A slap in the face: a pat on the back!

This interruption in the prison series brought to you by staff at Millhaven Institution. The letter and notes reprinted here are self-explanatory. (Note – PFV – 3-day private family visit)

November 12, 2018

K. Lollar, Correctional Manager,
Millhaven Institution,
5775 Bath Road, P.O. Box 280,
Bath, ON K0H 1G0

Re: Representation to Visitor Review Board re November 9 PFV

Correctional Manager Lollar:

Now I know with certainty. I’ve become a victim, too. I’m not pleased, and don’t appreciate the unnecessary experience I had on November 9.

After more than thirty years of advocacy, I know not everyone at Correctional Service of Canada is on the same page. Internal adherence/support for policies and procedures can vary and fluctuate, regardless of the Service’s public face. That this can negatively impact members of the public and the offenders to whom they are connected is regrettable.

For the sake of brevity here, I’ve attached three pages of my personal notes from that morning when I attempted to check in for a PFV with my son, Brennan Guigue. That there are no steps to counter a CSC position is not acceptable in the face of the mandate to foster positive interaction between offenders and their families.

I was not bringing contraband into Millhaven. Period! I know that. The people in Ontario and Quebec who help me move around and live comfortably given my present circumstances support that.

I believe I deserve an explanation that goes beyond simply that the drug dog “indicated” on me, given there were prior multiple passes.

I want the names of the officer who checked my property and meds, and the officer who handled the drug dog.

I deserve consideration for the expenses incurred in making this trip, and for PFV supplies.

I would go so far as to suggest an apology from CSC is in order.

And, I have one final request from the Visitor Review Board. No matter the outcome of your deliberations, and as much as I want a PFV with my son, there is no point in approving my participation in this program without some assurance that every staff member with whom I come into contact is in agreement.

With that, I’ll leave you to your work.

Charles H. Klassen

cc: Crystal Thompson, Warden, Millhaven Institution
Deputy Warden, Millhaven Institution
SIO Department, Millhaven Institution
Sector Coordinator P. Osypchuck, V & C
Correctional Manager Mike Kirkwood
Deputy Commissioner – CSC Regional Headquarters – Ontario
Assistant Commissioner – Correctional Operations & Programs – NHQ
Brennan Guigue

)()(

November 11, 2018

MILLHAVEN INSTITUTION THREE-DAY PFV WITH BRENNAN GUIGUE

A summary of the morning of November 9, 2018 from c. 8:55am until c. 11:30am:-

My Kingston area hosts drove me to the Millhaven Institution reception building, arriving just prior to 9am.

I presented my passport to the officer who signed me in. She used my watch for the ion scan, gave me a lock and key, called V & C (I assumed) to say I’d arrived, and offered me a seat for the few minutes wait.
I put the cloth bag holding my document case containing papers I studied on the trip, along with wallet, cash/coin, keys, into the locker.
I then had only my passport and the key to the locker on my person.

A guard arrived from V & C a few minutes later with papers from Ms P. Osypchuck, Sector Coordinator for V & C, referencing an inspection of my ankle and knee braces. I moved property for the PFV from my suitcase to one from the institution. I removed my right shoe and Richie Brace and it was put through the scanner. The guard checked the knee brace. He inspected the prescription meds, and the suitcase was put through the scanner. The guard stowed my case in a tight-fitting unused locked, and I walked through the scanner and was cleared.

I followed him outside, dragging the suitcase behind me, and through the perimeter security fencing onto the prison grounds. He was ahead of me carrying the bag of medications.

An employee behind me lifted my case up the few steps to the V & C entrance. Once inside, I put it against the wall of the lobby, and the guard ushered me to a locked office a few feet away to the right and showed me the four small lockers where the meds would be stored. He explained the routine. He needed two lockers for my meds, and still had to put one item on a shelf.

We exited that office and my bag was laying flat on the floor against the wall of the lobby, open and awaiting inspection by the drug dog. The guard in charge of the dog positioned me, brought the dog from its kennel a few feet away and made the usual multi-sweep of me and my bag. The guard put the dog back in the kennel, asked me to stand with my back against the wall, and again brought out the dog. It reached up with one paw to just above my waist, dropped back to the floor, sniffed my right shoe and sat down.

Ms Osypchuck was watching at this point from her office door a few feet away. She told me the dog had “indicated” on me and a superior would have to be called. It was to take 10 to 15 minutes and she brought a chair out of her office for me.

Over the next while, staff members came and went through the entrance and the guard who had been my escort stayed for a time, but was eventually called away. The guard handling the dog left with the dog and returned alone a few minutes later and went into Officer Osypchuck’s office. I was told it was taking longer than expected to bring someone to the lobby but it would be only a few more minutes.

(I didn’t realize ‘til later but Correctional Manager K. Lollar in charge of this area was not available and another Correctional Manager was called.)

Correctional Manager Mike Kirkwood arrived, went into Ms Osypchuck’s office and closed the door. I could hear the conversation although not what was being discussed, but after a very few minutes, I did hear her say, “You can speak to him if you want.”

All this time, I had been sitting quietly in the lobby, observing the movement around me, but not interacting with anyone.

CM Kirkwood stepped out of the office, introduced himself and asked me to join them. Someone retrieved the chair I’d been using as it was needed. The dog-handler was bent over the desk completing a form which he handed to CM Kirkwood and then left.
CM Kirkland sat a few feet from me, shuffling papers in his hand. He looked at me and said something to the effect of, “can you tell me anything to explain what had happened.” I assured him I wasn’t bringing contraband into the institution, I couldn’t explain what had happened, and asked how I could show that was the case.

This briefly went back and forth, he referenced circumstances at Kingston Penitentiary many years prior, and also spoke about mail sent to Brennan Guigue which didn’t have a return address as a component of concern, along with what had just occurred with the dog. I told him I sent mail to Brennan weekly, always with a return address. In retrospect I should have pursued the matter of mail, and how it had anything to do with this day. The question of the dog and my right foot arose and Ms Osypchuck told him the brace had been checked at reception.

CM Kirkwood then said he had to speak with the warden and left. Ms. Osypchuck suggested I could stay where I was while she worked. Twenty minutes and more passed. There were short and mostly unrelated exchanges between Ms. Osypchuck and me, including a request for water which she accommodated. I did bring up how one counters the question at hand, and she said if I was referring to strip searches, in the 24 years she’d been with CSC, not once had a warden authorized the strip search of a visitor.

CM Kirkwood returned eventually, walking purposefully into the office, saying, “I have bad news.” He had conferred with the warden, deputy warden, I believe security was involved, and the decision was taken to cancel the PFV. My only interjection, the only one I could make, was to question how I could reassure them. I was more than a little surprised to be caught up in this.

I assume that if it was not for the drug dog, the next step would have been for the escort to supply razors to replace my electric razor before going to the PFV unit.
Also, Ms Osypchuck told me during an October 11 telephone conversation that the institution would supply a substitute for the Depends Guards I use at night.

CM Kirkwood asked Ms Osypchuck about groceries, which had apparently been delivered, and then asked if I could take them. I declined as that wasn’t possible. I was told I had five days to respond to what they were to give me. Ms Osypchuck indicated it was better to say something rather than nothing.

A ‘Letter To Visitor On “Positive Indication Using Non-Intrusive Search Tools”’ was prepared, and both CM Kirkwood and Ms Osypchuck escorted me to reception. Mr. Kirkwood dialed my hosts’ phone number so I was able to arrange for a pick up and he left. Ms Osypchuck added her name and number to the letter, suggesting I call her for an email address to use for my presentation. The groceries in four boxes were on the floor of reception, apparently to be donated to a food bank.

I was picked up shortly after, and left. It was about 11:30am.

How kind of Correctional Service of Canada to validate my work. That is this farce’s one takeaway .

Bob’s “Blue Wall”

……….Robert Clark weighed in on another road block “to ensure that when offenders return to their communities, they are well-prepared to lead safe, productive, law-abiding lives.” (From Minister Goodale’s mandate letter to CSC Commissioner Kelly-September 2018)

Robert Clark retired from Correctional Service of Canada in 2009, rising through the ranks to become a deputy warden, and later authored “Down Inside: 30 Years In Canada’s Prison Service”, published last year. Experience taught him the culture within our federal prison system didn’t support positive outcomes for inmates, and in his dismayed opinion, that culture wasn’t likely to change. That doesn’t bode well for Ralph Goodale’s mandate to new CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly.

Mr. Clark also testified in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in July of last year at a lawsuit the BC Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society brought against Canada over CSC’s use of solitary confinement. (The BCCLA & John Howard won this action.) In his testimony, he talked about “the blue wall”, a code of secrecy where guards cover up for each other, an unwritten code that says correctional officers cannot “rat” on other guards.

Quoting from the July 19, 2017 Globe and Mail, “Mr. Clark testified there is considerable racism within the correctional service and a culture of collective indifference. He said employees often reach a point where they believe inmates are not worthy of their time and energy.”

When asked, Correctional Service of Canada in Ottawa released a statement claiming employees are expected to act in accordance with legal and ethical standards and are subject to a code of discipline. “We do not tolerate any breach of our policies and all allegations are thoroughly investigated regardless of the source.”

Now, the bulk if not all complaints against officers would come from inmates. Please refer to “inmates always lie” from “The Firewall” (November 4), and “the blue wall” above to assess the probable effectiveness of CSC investigations.

Robert Clark then guested on CBC FM Radio’s “The Current” on August 27 of this year to comment on an inmate strike in the U.S. Relating this to his perspective of Canada’s prisons, he told his host that the majority of staff in Canadian prisons is indifferent to the plight and rehabilitation of inmates.

He noted the move away from dynamic security in which guards and inmates interact, to static security where contact is limited, as an example of a regressive measure.

The Firewall…….

…..how special interests within Correctional Service of Canada silences dissent and voices that need to be heard.

The October 21st posting ended by suggesting fairy tales can be brought to life.

In last year’s March 26th, “Cells for sale or rent,” the Netherlands had accomplished the enviable feat of emptying about a third of its prison cells through crime-reducing measures, and an emphasis on rehabilitation over incarceration. But, 2600 surplus prison guards became a political headache, and eclipsed the benefits of repurposing underused prisons and the more important achievement for progressive prison reform.

Why?

Job security is important for us all. And, just as in Holland, a thriving prison industry in Canada keeps many thousands of men and women employed, and not only with Correctional Service of Canada.

It’s been pointed out before that any other enterprise that had a failure rate as high as it is almost everywhere in the western world’s prisons would be dismantled and begun again from scratch.

If the success of a “correctional” system was measured more by the efficacy of its mandate to rehabilitate and less on only assessing risks to the community, input from the men and women who would benefit most from a “correctional” system is essential.

That doesn’t happen. That doesn’t happen because that is a risk to the status quo. It doesn’t happen because that is a risk to job security.

Prison staff, prison guards and the unions that so ably represent them have a mantra, a maxim that has multiple articulations but basically boils down to, “Inmates always lie. Guards are always truthful.” It’s become an ingrained watchword, a firewall against including the “governed” in decisions that affect their future.

What’s more, what’s worse, that won’t change under current CSC culture.

Too bad for it. Too bad for us.