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Chapter 5
The Disciplinary Process -- 1997-8

My intensive weekly observations of the Matsqui and Kent disciplinary court ended in the spring of 1995. However, while pursuing my research into other aspects of the decision-making spectrum, I continued to study the operations of the disciplinary process. I was particularly interested in assessing whether the kinds of reforms I have identified in the last chapter would significantly improve the fairness and effectiveness of the disciplinary process in the eyes of prisoners and prison staff. My observations during 1997-8 also served a further purpose in taking my research of the disciplinary process to the eve of the five-year review of the CCRA by the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

My observations during 1997-8 revealed all the same structural flaws in the process, that from a staff perspective undermine its credibility, yet which largely flow from a lack of commitment of institutional resources and co-ordination in the preparation and presentation of cases. In July and August of 1997 I sat in on four consecutive sessions of the Kent disciplinary court where there were four different advisors, none of whom had any knowledge of what had taken place in the weeks preceding in cases that had been adjourned. For example, on July 22, 1997, the advisor sitting in for the Co-ordinator of Correctional Operations, had just returned from a six-week absence from the institution; he therefore had no personal knowledge of any of the cases on the very long docket. This made it very difficult for him to make recommendations on sentence that took into account the context of the offence; yet this is primary rationale for the participation of an institutional advisor.

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