….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.