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

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

November 12, 2018

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

Re: Representation to Visitor Review Board re November 9 PFV

Correctional Manager Lollar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles H. Klassen

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

)()(

November 11, 2018

MILLHAVEN INSTITUTION THREE-DAY PFV WITH BRENNAN GUIGUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Toronto Sun Editor………

……Brennan Guigue comments.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Khadr settlement has nothing to do with Omar Khadr……it has to do with Canada’s complicity in the torture of a human being.

Ottawa is apologizing for its lack of adherence to the values Canadians profess to hold dear.

Get off this trip about the soldiers who died by his actions. When U.S. Marines went into that house, they went in with guns blazing. Khadr’s throwing of the grenade was simply the knee- jerk reaction of a scared 15 year-old kid.

Why isn’t it okay to argue that kids of his age are not capable of making rational adult decisions as their brains have still more development to undergo?

He’s an adult now because he was held in an adult prison – which was infinitely worse than the public was led to believe – and subjected to devastating mental, emotional, AND (yes) physical torture – for several years of his childhood.

Is it so hard to believe that a smart, manipulative, scheming adult couldn’t have indoctrinated a young, impressionable teenager into believing he was involved in something honourable or righteous?

No?

Okay…..then if a 25, 26, or even 30 year-old has sex with a 16 year-old girl because……she wanted to, why do we condemn the man involved as a predator, or rapist?

Double standard……?

After all, EVERY single person in uniform going into a HOT ZONE EXPECTS TO BE IN THE LINE OF FIRE!

They, as adults, enter into that risk freely and willingly, knowing their enemy is NOT going to be throwing tulips at them.

Geeze…..!

I am not trying to diminish the sympathies felt for the family and friends of the deceased soldier….they are no doubt suffering for their loss.

I just think everyone should keep things in perspective.

Also…..

The lack of financial support for our physically and mentally wounded veterans should not be placed at the feet of Omar Khadr….that problem existed long before he came along.

Once again though, here’s the Toronto Sun, Liberal-hating RAG of a newspaper, distracting people from serious issues.

Enough already!

Oh, by the way……

I have been meaning to ask you, Mr. Editor, why aren’t you advocating for a national day of mourning for all the wrongfully convicted, or all those who’ve been murdered by police?

Hey….I don’t anticipate a worthwhile response……., just curious.

No vigilance. No democracy.

A letter went out to the Parole Board of Canada’s office in Abbotsford, British Columbia in the spring of last year with a comment on a recent decision the board made. We weren’t critical of its work but rather offered an opinion on an issue raised around the efficacy of programs available in our federal prison system.

The regional manager replied by email, apologizing for not using regular post as he preferred to make an immediate response. The board was thankful for the input, asked if the letter could be shared with stakeholders, and fundamentally supported what we had to say.

As well, this parole board member noted how much he agreed with the footer on our letterhead…….No vigilance. No democracy.

Barack Obama’s farewell address from Chicago on Tuesday evening, January 10th, could easily be described with the same words. He made a call for participation by every person as a safeguard against the dangers of apathy and indifference.

turnoverarocktoday.com is forced to match the scope of its activity with the limits of available resources, just as its forerunners did over the years. This leaves a lot of ‘rocks to turn over’, and more, contends with restraints even in those areas where it concentrates what assets it has.

There is no hope of stirring a mass involvement towards the greater good, or persuading most that the individual is a relevant power to overwhelm the darker forces that “work their wily ways”, as Churchill alliterated. We can argue that willfully stepping over the rocks underfoot marks a path towards such a degree of corruption that the democratic institutions we take for granted are compromised. This is like climate change. It’s not something we should be anticipating. This is with us now.

Spend a half day in a courtroom. Any courtroom. Show up for a municipal council meeting just once. Live in a city that is a government centre? Check out the legislature’s public gallery. Total this at five or six hours a year. The point? Your presence is warily welcomed but the scrutiny not so much. That should be warning enough.

No vigilance. No democracy. They’re more than just words.

2017 – what’s up?

turnoverarocktoday was conceived as a monitor of human rights abuses in this country, narrowly focused in a few specific areas. All the same, looking under those rocks presented a previously unforeseen challenge where opportunities to expose the hidden outweighs the resources available to do just that.

The venerable British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, a leading champion of human rights and civil liberties in Canada, operates with a staff of ten, but has the committed support of more than 200 pro bono lawyers, and ‘countless’ volunteers and donors. Its impact is felt across the country, but even the BCCLA is forced to limit the scope of inquiries, investigations, and litigation it takes on at any one time.

Remember, we’re addressing our Canadian social environment and specifically the concerns that arise within our civil service and with our public servants. That isn’t to say we have no reason to take pride in this country or applaud the good that comes from it. For one, activist groups may come under assault and even legal censure, but the law protects our existence.

Justin Trudeau’s “we can do better” is an understatement. A prime minister with a conscientious cabinet alone will not right wrong without many more BCCLAs or turnoverarocktodays. There’s never enough of us on the one hand, and too much silence from the community on the other.

We carry on.

The criticism of segregation and solitary confinement policies in our federal prisons and provincial jails captured the media’s attention during the second half of 2016. Thanks to BCCLA and toart along with so many other social activists for forcing governments to at last acknowledge a long-standing problem with how we treat the men and women we often consider the least among us. Just as relevant, although almost never a part of any exposé, are the actions of ‘rogue guards’ who ignore their oath and code of conduct to circumvent policy, practice and even the law to abuse both their office and their charges.

What the response to the media coverage will accomplish is pending, and we shouldn’t be overly optimistic. Bureaucracies not only resist change but develop protocols to inhibit the attempts of reformers. turnoverarocktoday will take time for this issue from the beginning of 2017.

Brennan Guigue has been in provincial custody during 2016. He’s written extensively, some autobiographical, but more precisely on the realities of conditions inside Ontario’s provincial penal system. This is interesting reading and much of it will be posted in the New Year.

We carry on….weekly or biweekly in 2017…..but, we carry on.

….the answer is blowin’ in the wind…

Justin Trudeau has set a very different social agenda for the government he heads from the previous administration’s regressive backslide to the caves. Now that the troglodytes have been banished to the political hinterland, fresh breezes are breathing relief into many federal ministries.

No doubt though our staid civil service bureaucracy has entrenched elements committed to components of medieval feudalism, a characterizing resistance to change predating Confederation, and favouring traditional conservative perspectives. Too often, the most protectionist of the senior mandarins are in the best position to exert a negative influence on the best the service has to offer.

Mr. Trudeau, his ministers, and the members of his caucus are likely to experience a baffling frustration in executing the progressive measures they’ve promised. The more liberal the policy proposals, the tougher the going may be, and might easily resemble a nightmarish prospect akin to herding cats in the rain.

It is up to us in the community who support the initiatives this government is undertaking to be encouraging, a buttress against the darker self-serving forces of yesterday, and a prod to the turtles who people so much of the Canadian landscape.

The window of opportunity to move this country forward before the inevitable cynicism and lethargy eventually engulfs even today’s best-intentioned reformers may be short lived.

Cheer the dragon slayers now!

It’s a simple matter of a few key strokes to send your support to government members through their sites, and avoid what’s become the onerous task of actually putting pen to paper, and the attendant coping with envelope, stamp, and a walk to the mailbox. It should be noted however that our best information indicates that politicians pay the most attention to hand-written letters, believing the sender feels strongly enough about a position to go to those lengths to air their opinions.