So, an offender we’ll call George (we’ll keep him anonymous) spends about two years in Warkworth, a federal prison near Campbellford in Ontario. He is released on parole to a half-way house operated by Correctional Service of Canada in Kingston while he waits for a bed in another CSC half-way house in his hometown.
George has every reason to expect his daily medication will be continued at the half-way house without interruption, but is told he must first see the doctor, a contracted doctor who is available perhaps once in a month. George is stumped by this circumstance, given that he’s offered no recourse, feels he’d been left in limbo, typical of Correctional Service of Canada protocols, and knows he must somehow fend for himself.
He can leave the house during the day, and legally purchases cannabis which will substitute ‘til the doctor sees him. But he doesn’t know he needs a permit to have this in his possession as an ex-offender still under CSC supervision. His parole officer suspends his parole, he is arrested by local police, and sent to the Ontario provincial Central East Detention Centre in Lindsay awaiting a decision by his P.O. to either return him to the house or send him back to prison pending a review by the Parole Board of Canada.
The health-care unit in Lindsay is told by the Kingston half-way house that he is not on any medications. He calls us for help. We call his parole officer in Kingston, reaching only a voice mail, and ask that the P.O. intervene to get the correct information to Lindsay. Nothing happens. George calls again, and again we make the call to Kingston, and leave another message. Nothing happens.
George is returned to Warkworth. His daily medication is resumed of course, and he’s waiting for a Parole Board hearing which could take up to three months or more. He will most likely be sent back to the half-way house in Kingston, or to another where a bed is available. And yes, he will have to wait to get his meds.
Does George’s experience seem familiar?
Refer to Brennan Guigue’s first-person narrative, “They don’t care.” PART II – An illustration, published on June 5th of this year under ‘Wars of my world.’
“I was released from a prison in Quebec while in the middle of treatment for Hep C. This was way back when the regimen consisted of a combination of injections along with oral medications (Ribavirin and Interferon). Before leaving the prison, I asked about continuing the treatment in the community and was given assurances that it was “all taken care of.” I was handed a parcel of documents and appointment slips for a clinic in Montreal, l’Actuel.
However, when I reached the half-way house and went to what I had thought was an arranged appointment at l’Actuel to resume that treatment, I found there was in fact no appointment listed, and that they had no idea who I was. But, if I wanted a consultation with an infectious disease specialist, they would be happy to oblige, provided I paid the $62.00 consultation fee.
In my frustration and disappointment, I returned to the half-way house to ask my then Parole Officer to simply explain why, after showing the clinic all the paperwork given to me by the prison, I was having so much difficulty in obtaining adequate health services in the community? Why would the prison health department go through the motions of providing me with all this meaningless paperwork if in fact they had no intention of helping me once I was released. Basically, she told me that providing me with adequate health care services was not her problem.
This exchange with my Parole Officer was recorded as a “negative interaction”, and later listed as one of the deciding factors…a deteriorating attitude and arrogance…when the ‘house’ sent me back to prison……
…..as it turned out, I was returned to the community and to that same half-way house after about 98 days in Donaconna Institution because once I was before the Parole Board for my hearing, it could not find a reason NOT to revoke my suspension.”
Health-care information does not travel with an inmate transferred from one institution to another, including half-way houses. Only doctors can request an inmate’s medical files, which will take time, and in community settings that can be a matter of weeks.
Isn’t it interesting that while our health care providers would not generally recommend suspending a treatment program, and in many cases strongly advise against it, this doesn’t apply to prison inmates?
Let’s suggest this has more to do with Correctional Service of Canada practice than it does with a medical professional’s best advice.
Have we said before that “they don’t care.”