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location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 4 / Chapter 2 Administrative Segregation at Matsqui and Kent,1993-6: The Persistence of Customary Law / The Worst of Times -- Christmas in Segregation

Mr. Sexsmith made good on the latter promise; Mr. Martineau spent the next day with his wife, and on January 3 he was released from segregation. However, as the following account describes, that release hardly represented his vindication in the eyes of Unit Manager Cawsey:

On January 3 I saw Mr. Cawsey and he said to me, "You were talking to the deputy warden last week?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Well, you were told you were getting out today and I donít have any alternative, I have to act on that, but as far as Iím concerned you were directly responsible in this incident. I canít prove it but I know that. I have no choice but to let you go." When I asked about getting a single cell he said, "There is no single cell out there. You can either wait in segregation until we get a single cell or otherwise, if Brown agrees, I will release you into a double-bunk cell with him. Thatís it." I said, "Hey, listen, why are saying that I was directly involved in this? You know what youíre telling me? Youíre telling me that this is going to affect everything I do. Youíre the unit manager where I am living. Youíre the man with all the juice here. This is going to affect my transfers, my parole applications, my security classification, everything, because of something you believe." So I get out of segregation but Iím in a double-bunk cell, Iíve lost the job I had for three years, and Iím told by the unit manager that he believes Iím guilty whatever the deputy warden thinks. (Interview with Robert Martineau, Kent Institution, January 6, 1995)

Following Mr. Martineauís release, I spoke with Unit Managers Cawsey and Shadbolt. Mr. Cawsey confirmed that while he had no concrete proof of Mr. Martineauís involvement in the Flamond stabbing, he still had serious reservations about his innocence. Both unit managers viewed Mr. Sexsmithís communication with Mr. Martineau on December 29, that he intended to have him released on January 3, as inappropriate. The staff were also upset about the reinstatement of the last day of the private family visit because, as it fell on a long weekend, staff were left to do a lot of scrambling to ensure the visit went ahead. Ms. Shadbolt shared with me another highly significant fact. She believed that part of the reason Mr. Martineau and Mr. Brown had been segregated before Christmas was to break down their power base within the institution. Their release from segregation so quickly, as a result of orders from Mr. Sexsmith, had undermined that objective.

I also interviewed both Mr. Martineau and Mr. Brown to record their views on how they were segregated and the circumstances under which they were released. This is what Mr. Brown told me:

It was depressing and frustrating because we both knew that we had nothing to do with it. Moochie [Mr. Flamond] was a friend of ours and we were really pissed off about some of the things that were being said, some of the things that we were hearing. It was frustrating because we were asking to speak to the people who were supposedly in charge of the investigation and no one would speak to us, no one would give us any information of any kind, so we were kept completely in the dark. Itís really depressing. Our friendís in the hospital with stab wounds, we are being investigated for it or dragged into the investigation for some reason unknown to us, and it was really kind of a helpless feeling. (Interview with Paul Brown, Kent Institution, January 6, 1995. In 1999, Paul Brown himself was fatally stabbed at Kent.)

Mr. Martineau summarized his feelings in this way:

Whenever Iíve been segregated generally thereís a reason. I get myself in situations that probably thereís a reason for them putting me there, but in this instance, Moochie is somebody that Iíve known since he was a kid and I baby-sit him wherever I go. I was really upset about what happened because I know that had I been there it wouldnít have happened. Thereís no doubt in my mind that there was a hidden agenda. Some of the staff obviously didnít like the pressure I was putting on the institution as a result of the meeting with the national and regional Aboriginal representatives, and didnít like it that the warden and deputy warden had stepped in and ordered that the Christmas project should go ahead. They were looking for an excuse to undermine what I was doing even though I was trying to do what was right for the Brothers. Iím really angry about what happened. If you wanted to remember a Christmas that was the worst one of your life, this is certainly one of them for me, in or out of prison. (Interview with Robert Martineau, Kent Institution, January 6, 1995)

Mr. Martineauís early release on this occasion was fortuitous, arising as it did because of the intervention of Deputy Warden Sexsmith. Ironically, it was only because of the assault on the officer originally designated to do the investigation that Mr. Sexsmith reviewed the facts and concluded there was no case against Mr. Martineau. Had the investigation taken its normal course, it would likely have been months before a decision was made. But even with Mr. Sexsmithís involvement, there was an element of arbitrariness to Mr. Martineauís release. As Mr. Sexsmith acknowledged, he had concluded by December 29 that there was no legal justification for keeping Mr. Martineau in segregation; the only reason for delaying his release until January 3 was to appease the unit managers. In other words, Mr. Martineau spent an extra five days in segregation for reasons of institutional politics.

Politics in a prison, on both sides of the keeper/kept divide, are complex. The essential difference is that prisoners usually assert their authority in ways that are characterized by the administration as unlawful. Yet the tools of institutional authority, particularly with regard to segregation, are deployed under the umbrella of apparent legality. In my judgement, Robert Martineauís assertion of authority as the President of the Native Brotherhood was honourable and in furtherance of the objectives of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act regarding Aboriginal programming. From the perspective of the unit managers, everything he did was viewed as having a sinister undercurrent; every agenda was seen as self-serving, every move inspired by a drug play rather than an endeavour to improve the situation of Aboriginal prisoners.

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