Moral courage is a rarer commodity than physical courage

This is another narrative composed by Brennan Guigue while in the Toronto South Detention Centre in 2016. This was written in late February and early March, and underscores our folly in supporting a multi-billion dollar a year self-perpetuating and failed prison industry.

My life has been filled with pain, mistrust, and lies. Early on it was mostly ‘people’ offering me “things” for my own good with one hand…., and ‘slapping’ me with the other. I always fell for the ruse due to my need for acceptance and love/friendship. However, I soon developed a mistrust of authority and decided that I needed to look out for myself. My attitude was that most people just wanted whatever they could get from ‘you’, so why shouldn’t I?

I still felt the need for acceptance and all that, but it was significantly less of a feeling than before….actually, I’m not sure that’s true.

Even today it is still a very strong desire/need within myself. So much so that I often get into trouble because of it. I developed anger/behavioural problems early on as a result of being raped and forced to perform sexual acts by my biological father. I truly believe that had I been treated as a ‘sick’ child rather than a ‘bad’ child….I would NOT be where I am today.

The Crown Attorney talks about a Dangerous Offender application on the basis that……., there’s no place for someone who poses an undue risk like me in society. I ask you….how am I supposed to have the proper skills to function in any particular environment when I have NEVER truly felt a part of said ‘environment’?!

I cannot recall EVER not feeling like an outsider, always ‘looking in’. As a child, my favourite t.v. show was The Little House on the Prairie. Why…? Because, Mr. Ingalls was ALWAYS there for his children. He even took in a ‘wayward’ boy, and adopted him as his son…., was firm but loving.

Even at 10, 11, 12 years of age, I knew what was missing in my life. That knowledge did not help my outlook on life because I didn’t have the knowledge of how to fill that gap. I wanted a relationship with my dad SO bad that my mind repressed (overlooked) the abuse from my early years. The problem there was that he didn’t care about me enough to be around.

Of course that didn’t bother me whenever he did come around because I was so busy thinking how ‘cool’ he was – and how I desperately needed to prove that I was worthy of his love – that I forgot about all the rest. Not that I remembered the abuse at that age; that didn’t begin to come to light until my memories began unlocking themselves around age 21.

After he’d leave with promises to return, I’d be SO happy and proud to have him as my dad that my behaviour would excel. My grades/behaviour at school would drastically improve……, I was euphoric. Bliss.

But, time after time he’s let me down, and the anger would return and perhaps that’s why ‘those’ around me failed to see my pain. To think I was ‘bad’ rather than sick. Period of exceptional – gentlemanly – behaviour mixed with exemplary grades were not beyond my capabilities, and so no one bothered to acknowledge the need for therapy.

Of course, not having the trust in others nor the understanding of what was ‘wrong’ with me, coupled with my me-against-the-world attitude…., I could not ask for help. How could I….? From who….? Mom? She was a ROCK. STRONG. Sacrificing herself – while having issues of her own – in order to provide for three children could not have been easy for a single native woman on welfare.

However those same qualities that helped her – and by proxy, us – to survive prevented her from being the loving, cuddly mother who I could turn to. I now realize that she was my reference guide on how to survive-on-your-own. Her love – when it showed itself – was more like that love one shares with a good buddy.

The ONLY time I ever cried in front of her was whenever she was ‘tanning my behind’, which ceased when I was 12. I was too big (5’7”, 150lbs), it no longer had an effect on me anyway. The last time I was sent to my room for stealing a bag of weed and $40 from one of her friend’s house – to await my ‘whoopin’, – I ran away. At 12 years of age, I survived for 3½ weeks on the street before getting picked up by Hamilton cops and sent back home. That’s when my mom told me she wasn’t gonna bother with the strap anymore.

My father was still coming around every now and then, but was less and less because he was often involved with criminal endeavors which took him in and out of prison (dope selling and the violence associated). Whenever he did come around, he was distant and….., ‘overly generous’, would be the best way to describe him. I didn’t recognize his demeanor until well into adulthood (30s). It was his guilty conscience, the shame he felt about what he’d done to me….and the fear of confrontation which fuelled his generosity and buddy buddy attitude.

When he went to prison I was 15 (1985) and I became enraged at society, the cops, and anyone else in an authoritative capacity for ‘taking my dad away.’ In my sick, twisted sense of loyalty, I could not see that he never deserved such dedication from me….he hadn’t earned it as a father should.

In truth…., I had never ‘had’ him, to be taken away. As the dreams of my childhood drifted further and further away, I sought acceptance from any source I could. This often led me to hang out with older, more ‘seasoned’ bad kids…., even a few young adults. I began doing whatever they did, b & e’s, theft, drugs (did my first shot of cocaine with a needle at 16 with a 22 year-old junkie, Mario).

This was the end of my childhood….my innocence had been stolen loooong before. I just didn’t know it.

The only way to describe the next several years is to say that I drifted from place to place……from ‘being’ to being lost. I soon found myself in Toronto at age 18, again living with ‘unsavoury’ people. On the street doing dope – crack……, thinking I was ‘free’. This was clearly an illusion as I know now that I’ve always been in ‘prison’…, never truly ‘free’.

So I continued like this – becoming an addict, getting in wherever I could fit in, and living with an unconscious sense of self-loathing. One thing I do know is this…..nobody ever hurt me past the age of 12 more than I hurt myself.

When my father was sent to jail when I was 15 years old, I thought – in some maladaptive way – that it was somehow my fault. That, if I had been better behaved then he would have tried harder to be a better person….., a better father.

Yes, I was mad at the world, hated the ‘system’…., but, unwittingly the only one I could see to make suffer was myself. -Rewind-

I should point out some ‘truths’ as they are so that I don’t seem to be “self-pitying”. There were periods in my life where I may have been ‘saved’. From ages 13 to 16 there were a series of CAS interventions (if one can call them that), emotional treatment facilities, group homes, foster care placements, etc. In fact there was so much intervention from CAS through my entire life until the age of 17 that I had been to 18 different schools! In spite of that, I was only one year behind in my studies.

So, what went wrong you ask?

Well….., my anger issues were never properly addressed. Two of the five CAS/Family Court placements were mentally and physically abusive, and I witnessed emotional and sexual abuse. You must understand that it was the 80s. Many of the problems and deficiencies people recognize today were much more prevalent then….., and much less acknowledged back then.

 

……….END OF PART ONE.

Advertisements

The dark side…a glimpse

Now that Brennan Guigue is no longer under the Ontario provincial jail system’s control, we can open a Pandora’s box on life ‘down inside’ the Toronto South Detention Centre.

TSDC is one of two newer provincial institutions (the other is in Windsor) allowing only video link visits. It’s expected to be a template for the future. An approved visitor arrives at a pre-booked time, is screened, and then waits at an assigned video booth, one of about 70. The screen comes on at the appointed time, and hopefully the inmate is sitting at the video booth on his range, because a timer is counting down the 20 allotted minutes. Communication is by hand-held telephone receiver, and both parties have a colour head and shoulder view of one another.

This is a novelty at first, and technical problems are common, but reception staff does its best to accommodate visitor and inmate. In the end, there is no comparison between a Skype-type visit and an in-person face to face conversation through plexi-glass and metal bars, as is the case at other Ontario jails. Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services has in fact abandoned the concept of the beneficial ties to the community for inmates, even if it continues to pay lip service to the premise.

Brennan Guigue was held at Toronto South from late November of 2015 to the third week of January of 2017, when he was transferred to Toronto East Detention Centre. That is a story for another time. There is a world of difference though between the TSDC operation and Toronto East, a point we’ll repeat more than once. For now though, this documents a visit to Toronto South on Saturday, September 3rd in 2016, and the follow-up over the ensuing months…..and, we’ll switch to the first person.

The appointment was for 10am that day, Brennan appeared on screen promptly and my notes say he’d spent the first part of the morning reading, was awakened from a nap for the visit, and was a little groggy. I asked early on if he needed money in his canteen account. He didn’t know and excused himself to check his balance at the control post.

Each range has a ‘bubble’ where the guards oversee their charges; a computer terminal there has the information Brennan needed. He went to the window and asked his question. One of the four guards in the post, one with red hair and a prosthetic leg, told him to “get away from the window, you f——g piece of shit.” Brennan objected to the language, he didn’t deserve the response, and he said so.

He was quiet and a little perturbed when he returned to the video booth. I had to prod him into telling me what had happened.

As it turned out, after the visit that same guard came on to the range to put him back in his cell. He was itching to coerce Brennan into some retaliatory action, a not uncommon practice with some guards in our ‘prison industry’, but Brennan wouldn’t take the bait. The next day, a sergeant showed up at his cell, charging him with a misconduct for threatening. Brennan filed a grievance. On one of my later visits, on September 30, Brennan said that same guard was on duty but was very, very quiet. He assumed the guard had been given a copy of his complaint.

Why would a guard do this? Draw your own conclusions. How do they get await with it? One, who’s going to complain, and two, management turns a blind eye.

Not to let this go, I filed a freedom of information request with the ministry’s North Bay address, an office dedicated to this purpose. I asked for the names and i.d. tag numbers of the guards on duty on that range when the September 3rd incident occurred.

After a time, North Bay came back with two names:

William Thompson, #11557
Ronald Shapiro, #009922

But, there were four guards in the control post. Perhaps there should have been only two, but there were four at that time, on that date. I filed an appeal with Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. North Bay went back to Toronto South for a clarification and eventually reported back to the IPC that the TSDC Deputy Superintendent in charge of security had reviewed the tape of the control post and saw only two guards.

Brennan contends that is a lie.

I then asked North Bay for a copy of that tape. My request could not be granted because the jail retains their tapes for only 30 days.

I went on to ask for the identity of the guard with red hair and a prosthetic. I was denied that information as too sensitive and personal, and that “disclosure would reasonably be expected to facilitate the commission of an unlawful act or hamper the control of crime.”

We can assume that William Thompson and Ronald Shapiro were assigned for duty on that range on September 3rd, and that one of them is red-headed, and has a prosthetic leg.

Let’s leave that behind. We’ll move on to something else soon.

Another look………

..….at life inside the Toronto South Detention Centre

The purpose of these narratives is not to illicit any sympathy for the inmates being housed at this (and many others like it) facility, but instead to show the hypocrisy (as with any governmental ‘institution’) which permeates through this ‘environment’. What ‘they’ tell ‘you’ about the running of this place is a FAR CRY from the truth of what actually goes on.

This is mostly about the guards. The support staff trying to do good within these walls tend to be hobbled in their efforts by the Security Department and the bureaucracy which accompanies it. ‘Security’ has VETO powers on all things pertaining to inmates…..everything. From the fact that there is no real complaint/grievance process available to inmates all the way down to not being allowed to possess personal toothpaste while on disciplinary L.O.A.P. status in segregation. (Editor’s note: Although L.O.A.P. was ended by a MCSCS policy change as of October 16-17, 2016, it seems that not all guards got the memo.) Some of the rules change with every shift, many times the laying of a misconduct against an inmate depends on the guard working that day, and whether he/she likes or dislikes the inmate in question. There is no real consistency in it at all…..AND, the same applies to whether said inmate is sent to segregation.

I have seen – and experienced – guys who were sent to segregation for the most minor, barest of infractions, while others have remained on the Unit (albeit locked in their cell) after throwing violent temper tantrums, or having been found with large home-brews and various other forms of contraband in their possession/or cells.

The thing that most people in the community tend not to realize is that the guards who work here are human beings and so are not immune to the character flaws which are a trait to all.

There are all the same – but more so – faults among them such as laziness, revenge, vindictive personalities, holier-than-thou attitudes, jealousy, insecurity (many feel they must assert their authority out of a sense of inadequacy…..as proof of their manhood. The female staff do it to prove they measure up.)….anything you can think of. It exists among many (majority) of the guards here.

At times, I wonder if all of the unpopular, bullied, or picked-on kids from high school signed up to be guards. Then you’ve got the ‘wannabe’ cops with their….,’you’re-all-pieces-of-shit” attitudes, or the ex-military types who – in their robot-like ways – just fall into line with whatever they’re told.

Some break the law by smuggling drugs, denying basic human rights, and, in some cases, assaults on inmates (although that’s less frequent than in the past due to the installation of the many surveillance cameras throughout the building). Although there are ‘blind spots’….., just order the inmate to step to the back wall of the cell before you punch him in the face.

I see – and have been subjected to – the petty whims of guards who will routinely withhold an inmate’s food and showers….even toilet paper, for days at a time!

For those of you who may think….”so what, they’re a bunch of criminals anyway”, you’re forgetting that it’s not about them as I said. It’s about this being a “correctional” centre, touting top-of-the-line medical facilities, inmate recreational and rehabilitation programs. “So stay outta jail”……you say. Well, as much as we’d all like to live in such a society where there is no need of ‘jails’…..unfortunately such an utopia is unlikely to come ‘round any time soon.

So, in the meantime……send all of your criminals, mentally ill, emotionally scarred addicts, and whichever ‘undesirables’ society deems as ‘riff-raff’ into these so-called Correctional Centres to be mistreated and further damaged.

Truly….prison guards believe themselves to be of a special breed, guardians watching over the worst society has to offer. While in some cases (admittedly many) this may be true….in far too many cases one finds it hard to distinguish who is worse.

A few days ago, I saw three large men (175 lbs. plus) wrestling a little old man (couldn’t have been younger than 70), maybe 5’6”, 140-150 lbs. into a segregation cell. All the while pleading with them from the wheelchair and beyond….., “please stop, I just need my pills!” Believe what I say or not…., but it’s no exaggeration!

Or, what about the schizophrenic guy who was charged with obstruction of justice because when the cops stopped him, he gave the name of one of his alter egos instead of his real one (and who’s to say that – according to him – the name he gave wasn’t his real one?) He’s now being housed in a segregation cell two doors down from me…..should he be ridiculed and called a ‘cry baby’ simply because he spends most of his time crying and asking to “please be allowed to go home.” He’s been in that cell for 17 days….(24 on 24!).

As much as you’d like to scoff at these stories…., or suggest that they must be fabrications, or – at best – exaggerations, you’re only making assumptions…., they couldn’t possibly be true, could they? Couldn’t they?

Uh…..hellooo? The subjugation of the weak by the strong, the rich over the poor, is a human trait! No….? Pick up any history book…..or even your daily newspaper…, ‘get yur head outta yur ass and take an honest look around!’ What would you do if you saw an elderly man being manhandled by three much younger, larger, and stronger men on the street? Or, what would you feel if you saw a pathetic, mentally ill man or woman crying for help to “go home”?

Would you try to help that elderly man….., would you have sympathy for that desperate, crying person…?

So why should ANY rational HUMAN BEING feel any different because those ‘people’ exist in society’s waste baskets? And, do you think these injustices (those who live them and those who witness them), and inhumane practices make the people ‘coming out’ better or worse? Or how about from the opposite angle…., if you can agree that having a sense of humanity for all, sharing kindness with others, and doing charity can make a person feel better in life…., wouldn’t it stand to reason then that doing the opposite of those same things will invariably have a negative impact on a person’s outlook on the world, and themselves?

I’m not saying that guards/staff ‘round here need to pamper anyone, but – HOLY! – with some of the things I’ve witnessed and personally experienced….., one must wonder what effect some of the behaviours have on the practitioner.

Is it really possible to ‘turn off’ when at work, then ‘turn on’ at home….., how long before it takes a toll?

And, how are any of the ‘sufferers’ supposed to ‘keep their chin up’ when they’re constantly being beaten down?

There is NOTHING correcting about corrections!

Quote of the day……
“Strength lies unseen in many unexpected places; it merely awaits the right key to release it.”

Everything these people teach their children about right and wrong, good and bad…..truth and lies means nothing in their dealings with ‘you’….’you’ are sub-human so a lie is not a lie, an injustice is not so when levied against ‘you’/’us’…..it’s okay.

…..written by Brennan Guigue, and dated March 3, 2016

Editor’s note: This is only a brief capsule of conditions inside Toronto South Detention Centre, and Brennan Guigue has recalled just a few to make his point. Don’t look at TSDC as a template for the many other MCSCS institutions in Ontario, though. While abuses of power and questionable practices can be experienced elsewhere and to varying degrees, the dynamics at TSDC make it a stand-out.

A day in the life…a conclusion…of a sort…

…..at Toronto South Detention Centre

Brennan Guigue is now sitting in segregation. The staff members involved have not followed sanctioned procedures, they know that but don’t care. There is no level of accountability, no transparency, and no concern for adherence to their oaths of office.

To continue………

Let’s jump back to Monday, February 22, for a second.
I was admitted to segregation at around 11am. Seven hours later, CO McCormick shows up to inform me that upon conducting a search in my cell, he found three items of contraband: l, “brew”, 2. tobacco-like substance (dried banana peel), 3. metal spring.

When Sgt. Tsenga and CO McCormick came into my cell in the morning, they came right into my cell. There was no indication of “brew”, there was no smell, nothing. The dried banana peel was chewed up and resting in a bowl out in plain sight. Why would I think to hide it? It’s only dried banana. As for the metal spring, where the hell am I gonna get a spring from? Nuts!

When I left my cell 7 hours earlier, there was NOT a “brew” in my cell. When my cell was searched at 4 – 4:30am that very morning, there was no “brew” in my cell. Between then and when I left my cell for segregation, I was not ever out of my cell (locked).

When I mentioned this to Sgt. John Edgington, he implied that some inmates figure putting down a “brew” right after a search is the perfect time.

Fair enough.

I put in a request to question the CO making the allegation, as is my RIGHT.
I had three simple question to ask him:
1. You say you found “brew” in my cell?
2. What constitutes a “brew”, as far as you know?
3. How do you know it was “brew” that you found?

He (McCormick) came to my cell accompanied by Cpt. Sellick, Sgt. Edgington, and one other CO as a witness.
I asked my three questions.

His answers were:
1. “Yes, I found a bag of ‘brew’ in you cell.”
2. “A brew is usually juice, water, sugar, bread & some fruit put together to make home wine”
3. “I knew it was home wine because I could smell its fermentation; it was rancid.”
So, you’re saying that it was definitely fermented? “Yes.” “OK, thanks.”

My argument is this:
There is no way that I could put together a bag of water, juice, bread (yeast), sugar and fruit, having NOT ever been out of my cell from the time of the early morning search, and when I left for segregation….and have it ‘ferment’ to a state of rancidness. It’s impossible to ferment it by that process in five hours. It needs at least a couple of days to ‘turn-over.’ Sgt. Edgington supported this logic as he professes to have a small home micro-brewery. He knows the process. I further argued that since the ‘servers’ (inmate trustees of a type) were out on the range, my cellie could’ve had it passed to him through the door hatch. After ALL of my explanations, and reasonable arguments….., Cpt. Sellick found my guilty of all allegations. Sentenced to another 10 days, but on LOAP (loss of all privileges).

Why did I even waste my breath?

Here we have a “hearing” (yeah right, a hearing is supposed to imply there’s a 3rd impartial and unbiased party adjudicating over the proceedings….., no?) I present my arguments… now here I sit 20 days in segregation, I. for an assault I didn’t commit, 2. and for a “brew” I knew nothing about.

To make matters worse, Sgt. Edgington took it upon himself to begin my LOAP sentence immediately (it’s not supposed to come in effect ‘til the 5th, I’m writing this on the 2nd and my LOAP began on he 1st. So then, I should be done on the 14rh, right?

So finally, after a week of all this bullshit, I finally snap. I tell Sgt. Edgington that neither he nor any of his staff have any integrity. I call him a piece of shit and mock for teaching his children to be honest and truthful, and then he comes to work and turns into an asshole……hypocrite! I ranted and raved for a week’s work of frustration and ill treatment. It lasted about 20 minutes before I was able to calm down.

Now today, the 2nd, I cannot get anything from the staff. No lawyer’s call. No request forms. No envelopes. NOTHING!

I got some toilet paper, but it took three hours of “please and thank you” and even then it was given begrudgingly.

So now I’m sitting in segregation, no mattress, no telephone, no shower, no envelope for lawyer’s letters. NOTHING. All because of things I did NOT do. By the way, Sgt. Boccega found me guilty on the assault misconduct after she took into account staff comments.

Who was the “staff” in question?…….Guess.

Why, CO Casciani with a grudge against me for not allowing her to bully me.
Hey….I dropped out of high school in grade 10. While I was there, I was one of the ‘cool’ kids…my, how the mighty have fallen.

Someone should tell CO Casciani that just because she had no friends or voice in high school, she does not have the right to take it out on us. Does she feel so inadequate, or insecure, that she feels it necessary to come to work and beat us down, just to give herself a sense of importance?
Really?
How pathetic is that!

I feel sorry for her.

Yes! I’m venting.

P.S. Let me tell you about doing time in the ‘hole’ at the Toronto South Detention Centre. Just one thing can sum it up, maybe two…..

First, you have guards laying fabricated misconducts which are then investigated by other guards, THEN yet another guard adjudicates the inmate arbitrarily, finding him guilty, and then that same guard passes down a sentence.

That’s like cops investigating cops….and we all know how that usually goes.

Secondly, now you are in segregation serving your sentence. LOAP means that you get nothing but the barest minimums, a “low mattress” (it’s no more than a padded blanket), 2 blankets, toilet paper, only religious books – Quaran, Bible, etc., MAYBE a pencil and paper. I was lucky to have already had these things.

Get this. Every day with every meal we are given a hot beverage of some sort….coffee, tea, powdered juice packet, sugars, and powder creams. But here’s the joke….NO CUPS. Then when these things build up in your cell….they accuse you of hoarding, which is yet another violation of the rules, and open to contraband misconducts.

Cool, eh?

MADNESS!

…..written by Brennan Guigue, and dated Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Editor’s note: This is only one incident with one inmate in one Ontario penal institution. It speaks for itself. There will be more to come in time, but what’s in the last three posts could be repeated endlessly with numerous prisoners. Brennan Guigue has chosen to share what he’s witnessed, what he’s had to accommodate. His voice echoes through the ranges of Ontario’s many jails, and the corridors of the ministry’s building on Grosvenor Street in Toronto. Who’s paying attention?
A note of one recent change by the ministry. LOAP (loss of all privileges) was a medievalist measure, punitive and counterproductive…..an October 17, 2016 directive ended the practice. Compliance is anticipated.

A day in the life….goes on and on….

…..at Toronto South Detention Centre

CO Casciani and Sgt. Tsenga have moved Brennan Guigue and his cell mate for no apparent or genuine reason other than “maintenance”, which we know is bogus. Brennan’s in cell #5, bunking with Michael Saraphin. We pick it up from there.

It’s Friday, February 19, 2016 at 7:15pm

Now, I’ve seen Mike on the unit, but we have never spoken. He keeps to himself is mostly quiet. I think it’s not too bad….WRONG!
By Saturday afternoon, Mike has filled me in on most – if not all – of the aspects (according to him) of current incarceration.
According to him, the provincial welfare (OW) office is defrauding him of due dollars, forging cheque stubs/payments for food, travel, etc.
Anyway, Mike is convinced that he has been wronged and the current issue (of many) presently is that he refuses to sign a rental agreement form in order to receive about $500 more than what he currently receives from ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Plan). He feels it would be a violation of his privacy rights.

For the last 5 years or so, he has been engaged in a personal battle with the Wellesley/Jarvis OW office, City Hall, even as high as the Ontario Premier’s office.
He has sent accusatory letters to ALL. So many in fact that he has previously been charged with criminal harassment, AND is currently back in jail for the same, as he has refused to comply with a court ordered ‘cease and desist’ order.

When I say this guy’s got a SERIOUS glitch goin’ on, I ain’t kiddin! Hundreds of letters…..to ALL members of city council, even to Kathleen Wynne’s office.
Now, I think I’m a pretty intelligent guy and the more I listened to his argument, the more holes I begin to see in his theory.

So I asked him….”What do you want to accomplish with your…..campaign?”
He says he wants them to publicly acknowledge that he was in fact defrauded, an overhaul of the welfare system (as the corruption is systemic)….AND, he wants financial compensation for the past 5 years of unpaid monies he feels he’s owed!

HOLY!….is this guy for real?

Many of the questions I put to him, he avoids. The more I challenge his ideology, the more upset he becomes. I tell him that after 5 years of battling without results, maybe it’s time to move on….

NOPE!

So then, I point out that what he’s asking for is too much….NEVER gonna happen. Look at yourself….in jail just to prove a point? Crazy! He does NOT like talking to me.
We end the conversation and he goes to bed. Sunday morning, we wake up for breakfast and he begins to question me as to how much ‘damage’ I think he’ll endure before the guards come and break up the fight? I tell him I don’t know, probably just 1 or 2 punches before the guards intervene…..why?

Then it occur to me…..’This guy wants to further his position of being a victim, and strengthen his argument that the city, and the government are targeting him simply because he’s standing up to a corrupt system.’ The cops kicked in his door, beat him up, dragged him – in handcuffs – off to jail unlawfully, and now his personal safety has been put at risk, as he is being housed with violent criminals! When I put this to him, he admits that ‘it’s an idea’. He had court in a week (February 29th) so time was short, and he had to execute his plan soon.

We talked about who would be the best to pick a fight with; you know, minimal damage and all that. I told him, “I don’t know, but whatever you do, PLEASE DON’T PICK ME! I’ve got too much to worry about with facing possible D.O. status, and I don’t need no misconducts for fighting or assault.” He doesn’t respond.

I lay down for an afternoon nap; he paces in the cell…..brooding.
Dinner comes. He starts asking me about segregation. Is it quiet, do you get your own cell, what’s the easiest way to get there, etc.?
I begin to answer some of his questions, but in the end I tell him to leave me alone, and I go stand by the cell door to watch the Raptors game.

He’s still pacing….brooding.

Suddenly he comes to the door. I give him a bit of space. He calls through the hatch that he want to get out of this cell. I ask him why does he want to leave……”Because I don’t want to get beat up!” “Who’s gonna beat you up? Yur crazy!”

So, the cleaner goes and alerts the guard (CO Casciani) that my cellie wants out. When she comes to the cell, I’m standing by the door and he’s just about finished gathering up his belongings.

He leaves the cell.

Ten minutes later, CO Casciani and another officer come back to my cell and ask me, why did I push my cell partner?
“Hey, hey…..I didn’t touch him!”
“Well, he says you assaulted hime and I wanna find out what happened.”
“Nothing happened. He’s a bug!”

So, then I quickly explain to her—-I fill out an inmate statement form regarding the situation as I see it.

Nonetheless, CO Casciani clearly disregards my explanation – clearly holding a grudge due to our previous encounter – and places me on lockup status pending investigation. No mention of a misconduct per se.

Monday rolls around and Sgt. Tsenga informs me that I will be moving to seg “pending misconduct.” As you can imagine, I was NOT (am not) a happy camper, especially when I know exactly what game Mike is playing. CO Casciani is just loving it. I can tell by the smirk on her face.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my cell got searched – no, ransacked – that morning at 4 – 4:30am February 22 by three officers and a captain no less. They searched so well that it took an hour to clean up.

So now I get down to segregation……now I am not the most cheerful of persons on the best of days, and this day my mood is sour. But whatever, I figure they’ll check the cameras and see that I’ve done nothing and let me go…..right?

WRONG AGAIN!

Two days later, February 24, Sgt. Boccega comes to my cell and tells me that she has found me guilty of the misconduct for assaulting my cell mate, and she has sentenced me to 10 days closed confinement. “Ya don’t say!” She then handed me the decision sheet, as well as the Misconduct Notice sheet which I was supposed to receive, quote “prior to the misconduct investigation.” Nobody interviewed me, nobody informed me that I was even on a misconduct. I was told by Sgt. Tsenga that I was being put in segregation “pending an investigation.”

Suddenly, without notice, I find myself being found guilty for an assault I did not commit. Mike had no injuries, there was absolutely no evidence to support the claim. Yet, I’m guilty? Where am I…..the TWILIGHT ZONE? No adherence to policy, no due process, nothing. WOW! Okay….so what. Ten days. No problem.

…..written by Brennan Guigue, and dated Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Editor’s note: It would be incorrect to label practices at the Toronto South Detention Centre (“The $1-billion hellhole”) as consistently contrary to Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services policies, or to colour all staff members with the same brush. However, it would be an understatement to say aberrations are prevalent. After all, the TSDC is one institution that has prompted the many lawsuits which the Ontario government is now facing.

This narration concludes with the next posting.

A day in the life…….

….. at Toronto South Detention Centre

The only place to begin is from what I believe to be the beginning.

The first time I ever came into contact with CO Casciani was sometime during the start of the week of 2016/02/13 – 20.  My schizophrenic cell mate was stressing out and wanted to leave the cell.  He expressed his wish to her and other COs working the unit (A4-B) when he left the cell to receive his methadone medication.

She had accompanied Sgt. Lawrence to my cell as he wanted to question me in regards to my cell mate wanting to vacate the cell.  The tone of St. Lawrence’s questioning was such that I felt as though he believed I was bullying, or intimidating, my cell mate in such a way as to cause him to be in fear of me…..”why is he afraid to come back to the cell?…what did you do to him?….etc., etc.”

I informed Sgt. Lawrence that I could not understand why my ‘cellie’ wanted to leave, other than the fact that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic.  Who knows what’s happening in his head?  I am not a doctor and therefore do not have the training, nor the desire for that matter, even to hazard a guess as to the motivation behind his decision.

I honestly thought we were getting along pretty good in the cell.  He had no money so I shared my canteen with him, I practiced a certain level of patience with him in the sense that as long as he agreed to shower at least once a day, and wasn’t too messy, we would get along just fine.  Also, we had agreed that I would tell him if I felt he was getting a little ‘lost’ in his ‘crazy talk’.  It was a good arrangement.  He slept for nearly three days straight, was relatively quiet, and as ‘cellies’ go, I felt he was a pretty good one.  He didn’t even snore!

As amiable as things were in the cell, there were times when his condition was apparent.  Whenever I noticed this I would engage him in conversation, or some sort of card game (crazy 8s or fishy fishy), or a board game.  Chess or backgammon were not above his intellect but his disorder made it difficult for him to concentrate.  I kept things simple, with simple games.  We settled on checkers.  Also, the institution is usually on lockdown status most weekends and the longer we remained locked in the cell, the more stressed out he got.

I have my own mental health issues – & my own stressors to deal with – and he was becoming more and more erratic (manic) which was beginning to affect my mood.   I’ve got only so much patience.  The day before he actually moved out (Sun. 13th Feb.), I had expressed my concerns to the officer on duty, and he also felt frustration about ‘Special Needs’ inmates being housed with ‘regular’ inmates.  Yes.  I was once classified ‘Special Needs’, but – after meds were regulated properly – later deemed ‘high functioning’ and so cleared from that status.

Anyway, back to what I was saying…….

I did have conversations with my “cellie” about what was bothering him and he kept saying…., “it’s nothing to do with you….I just need to be alone.”  Clearly, he was having issues regarding ‘personal space’.  I tried my best to calm his concerns but in the end (Mon, Feb. 14/16) he elected to leave.

So that was that.  CO Casciani later came to unlock for range activities and informed me that my “cellie” did NOT in fact say that he was ‘in fear of me’, but that he just wanted to be alone.  I asked her why Sgt. Lawrence would come to me from that angle…she had no answer

The next time I was the given the opportunity to see CO Casciani’s personality was later in the week (about 1 or 2 days later).  She was aggressively confronting another inmate who had become upset due to the fact that he did not receive a pair of institutional rec. shorts.  She aggressively crowded his personal space, locking eyes with him, slapping books & papers out of his hand, and physically pushing him toward his cell.  All the while yelling orders to go to his cell.  It was so intense that I honestly thought the inmate was going to punch her in the face or something….I was waiting for it.

I’ve got 21 years of federal time under my belt, probably another 5 -6 years throughout the provincial system.  Where I’ve been guards do not initiate contact with irate inmates; if anything they’re supposed to step back, charge their pepper spray canister, then issue at least 3 direct orders to comply.  If not, then the CO may give a warning that if the inmate does not cease and desist, a chemical agent will be used against him.

As far as I know from experience, (although I could be wrong), these procedures, or the like, are pretty accurate.  As far as I know, guards are not instructed to confront an angry inmate in an aggressive, confrontational manner which may escalate the situation.  Guards surely are not instructed to initiate aggressive contact (by slapping gathered items out of his hands).  He was simply gathering his personal items off the table, in the process of complying with her demands.  I guess he wasn’t moving fast enough.

I realize that this seems long-winded and tedious, but for me it’s therapeutic.  However, I do believe the effort to enlighten you on CO Casciani’s personality is relevant, as you will need to understand her in order to understand my experience in dealing with her.

So now it’s Friday, 19th February morning and I am in my cell cleaning my toilet (I bail out the water and wash the bowl with a rag…by hand).

There I am, sitting on the floor, soapy rag in my hand, soap suds up to my elbows (almost), washing my toilet.  When CO Casciani comes to unlock for range activities, she opens my door and asks, “What are you guys smoking in here?”  I look her dead in the eye, from my position on the floor in front of the toilet, and say – rather sardonically – “Really, do you see anybody smoking?”
“Well, you musta lit something because I smell smoke!”
“I don’t know, do you smell tobacco?  Do you smell marijuana?”
Still sitting on the floor in front of a soapy toilet, with her standing in my cell having an unobstructed view of exactly what I am doing….”look, if you think we’re up to something then come and search, you’re the one in charge”

Suddenly, she stars yelling at me….
“I’M ASKING YOU A QUESTION!!’

“Who the hell are you yelling at?  Don’t yell at me, that’s not how to get things done.  You’re not gonna bully me.  I see what you do with other inmates, don’t try to muscle me!  It ain’t happenin.”  She then stops out of my cell, closes the door and says, “muscle away”, just before she locks it.

So now, I’m locked up for the afternoon.  I try to reason with the other officer as he does his round, but there’s NO WAY one CO is gonna override the decision of another CO for the sake of the inmate, regardless of right or wrong.  Later that evening, CO Casciani showed up at my door with Sgt. Tsenga to inform my cell partner (new one) and I that maintenance needs to do some work on this cell, and we’ll both have to move to different cells.  We pack up and move.  He goes to #10, and I go to #5.  No problem

The vacated cell was #12 – A4-B.

I recognize this as just another example of CO Casciani’s I’m-the-boss attitude flexing her authority over me, but I say nothing.  I do however ask Sgt. Tsenga what’s wrong with the cell?  The door/lock work find, window’s okay, same with the sink/toilet…why are you really moving us?  No response given other than previously…..”maintenance.”

So now the ‘fun’ really begins….they put me in cell #5 with a guy named Michael Saraphin (Sarafin?).

…..written by Brennan Guigue, and dated Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Editor’s note:  We submitted an access to information request on May 6th of 2016….”It was not obvious or apparent that Cell 12 was in need of the maintenance attention.  Please supply a copy of the maintenance report relating to the February 19, 2016 evacuation of Cell 12, Range A4-B.”
A response from the ministry dated June 1 …..”Please be advised that access to the requested records cannot be granted, as the information does not exist.  Experienced staff familiar with the record holdings of the Ministry conducted a records search at the Toronto South Detention Centre. No responsive records were located.”

In other words, civil servants CO Casciani and Sgt. Tsenga lied.  Why?  Stay tuned.

WARS OF MY WORLD – A PROLOGUE

It’s dinner time and he’s gonna be late……playing football with his friends in the park – he lost track of time. Huffing and puffing from rushing, he steps into the crowded elevator….#6 is already pressed.

Almost immediately, he spots a face he recognizes, and is always glad to see. It wasn’t too hard to notice the figure as he stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Then again, everybody is tall to an 8 year old! The tall dark figure and the Boy lock eyes, and the Boy obviously wants to acknowledge the man; however, he discourages the Boy by placing an extended index finger to his puckered lips…….shhhh. The Boy understands….and says nothing.

By this time, the elevator has reached the 4th, 5th floor and has emptied out somewhat; only the tall dark figure, the Boy and a couple of people remain. The 6th, 7th, and 11th floor buttons are still pressed. Noticing this, the Boy is perplexed because he knows that his building is the 2nd of two towers and is still under construction (“finishing”) from the 10th floor up to the top. The man sees this in the Boy’s eyes and when the 6th floor arrives, a discreet hand is placed on his shoulder indicating he is to remain. The Boy does not exit the elevator.

As the door closes behind the last of the passengers, the Boy questions the Familiar Man. “Hey, where are we going? We can’t go past the 10th floor. Mom’ll give me a ‘whoopin’……AND, I gotta be home for dinner!” “It’s okay, I’ll talk to your mom. D’ya wannna see what’s going on upstairs?” Excited at the prospect of exploring a construction site, and the added thrill of venturing into the forbidden….what 8 year old boy could resist?

With late dinner times and the threat of a tanned behind (Mom’s favourite term, “I’ll tan that ass, boy.”) forgotten, the Boy readily agrees to embark on the adventure. Besides, he feels comfortable and safe in the company of the `Familiar Man`, AND he`s agreed to speak on the boy`s behalf with Mom.

When the evevator door opens on the 11th floor the Boy is in wonderment at what he sees. It`s as if he has stepped out into a completely different world than the one which exists on the floors below. It`s a world filled with various tools and saws, hanging plastic sheets, and doorless apartments, unfinished marble floors….and everything covered in a fine white dust. Awesome!

However, not allowing the Boy free reign to explore, the Familiar Man leads the Boy to a small room, a garbage chute, lays the Boy down on the floor, pulls his pants and Superman underwear down to just below his buttocks. The Familiar Man lowers his own pants, and while the Boy lays on his belly on the floor of an apartment building garbage room, he is raped by the Familiar Man!

Afterwards, not understanding what has just happened, the Boy doesn`t really know how to feel. He finds himself suddenly alone on the 11th floor, alone to fix his clothes, alone to put himself back together….., alone to find his way back down to the 6th floor…..,and, alone to explain the white, chalky dust which completely covers his clothing. Explaining the state of his clothes is going to be tough as he is wearing a dark blue K-Way jacket, and a pair of black nylon Parachute pants.

Knowing he can`t tell his mother he`d been up to the 11th floor as she had explicitly forbidden him from going up there, knowing how boys are. Besides, the Familiar Man told me [sic] not to mention our [sic] little adventure to anyone, as he could get into a lot of trouble if anyone knew he`d brought a boy up there.

Worried and scared at what would happen when he got home, the Boy knew there was nothing to do but go home and face his mother. He did his best to clean up, and left the 11th floor garbage room behind.

As expected, “playing with friends“ didn`t fool Mom. She knew exactly where the white dust came from and, as promised proceeded to `tan my ass`.

Later, with an empty belly, and a sore butt, the Boy feels frustrated and angry at being left in the lurch by the Familiar Man who`d promised to advocate on his behalf, and save him from the `whoopin` he knew he was gonna get.

He didn`t know it at the time, but the Boy would come to understand that his feeling would become recognizable as betrayal.

Also, that anger and frustration would become the two most prevalent emotions in his life.

….written by Brennan Guigue, and dated Sunday, December 6, 2015