Political malpractice…….

……..leads to dubious policy and bad law.

So, you haven’t had a raise in ten years? How about not having a raise since 1981? How about not even having a cost-of-living increase? Worse, how about taking a pay cut?

Here’s one example of a suspect government program to guarantee the success of Canada’s prison industry.

Back in 1981, a parliamentary commission recommended a new pay scale for inmates in Canada’s federal prisons. It was based on the minimum wage at the time, reduced by 85% for room and board and other costs to the prison system. Only a very few inmates received the top rate of $6.90 per day, based on the work available to them, while the average was about $3 per day.

This money was intended to pay for phone calls, help with family support, save in preparation for release, fund outside educational courses, assist with travel and food costs for family visits, purchase personal hygiene products and over the counter medicines, and supplement the 2600 calorie a day diet provided by the institutions…..as a start. It was also an incentive to learn money management.

The purpose of this pay program hasn’t changed since 1981 but the dynamics certainly have. With no increases in funding over the years, the Office of the Correctional Investigator commissioned a 2005-2006 report after noticing increased complaints underscoring the impact of inflation.

This report, released in 2006, determined that the cost of a basket of canteen items purchased in 1981 for $8.49 had grown to $61.49 by 2006! And, inmates were expected to budget with the same $3 a day average.

That was back in 2006, and thanks to Stephen Harper and his band of merry Neanderthals, matters were going to get a lot worse.

Stay tuned…….


All we are saying………

……is give change a chance.

Canadians know more about the rings around Saturn than they do about the country’s prison industry, and what they do know about our prison industry comes from the men and women who operate it. And, the men and women who operate our prison industry like it that way, want it that way, and work to keep it that way.

Imagine General Motors recalling millions of cars on one hand, while GM management touts the corporation’s success on the other. Where are the voices of the customers? How long would it take for the public to catch on that something is askew?

And yet, when it comes to jails, prisons, and the men and women housed in them, most people in the community accept the status quo is the best we can do.

To repeat from Baz Dreisinger’s “Incarceration Nation” in our February 25 posting “’Prison industry’ talking points”, when writing about prisons, “….if any other system had a 60 percent failure rate – that’s the U.S. recidivism rate, and in much of the world the numbers don’t look much better – we’d dismantle that system right away and go right back to the drawing board.”

So, just when will the service agencies in this country with “Correctional” in their names become ‘correctional’ services for all of us? Just when will we get that programming can be stacked to the ceilings, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into some measure of success? The statistics challenge the efficacy of what we do now. Just when will the voices of inmates, the ‘customers’ of our prisons and jails, be included in the conversation?

We endorse the progressive and restorative policies in some other jurisdictions that are rejected here so often as a matter of course. We frequently suggest that Correctional Service Canada’s management be replaced, and not by second-stringers already in the Service, but by outsiders where best practices make for lower recidivism and safer communities.

Don Head, the long-time commissioner of our federal prisons, and his team might work out in another government agency. How about the Conflict of Interest & Ethics Commissioner’s office?

This is but another reminder that reform is overdue, and the call for change must be kept on the front burner.


Soleiman Faqiri & burying the truth

The Toronto Star’s Tuesday, May 15 front page featured staff reporter Fatima Syed’s “Correctional ministry won’t release video of inmate’s last hours.” Ms Syed has been following the Faqari family’s patience and forbearance as it struggles for answers, for accountability, and for transparency. So far, it has nothing……only a grave to visit.

Soleiman Faqiri died at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay in December of 2016 after a three-hour confrontation with guards. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is keeping video of his last hours secret from the public and the man’s family.

We’ve previously published a few postings on this man’s death at the hands of provincial jail guards, the last on February 18, “Soleiman Faqiri-another comeback.”

MCCS cites section 65(6) of Ontario’s privacy law, which refers to labour relations. Experts in the field suggest the application of that section is ‘hokum’, in so many words, and is really a ploy to protect the identities of correctional officers who appear in the video.

Lawyers with a history of attempts to shake information out of MCCS claim secrecy is “part of the ministry’s MO”, as one put it. Another, familiar with privacy law, agrees the secrecy “is concerning because of vast potential to cover up serious misconduct in Ontario jails.”

May 24, 2018

Sam Erry, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services,
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Re: Soleiman Faqiri

Dear Deputy Minister Erry:

We know that Soleiman Faqiri was alive on the afternoon of December 15, 2016, at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.

We know that he was dead by the end of the day.

We know his only contact in his final hours was with an army of correctional officers.

We know he had 50 injuries to his body and asphyxia was the cause of death.

We know your ministry says it hasn’t any idea how all that happened.

We know Faqiri didn’t commit suicide.

We now know you’re hiding the video of his last hours from his family and the public.

We know your ministry’s refusal to ‘come clean’ stinks of obstruction.

We hope the settlement is painful.


Charles H. Klassen

Remember, these are our civil servants. Does your behind ache?