Prison media relations – what’s next?

WHEN WILL the powers in charge step in?
We wanted to know.

October 17, 2022

The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety,
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Re:      Correctional Service of Canada,
Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations

Dear Minister Mendicino:

The CD-022 revision to bring Correctional Service of Canada policies for inmate contacts with the media in compliance with the Charter and “recognized democratic principles,” as Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger wrote, began almost three years ago.

Specifically, thirty-four months ago.

“Prisoners talking to the media…..what’s the problem?”, my October 9th posting, is enclosed.  It’s a chronology of the initial written contact on CD-022 between Dr. Zinger and Commissioner Kelly, followed by my numerous exchanges with CSC, the OCI, plus two queries to your office which were ignored.

So, just where is this new media relations directive?  As CSC’s Colette Cibula wrote on July 28 of this year, “It is an important policy that helps us ensure that we are being transparent about Correctional Service of Canada to increase public trust and confidence.”

Where is the transparency?  What public trust and confidence?

Why is CSC holding out?  Explanations?  Plenty.  Excuses?  None.

Do you care?

Charles H. Klassen

This was copied to:-

Ms. Pam Damoff, MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Public Safety

The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth,
MP, Toronto Centre

Mr. Rob Stewart, Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Public Safety Canada

Ms. Tricia Geddes, Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Public Safety Canada

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator,    Ms. Stacie Ogg, Deputy Director,
Office of the Correctional Investigator          Office of the Correctional Investigator

Mr. Patrick White, The Globe and Mail, Toronto

We sent this covering letter with Dr. Zinger’s copy:-

October 17, 2022

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator,
The Office of the Correctional Investigator,
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6L4

Re:      Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations

Dear Dr. Zinger:

CSC’s Colette Cibula wrote in a July 28, 2022, letter to me:  “Part of the consultation for CD-022 included the Office of the Correctional Investigator which has been very helpful.”

I’m pleased you were involved in the process, but I suspect CSC is trying to rewrite the media relations directive to appear to comply with the Charter and the law while changing nothing in practice.  After all, that’s not only a systemic CSC objective in general, but CSC does not want inmates speaking with the media where it is at all possible to prevent it.

I’m sure you’re aware that inmates have always been able to reach print and broadcast journalists through undetectable cell phone connections.  Just so, you also know the publication of identifiable unauthorized material is subject to CSC sanctions.

In any case, an argument can be made that at this point that the CD-022 revision is no longer simply delayed.  It’s stalled.  I’ve enclosed your copy of a letter to Minister Mendicino and a relevant posting.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

So, is this going to get results?  Wishful thinking?  Something concrete other than giving politicians and civil servants heartburn and indigestion?  We are always prepared to be surprised.

What’s next


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