation at Lindsay on December 15 was not. But the call was made, and 45 to 90 seconds later, the “second shift” arrives and places “a hood over his head” (Faqiri), further restricting the inmate’s breathing. It’s the youngest, fittest, strongest, most gung-ho male guards who respond to the Code Blue; they have to sprint from all areas of the institution.

The result? “A lengthy list of injuries”, “dozens of bruises”, nose (punches to the face, or a grown man’s weight smashing his head into the floor, and probably both), neck (choke hold), ears (again, strikes or smashing of the head into the floor), “blunt force trauma.” The coroner suggests that Mr. Faqiri’s arrhythmia could have been triggered by a combination of physical struggle, emotional agitation, and pain. Oh…., and there’s the presence of antipsychotic medication.

Really? Basically then, handcuffed, twice pepper sprayed, choked, beaten, and having his head covered with a hood, all the while having two separate groups of 5 or 6 guards on top of him had absolutely nothing to do with this man’s death!

If the second shift of guards was necessary because the first shift was exhausted from struggling with one person, how exhausted would Mr. Faqiri have been? Perhaps the guards mistook Mr. Faqiri for Dr. David Banner, and feared he was about to transform into the HULK. That’s about as believable as Mr. Butsch’s claim that his members “acted professionally to subdue a rebellious inmate”! And then he goes on to say neither he nor anyone else knows the exact cause of death!

Oh well then……case closed people, job well done. Mr. Faqiri must have been suicidal and he somehow managed to kill himself while being restrained by a total of no less than 10 to 12 grown adults.

Case closed.

Sometimes the answers are less important than the questions.
1) All capsicum canisters are weighed at the start of each shift, as well as at the end. When a guard sprays any amount of chemical agent during a use-of-force incident, that canister is weighed to determine how much agent was used. That’s the policy. Each canister holds a specific number of ‘doses’, and the amount used indicates how many doses were deployed against an individual.
Question: How many doses were used against Mr. Faqiri? How much time elapsed between the first ‘dousing’, the second round, the Code Blue response time and, finally, the end of staff intervention? Did the coroner find traces of capsicum in the lungs and throat?
Remember, during this whole incident this man could not breathe, move, see, and was being choked, enduring dozens of blunt force strikes.

In the end, any reasonably intelligent person could see that, (1) the guards used their pepper spray as a weapon and not as a deterrent, (2) 5 or 6 staff members should have been able to control a person who was already subdued in full restraints….or has their training not prepared them for such situations, (3) they then employed excessive, gratuitous force, beat him up, claiming it was necessary to gain his compliance, but more likely, it was to teach him a lesson, (4) and, this is the kicker……THE MAN DIED!

A final thought: what would happen if you and four or five of your friends jumped an individual, tied him up, beat him, causing “dozens of bruises” (more that 50……..50!), choked him until he stopped moving and breathing….., and then found that you had killed that person. What would happen in a court of law, given the available evidence?
Question: Why should those we hold to a higher standard be able to commit murder, and not be held responsible for their actions?
“Held responsible”…..isn’t that the basis of our legal system?

When these cases come to light, people act surprised; there’s incredulousness in their viewpoint. Inmates who witness, or experience, such circumstance are always scoffed at. Criminals have no credibility……right? Chris Butsch can be as dismissive of the evidence as his conscience will allow, but no matter how clean the castle, pull back it’s carpet and you’ll find some dirt.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, ANYBODY can end up in one of these places. From murder to trespassing, to unpaid fines, and contrary to the provisions in sections 7 & 8 of the Charter of Rights, there really is no guarantee of walking out unharmed. If unforeseen traumatic events can happen in a hospital, why is it so hard to believe it could happen in a jail?

If you think the ‘blue wall of silence’ is thick with the police…..they got nothin’ on correctional officers!

Thugs and bullies!

It’s one of the best jobs in the world. Where else can you kick a man to death and get six months paid leave in order to deal with the trauma of it all?

Brennan Guigue

August 7, 2017

Brennan Guigue has an active lawsuit against Correctional Service Canada over an unwarranted use-of-force pepper spray incident in 2014. He is well-versed on Canada’s prison industry protocols and the use of chemical agents.
See more at turnoverarocktoday.com/justice for Brennan Guigue

One step at a time……

……and make no mistake, Correctional Service of Canada does not want paper and video documentation on this July 2014 incident in the public domain. It’s bad PR, and just when the agency is under increased criticism and scrutiny in the media, and in the courts in Ontario and British Columbia, over its use of solitary confinement.

Both parties to this action against Canada’s federal ‘prison industry’ completed their portion of the Case Protocol, and Kalman Samuels filed the document in the Superior Court record in Montreal on September 7.

The government has asked that Eric Charbonneau’s name be removed from the Application. That has been rejected. The government has also requested a stay of proceedings for two months in order to engage in negotiations. It believes the information in its possession will allow the matter to be settled. That too has been rejected. What has been proposed is the scheduling of pre-trial examinations in mid-October or November to allow time for negotiation before the case moves forward. The government has accepted that proposition.

Brennan Guigue approved the Case Protocol, but the matter of available medical reports as a part of the material under consideration is questionable. Brennan was unable to bring in independent and outside medical assessment and treatment, and had to rely on what was available through CSC’s Health Care. This has been discounted in previous postings as corrupted for lack of due diligence, but would be subject to argument at trial.

Brennan Guigue is open to a negotiated settlement of course, but rightly insists there must be a level playing field. He and his counsel must have all the information available to the government. That includes the complete and unedited video, plus the redacted data CSC has so far offered to release, and there must be an opportunity to determine if other redacted data is necessary in order to reach a fair and equitable resolution.

The wheels turn………