Why are we still talking about…..

…..SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

“I can only say that I do not think it is absurd to suggest that a person should not be kept locked up in a small cell 24 hours a day, and that if there were security concerns , they should be dealt with otherwise than by simply denying an inmate an opportunity to step out of her cell…..However, once again it seems that even if the law is known, there is a general perception that it can always be departed from for a valid reason, and that, in any event compliance with prisoners’ rights is not a priority…..it was part of a general punitive attitude which required inmates to earn entitlements to everything perceived as a privilege rather than a right.”
The Honourable Louise Arbour, Arbour Report 1996, Commission of Inquiry into certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston.

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Canada’s Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger submitted the 49th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator to Parliament on June 30, 2022.  As a part of the report’s National Level Investigations section, “Restrictive forms of Confinement in Federal Corrections” focused specifically on the six standalone maximum-security institutions for men, Atlantic in New Brunswick, Donnacona and Port-Cartier in Quebec, Millhaven in Ontario, Edmonton in Alberta, and Kent in British Columbia.

The extract from Madam Arbour’s 1996 report was the foreword to this investigative segment into the continued uses and forms of administrative segregation (solitary confinement) in Canada’s prisons.  Maximum-security prisons are a restrictive form of confinement by design, and while the report identified and described how this environment can negatively impact inmates in general, we will limit ourselves here to how old practices of segregation persist.

Ontario and British Columbia courts determined that solitary confinement violated fundamental rights protected by the Charter.  The federal government responded with Bill C-83 in 2019 to eliminate the practice and replace it with Structured Intervention Units (SIUs) which put minimum standards into law and required external oversight and external review.

The correctional investigator determined these standards are vulnerable to interpretation on the one hand, while the legislation that governs SIUs does not require Correctional Service of Canada to apply it provisions to other areas in federal prisons.  As the Annual Report put it, “a wide range of restrictive confinement conditions and practices exist outside of SIUs that are subject to little or no external oversight or independent monitoring.”

The OCI resolved that a reasonable definition for a restrictive confinement is anything less than four hours a day out-of-cell time.  Its investigation uncovered a number of areas, outside of SIUs and temporary lockdowns in place for COVID-19, where prisoners were given less than four hours of out-of-cell time.

In one institution (the report does not identify specific prisons), and aside from the prevailing standards in the SIU unit, the rest of the prison operated like a former administrative segregation range, allowing inmates less than three hours of out-of-cell time.  At another institution, what staff at the facility often referred to as “hidden cells” were used to keep prisoners in solitary confinement-like conditions for weeks at a time.  As a contrast, staff at a third institution were using their discretion to allow for more out-of-cell time than was standard.  As a result, none of the inmates interviewed complained about out-of-cell time and they all reported having more than four hours a day.  They did complain about having nothing to do with the time, but that is another maximum-security prison issue to be addressed in the future.

The Annual Report noted too that while the investigation focused on maximum-security institutions, their findings applied equally to some medium-security institutions as well.

What we have here is an instance of the disparity between policy and practice in our federal prisons which may include a disregard for the law.  Not only is there no uniform exercise of all prescribed standards across the system, but the CSC national headquarters in Ottawa will face down calls for accountability.  Not even parliament and the courts are spared.

Thus it has ever been, as Madam Arbour would find if she were to revisit operations in our federal prison system today.

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Prisons don’t care….

….WHY SHOULD WE?

The simple answer is that, with few exceptions, every man and woman in our federal prisons will one day be released back into the community.

Canadians take for granted and are encouraged to believe that our prison agency which oversees the rehabilitation process of offenders, and parole board members who decide the prospects for early release, meet their obligation to ensure a safe reintegration into society.  But frequent criticisms point to lawlessness by former offenders, accusing the system of failing its mandate to protect our neighbourhoods and for not supporting services to reduce recidivism.

We should care because we’re entitled to feel safe, and we want to be safe.

We should care because we want offenders to leave a life of criminality behind and contribute to the common good, even to mentoring children and youth in conflict with the law.

We should care because we want to trust that some very few offenders will never be released.

We should care because we own the shortcomings in the system.  They belong to us.  Apathy and indifference only serve to perpetuate our prison industry’s revolving door.

Releasing a prisoner on parole prior to their warrant expiry; that is, before the end of their sentence, allows for a strategically controlled release into the community.  It’s a good model.  Technically, ex-offenders are monitored as they move toward freedom, and constructive interventions can be deployed when and if necessary.  In theory, this is the preferred option, but in practice, there is a tendency more often to look for ways to return parolees to prison as an easy recourse rather than working with them to reverse missteps.

Before reaching the point in their sentence where applying for parole is possible though, prisoners must navigate the complexities in a carceral agency that is not always pro-rehabilitative.  The challenge for activists, lawyers, researchers, and family members working on behalf of our prison population is to find ways to make people care.  Prisoners are an easy political target and without public interest there is little political incentive for reforms.

Correctional Service of Canada is responsible for the incarceration and successful reintegration of federal prisoners and is mandated to manage their rehabilitation and potential risks.  In 2014, under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, CSC experienced deep cuts in funding, affecting staffing levels and programming in both penitentiaries and in the community.

That left community partners, funded by other government levels or non-profits, to absorb ex-offenders into support programs for addictions, mental health, and indigenous and cultural healing that are already oversubscribed.  In the meantime, there’s been no compensating federal government funding for beds and spaces on which these programs rely for positive reintegration outcomes.

Further, Karen Hogan, Canada’s auditor general, writes in her 2022 report that our ‘prison service’ has not given offenders timely access to programs to help ease them back into society, including courses specific to women, Indigenous people, and visible minorities.  What’s more, Ms. Hogan’s office raised similar concerns in audits in 2015, 2016, and 2017, but little has been done to change policies, practices, tools and approaches that produce differing outcomes.  CSC agreed again to act on her recommendations, but then we’ve seen these assurances from Correctional Service of Canada on many issues over a lot of years, only to learn the agency is a lip service specialist.

(Sourced in part from Robyn Urback/Globe and Mail, February, 2021, Canadian Press, May, 2022, and David Neufeld/Globe and Mail, September, 2022)

As a postscript, the chase for the revision to Commissioner’s Directive C-022 Media Relations, promised three years ago by Correctional Service of Canada, is not abandoned.  More will come.

 

Lost in prison.

LOST BY PRISON.

Troubled kids become angry teenagers and that can make for violent adults.  Just so, our prison industry is the dumping ground for what we allow our criminal justice system to see as society’s detritus.  And to salve our collective conscience in the face of failed interventions to right the wrongs we see around us, we charge our prisons to rehabilitate the lost and damaged and send them back to us ‘fixed.’

We could wish that’s the way it is.

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Global News released the findings of a study in November of this year into an Ontario group home chain and the overmedicating of the teens and pre-teens in its care.  Investigators Andrew Russell, Carolyn Jarvis and Michael Wrobel scrutinized the practices of for-profit Hatts Off, the second largest operator of group homes for youth in Ontario.  Former clients claim drugs and lots of them was the help they got in response to the problems that brought them into Ontario’s child welfare system. 

“Experts say intensive therapy is needed for kids to heal from the trauma and abuse, or to live with mental health disorders,” the Global report says.  Drugs have a role but the counselling and treatment that should be the primary counter was in short supply if available at all.  About 20 former staff and youth confirmed the use of psychotropics was “widespread” and melatonin supplements was also on the menu as a sleep aid. 

Further, this report tells us that overall, 75% of kids in care in the province’s foster and group homes take behaviour-altering drugs.  We’re allowing our government to mask the problems these children and youth face rather than budgeting for the mental health care that can give them the opportunities to live productively and positively in the community with on-going access to mental health resources as needed.

Drugged, untreated teenagers who age-out of child welfare can easily become fodder for our criminal justice system and the prison industry.  And they do, in large numbers.  That’s costly to us all, but is there a method to this madness?

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The August 28 posting, “One prison……One health care follow-up”, continued inmate Brennan Guigue’s quest for health care in as many as nine Canadian prisons.

“Inmate requests for mental health care are triaged, Brennan learned, and with limited staff in high-needs prison populations, access can be worse than in the community.  Brennan has been waiting for years.  Except for CSC’s five or six treatment centres, these conditions are the norm in the system.  Port Cartier, for instance, has one psychiatrist who is in-house one day every month or two, plus two staff psychologists.”

Correctional Service of Canada’s treatment centres house offenders diagnosed with serious mental health disorders, often with serious impairments.  Given the high rate of mental/emotional health conditions in the general prison population, the system is not designed to provide even basic counselling services to the many inmates who are looking for help.

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So, we put “sick” kids under government care where they’re frequently looked on as “bad” kids, use drugs as a control, pay lip service to healing, and then release them to a world in which they too often cannot cope.  Many end up in our prisons where they are warehoused, prescribed drugs, if they are even able to access mental health care resources, and then released back into a community that worries about crime.

Should we expect otherwise?

What would happen if Correctional Service of Canada, (1) met its mandates under the Corrections & Conditional Release Act in the trenches as its Ottawa headquarters claims it is, (2) enforced its Commissioner’s Directives, and (3) required the members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers to work in concert with CSC to meet those mandates?

The method in the madness is in the answer.

The next posting is January 8.

 

 

Prisons versus media access

While waiting for public service chutzpah to show up…if there is such a thing in a public servant….the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights was brought on-line with the folly that is the forever pending revision to Correctional Service of Canada’s media relation policy. 

This Senate committee has studied the Human Rights of Federally-Sentenced Persons for a few years.  It’s made plain-spoken and frank observations about Canada’s prison operations, findings that for the most part cause elected members of the House to feign blindness.  All the same, our Senate continues to observe, investigate, and make recommendations.

 November 30, 2022,

The Honourable Salma Ataullahjan, Chair,
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights,
The Senate of Canada Building,
2 Rideau Street,
Ottawa, ON  K1N 8X5

Re:      Human Rights of Federally-Sentenced Persons

Dear Senator Ataullahjan:

The committee you currently chair has studied the human rights concerns of offenders in our federal prison system for some years.  The comprehensive 326-page 4th Report tabled on June 16, 2021, is wide-ranging and justly critical.  Many are awaiting the final report.

I bring to your attention an on-going issue with the revision of CSC Commissioner’s Directive 022–Media Relations.  This has been underway since Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger laid down the need for change on page 18 of his 2019-2020 Annual Report, submitted on June 26, 2020.  CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly committed to revisions prior to the release of the OCI report and later confirmed her intent in a February 24, 2020, letter to Dr. Zinger, copy enclosed.

As of now, no revision to CD-022 is in evidence.  Not only that, but the lengthy delay suggests a CSC distaste for media scrutiny.  I’ve enclosed here too a reprint of my October 9, 2022, post that chronicles a tracking of the sluggish progress towards a resolution.  With it is the October 23rd post publishing letters to Minister Mendicino and Dr. Zinger on this continued delay and includes a list of copied parties.  There are no responses to date.

One wonders where courage lives!

Senator Kim Pate is not a current member of the committee, but her interest in the prison system prompts copies to her.

Yours truly,

We’re in the pre-holiday period of the legislative year, and governments are clearing away the business it can resolve before recess and shelving all else for the Christmas break.  No more can be expected this year.

Bets that when we pick this up again in 2023, it’ll be as if we’re staring all over?  It’s like a Trumpian thing.

 

Prison industry screws George

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.

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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.’

Edited quotations:-

“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.”

Prison & the press – we’re waiting……

…..ON THOSE POWERS IN CHARGE, those powers we petitioned on October 17 and posted on October 23, those powers who can make the necessary happen if they choose, those powers who must find the heart to act.

We’ll wait and keep watch….for now.

A commissioner’s directive for media relations is a reasonable and prudent guide for managing Correctional Service of Canada staff contacts with print and broadcast media.  CSC employees are fertile ground for tabloid-like sensationalism.

But inmates are not CSC employees.  David Jolivet, a paralegal who was for some long years a federal inmate in British Columbia, began a movement in 2007 to unionize prisoners, arguing prison inmates were government employees.  By early 2014 however, and despite a broad range of support amidst his court and committee appearances, a Federal Court of Appeal denied relief from a lower court ruling which said that prisoners were not government employees.  A further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada out of Quebec was either denied or abandoned.

At the same time, the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that prisoners do not, by virtue of their imprisonment, lose the guarantee of basic human rights, including freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of expression, nor does their imprisonment remove their protection from unreasonable search and seizure and cruel and unusual punishment.

Correctional Service of Canada operates under the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and must comply with the Charter and legislation relative to the care and treatment of citizens in carceral environments.  Given this, CSC should have no concerns about prisoners’ contacts with the Fourth Estate.  Journalists, editors, publishers, and broadcasters are well-versed in privacy and security issues.  If we accept that CSC adheres to its mandate, what objections could CSC have with inmate/media relations?

But CSC does have issues and we can only speculate on why that is.  We can refer, as we often have, to the Senate’s interim report on prison human rights, the second paragraph of the Executive Summary from February of 2019:-
“The security features inherent to federal correctional facilities are designed to keep people in as much as they are to keep people out.  As a result, the management of the federally-sentenced population is largely conducted away from public scrutiny.  Invisible to the general population, federally-sentenced persons are often forgotten.”

That’s from the interim report.  The final version has yet to be published, if ever, and that’s not due to a tardy senate committee.

Too often when matters arise between the people and their governments and government agencies, we are made to feel like Diogenes, holding high his lantern in the search for an honest man.

The delay in publishing this revised C-022 Media Relations directive has taken on a life of its own, inviting more questions of Correctional Service of Canada than the concerns first raised three years ago for the need of any change at all.

This isn’t going away.

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

Prisoners talking to the media…….what’s the problem?

Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations lays out the policy for management, staff, and inmate contacts with the fourth estate.  CSC must revise inmate/media policy.  It’s been underway for two and a half years.  Here’s…   

…A CHRONOLOGY

December 18, 2019 – Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger writes to Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly with concerns that where CD 022 governs inmate contacts with media may not be Charter compliant and “in violation of recognized democratic principles.”

February 24, 2020 – Anne Kelly responds, advises “a revision of CD 022 in currently underway,” and, “we have reviewed the comments that you and your organization provided when CD 022 was distributed for external consultation on February 4, 2020.”  Moreover, “we expect that the revised CD 022 will be available by the end of June 2020.”

June 26, 2020 – Dr. Ivan Zinger submits his OCI 2019-2020 Annual Report to the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety.  Page 18 is headed “Inmate Access to the Media.”

May 6, 2021 – Our letter to Anne Kelly questions the delay in publishing the new directive.

June 22, 2021 – Our letter to Ivan Zinger refers to the above letter, adding “I do expect you have not let this matter ‘slip through the cracks’”.

August 27, 2021 – Email from Stacie Ogg, OCI Deputy Director, writing on behalf of Ivan Zinger says their office is in contact with CSC and OCI will “provide additional information when there is more information to share.”

November 29, 2021 – Our letter to Marco Mendicino, copied to Anne Kelly, Ivan Zinger and Patrick White (Globe and Mail), again questions the delay with the revision.

February 8, 2022 – Email from Colette Cibula, Associate Assistant, Communications & Engagement, CSC, acknowledges our May 6 letter to Anne Kelly.  “The renewal of the directive…is still underway.  It was delayed as the tempo of media relations as well as the need for communications with inmates, staff, stakeholders increased significantly during the pandemic.  I can assure you that it is now nearly complete.  We have conducted external consultations and are finalizing internal reviews before publishing it.”

February 10, 2022 – Our email to Colette Cibula acknowledges her Feb. 8th.  “CSC has made a point of headlining transparency as you referenced and having Charter compliant policies is paramount to meeting that objective.  True accountability and transparency are only possible however if the offenders in your care have an equal opportunity to lawfully communicate with the world outside the walls.”

February 10, 2022 – We forwarded the above two emails to Stacie Ogg.  She replied that same day with thanks for the information.  “It is quite helpful.”

February 21, 2022 – Our letter to Marco Mendicino notes he did not respond to mine of November 29th and included this excerpt from Colette Cibula’s Feb. 8th email, “I can assure you that it (CD 022 revision) is now nearly complete.”  To the minister, “It is now approaching two years since the Service undertook to rewrite this directive.  It leads one to wonder just what it is that you all fear from inmate access to media?”

April 20, 2022 – Our access to information request asks, “what documentation do you have to show how many inmates were included in the communications, and the names of the institutions in which they are housed?” referring to Colette Cibula’s February 8 email.  (“The prison industry & media attention,” posted June 26, 2022, questioned CSC’s inmate inclusion in the communications for the CD 022 revision.  Colette Cibula responded on behalf of ATIP CSC on June 27 to say the communications referred to delays with the revision caused by messaging and materials to inmates regarding COVID-19.  As she put it, “I did not indicate in my message that inmates were among the people consulted in the revision of CD-22 Media Relations.”  A careful reading of her February 8 email would indicate she was correct, and we misinterpreted her meaning.  CSC does not consult inmates regarding policy, as we wrote.)

April 24, 2022 – Our email to Stacy Ogg, “Well, we’re still waiting, aren’t we?  Dr. Zinger, you, and the staff at OCI have boundless patience with CSC, don’t you.”

June 18, 2022 – Our letter to Colette Cibula, copied to Anne Kelly, Marco Mendicino and Stacie Ogg, reviewed our correspondence, referenced her February 8 email where the revision was “still underway,” was “nearly complete,” and that CSC was “finalizing internal reviews.” 
“I write simply to stress the interest some quarters in the community have for an imminent circulation of the revised CD,” we wrote.

June 27, 2022 – The Colette Cibula email referenced in the April 20 italicized paragraph above concluded with “CD-22 is in the final stages of approval before being published.”

July 8, 2022 – Another email to Stacie Ogg at OCI quoting Colette Cibula from February 8th “I can assure you that it (CD-022) is now nearly complete,” and “CD-22 is in the final stages of approval before being published” from June 27.
“Good gracious,” I wrote Stacie Ogg, “five months to go from ‘nearly complete’ to ‘final stages of approval.’”

July 28, 2022 – Letter from Colette Cibula in response to my June 18th.  “I am happy to commit to you, Mr. Klassen, to share with you the CD directly once is it promulgated.  In short order.”

There have been at least five entries on this one subject.  To date, there’s nothing to see.  What’s next?

 

 

Prisons & torture….still? Really?

(PLUS, A HEALTH CARE FOLLOW-UP)

“Why does Canada still allow torture?” questioned an editorial in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, August 10.

Authored by Catherine Latimer, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Canada, she began with Eddy Nalon, an inmate who bled to death in a segregation cell on that day in 1974 at Millhaven Penitentiary.  August 10 is commemorated every year since as Prisoners Justice Day.  Prisoners fast, refuse to work, and think about the men and women whose lives have been lost in Canada’s prison industry.

Prisoners knew long before science backed them up that prolonged solitary confinement is torture.  Courts in B.C. and Ontario ruled that indeterminate isolation was a Charter violation, and successful lawsuits awarded damages.  The United Nations called it cruel and a form of torture.  In response, Canada abolished legislation permitting administrative segregation in 2019, and ministers claimed this would end the practice.

Catherine Latimer says they were wrong.  She writes that solitary has worsened in the last two years, with dry celling, lockdowns, medical observation, and more.  Structured intervention units (SIUs) were touted as the solution to abusive confinement but only served to perpetuate it.  As she wrote, “the correctional investigator, auditor general, senators, and advocates have raised countless failings in our correctional system.  They are frustrated that recommended reforms have been ignored.”

Why?  We wrote her on August 11:-

Dear Executive Director Latimer:

Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear, and life stands explained.”

From my conversations with federal inmates, your question can be answered with Twain’s help.  When we remember that Correctional Service of Canada doesn’t care, the mysteries disappear, and our prison industry stands explained.

I hope this helps.

Does it help?  It doesn’t explain federal ministers’ lack of courage to stare down Correctional Service of Canada.  Shame on them, and shame on us for tolerating their apathy and indifference.

)()(

UPDATE:  “One prison……One health care follow-up” published August 28 was a compendium of the current health-care challenges facing Brennan Guigue, an inmate at the federal Port-Cartier Institution.

From that, “Kim Morin can’t overrule a doctor, acknowledged a review of the suboxone prescription is in order, but left this in Brennan’s hands.  He previously filed a complaint with Quebec’s College of Physicians, and I doubled down in our conversation later with Ms. Morin, suggesting another complaint would be filed if the doctor continued to defer.”

That second complaint was submitted on September 6th.  One week later, Brennan’s suboxone dosage was restored to where it had been some months prior.  He now no longer resorts to the institution’s black market to maintain the efficacy of the medication, a practice he did not hide from the prison’s staff and health-care unit.

Another point at issue was an order for a knee MRI that had been on Brennan’s file from two other prisons for at least two years, if not more.  Despite multiple requests for compliance, Port-Cartier’s health care unit declined/refused to acknowledge the order, telling him to use an access to information request to see the contents of the file, a process that could take months.

During this last week, Brennan met with the institution’s Dr. Roxanne Coté to discuss his suboxone routine.  She admitted the MRI order is on his file when he asked, but claimed it was appended only in January of 2021 which is incorrect, but even that concession is a victory.  Wait times in Quebec for an MRI are about a year according to the doctor, and he should expect to be called in the spring.  We’ll see.  He may still go ahead with his access to information request.

The doctor gave him an opportunity to address mental health and emotional issues.  It’s basic to medicine that drugs to counteract opioid addictions are partnered with counselling if positive results are expected.  He had previously been told that those services are triaged, which has meant he’s never had that support….ever.  Dr. Coté pointed to a specific program CSC has developed to meet his needs.  It’s just not available in his institution.  Yet.  No timeline, but that’s a subject for another day.

So, now there’s some action.  Wonder why.  Wonder too about the State’s good faith.

Soleiman Faqiri – No justice……

……YET! 

“For the third time, police have decided not to lay charges in the 2016 death of Soleiman Faqiri….who was severely beaten, restrained and pepper-sprayed by correctional officers in an Ontario jail….its latest review into Soleiman’s death once again found no evidence that a crime had been committed.”  Ben Cohen, Toronto Star, Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Star’s staff reporter is referring to the murder of a 30-year-old mentally ill man in his cell at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay on December 15, 2016.

OPP Detective Inspector Brad Collins wrote to the Faqiri family in February to say that even though a second post-mortem in 2021 by Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Pollanen determined Soleiman’s death was caused by jail guards, that didn’t change the OPP’s “prior investigative conclusions.”  “This is because there remains insufficient evidence to form the requisite grounds to believe a criminal offence has been committed by an individual of a group.”

This, quite simply, is cow cookies.

Faqiri family lawyer Nader Hasan said of the OPP investigation that: “They know that the guards used force unlawfully on Soleiman.  They know that the guards unlawfully confined Soleiman while they beat him.  They know that the guards killed him while committing these crimes.  Yet, the OPP continues to pretend that this is not murder.”

The question is why the obvious is not obvious?

This travesty prompted another letter to OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique, just as it did when the OPP declined to lay charges after their first investigation into Soleiman’s death.  On August 26, I wrote:-

“My experience monitoring our prison industry tells me there is one point about Soleiman’s treatment that hasn’t appeared in the public record.  The guards at the Central East Correctional Centre encountered difficulty in moving Soleiman from the shower to his cell on December 15, 2016.  They succeeded in time, and all that was left was to close the cell door.  There was no need for guards to be in his cell. 

Why were they there?  I know your experience tells you why, but I’ll put it down here anyway.

Guards were teaching Soleiman a lesson.  He had given them a problem and he couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

Every day in every provincial jail and federal prison in Canada, guards teach inmates a lesson.  It’s wrong, unwarranted, it’s illegal.  Sometimes an inmate is severely injured.  Sometimes an inmate loses his life.  An inmate such as Soleiman Faqiri.

It’s up to Soleiman Faqiri’s family and their supporters to demand accountability.  It’s up to you to protect uniforms.”

There’s a hope this gave Commissioner Carrique after-lunch indigestion.

Yusuf Faqiri is Soleiman’s oldest brother and the founder of ‘Justice for Soli.’  Toronto’s Globe and Mail published his op-ed on Tuesday, August 30, “My brother’s death shows that in this country, there are two systems of justice.”  Near the end he wrote: “We are now awaiting the coroner’s inquest, which will demonstrate even more clearly how the system failed Soli and my family.  We intend to be involved.”

There is no date for that inquest at this point.

I sent Yusuf an email asking if he had ever considered that the OPP may be under pressure from the provincial and federal governments to not lay charges.  After all, doing that would open a Pandora’s Box with consequences that would reverberate across the country.

The last Soleiman Faqiri posting here on January 31, 2021, “Restless in the grave,” referenced the family’s outstanding 14.3-million-dollar action against Ontario and some individuals involved in Soleiman’s murder.  That suit may have been settled.  It hasn’t been mentioned recently and would not likely be public knowledge if it was resolved.

Stay tuned.  ‘Justice for Soli’ isn’t going away.