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location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 4 / Chapter 3 The Arbour Report: The Indictment of a System / The Effects of Segregation -- The Pains of Imprisonment versus Behavioural Deep Freeze

It is instructive to compare Madam Justice Arbourís conclusions on the debate in the scientific and criminological literature on the effects of segregation with the CSCís conclusions as reflected in the Rick Assessment Manual. According to the Rick Assessment Manual there is no real debate. On the one hand there is the "pains of imprisonment" literature which "reflects casual observation, personal experiences presented in the form of case studies, and rhetorical description that is highly theoretical, emotional, and often political." There is simply no contest when this is measured against the "informed social psychological framework" of Dr. Bonta and Dr. Gendreau which establishes "there is no evidence that segregation, solitary confinement, long term incarceration have a generally negative or a generally positive impact on health, psychological functioning, or criminal propensity." In other words, CSC staff and managers are trained to view segregation as a neutral event in the lives of prisoners rather than one which in Madam Justice Arbourís view "is a devastating experience."

The Rick Assessment Manual is quite explicit in identifying the prison, in the absence of active rehabilitative programming, as a "behavioural deep freeze." In light of what the CSC researchers say about the effects of segregation, it is not surprising that the long term segregation I observed at Kent Institution was viewed with relative equanimity as a fact of correctional life in the Ď90s. It also explains why institutional psychologists were not more vocal in expressing their condemnation of long term segregation. Thus, in both theory and practice, scholarly work such as Prisoners of Isolation is discounted with the result that in a case such as Donnie Oag, the worst that can be said about four years in segregation is that there is a need to "detoxify" the prisoner, as if it is the individual and not the correctional system which is polluted.

It is not accidental that the materials in the Rick Assessment Manual describing prison and the segregation experience as a "behavioural deep freeze" were written and disseminated to correctional staff during the very period in which the prisoners at the Prison for Women were segregated under the conditions described by Madam Justice Arbour.

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