August 14: The Thirty-Day Reviews - A Legal Milestone?
The Segregation Review Board which met on August 14 did not have to
consider the cases of any prisoners involved in the A unit smash-up. All
of them had already been released except for one who remained in segregation, serving
out a sentence of 30 days’ punitive segregation imposed at a disciplinary
hearing on charges preceding the smash-up.
Seven prisoners alleged to be involved in the incident in the exercise
yard remained in segregation. As I have described, Mr. Forget had been
seen by the Board two days prior to the regular thirty-day reviews, and
the Board recommended to the warden that he be released back to the population.
The warden determined that this should take place and late in the afternoon
of August 14, Mr. Forget returned to his cell in C unit.
The thirty-day reviews were chaired by Unit Manager Wallin, who had
been asked to take on this responsibility at the last moment. All of the
prisoners attended their reviews except for Mr. Makichuk. Under new procedures,
each prisoner’s CMO was supposed to be at the review, together with the
IPSO; however, at the August 14 reviews, none of the prisoners’ CMOs were
present, and neither was the IPSO, despite the fact that information he
had collected was critical to the reviews. Because Mr. Wallin had had
no time to prepare in advance, at the beginning of each review he consulted
the bare-bones summary on the prisoner’s index card. Although the prisoners
had been given three days’ notice that the hearing would be conducted,
they were provided with no written information regarding their cases.
It could hardly be maintained that there was no information to share.
During the month since the Grenier killing, there had been a constant
flow of information between prisoners and the administration regarding
the climate in the population and the risks associated with the release
of the segregated prisoners. The national investigation had been completed
two weeks earlier, and senior management had been debriefed by the investigation
team. This new information was the basis on which the Segregation Review
Board should have assessed the justification for continued segregation
of the prisoners. The information should also have been reduced to writing
and shared with the prisoners. The thirty-day review should be a significant
milestone for the gathering of evidence and its assessment against the
legal criteria. However, the August thirty-day reviews bore none of these
In several cases, when prisoners inquired when they would be released
now that the national investigation was over, they were told that the
RCMP investigation was ongoing and they would be maintained in segregation
pending its completion and the IPSO’s assessment of their risk. After
informing Shawn Preddy of this, Mr. Wallin asked him whether he had been
questioned by the RCMP. Mr. Preddy said no; in fact, nobody from either
outside or inside the institution had questioned him about the incident
in the yard (Mr. Preddy, like Mr. Whitmore, was a player in the events
of both Deadly July and The Life and Death of the Electric Man). Mr. Wallin
said he would ask the IPSO to speak with Mr. Preddy.
There was one obvious question which occurred to me during the hearings
and which was voiced by several prisoners. Why was the Board maintaining
their segregation at this stage pending an assessment by the IPSO of their
risk if released to the population? There had been more than enough time
to do this assessment, and one primary purpose of the thirty-day review
should have been to consider it.
The thirty-day reviews of these prisoners, like the five-day reviews,
utterly failed to fulfil the purposes of a review as envisaged by the
CCRA. Prisoners had not been given the
legally required written information about their cases; there was no review
or assessment of the available evidence, and no inquiry was directed to
the legal grounds for segregation. While it could not be said, as in the
five-day reviews, that the thirty-day reviews were conducted by a chairperson
who had prejudged the issue, they were
conducted by a chairperson who (through no fault of his own) was totally
unprepared for the hearing.
The legislative purpose of the thirty-day reviews had also been undermined
by the musical chairs played over the previous month in key management
positions. For two weeks after the death of Christian Grenier, Mike Csoka
(in his various capacities), IPSO Jim Farrell, and Warden Brenda Marshall
were the principal institutional figures to and through whom information
flowed. All three were there during the national investigation and had
participated in the debriefing. Following that, the warden went on a week’s
annual leave. Mike Csoka and Jim Farrell went on three weeks’ leave, and
Unit Manager Lin Wallin and IPSO Wayne Culbert, who had been on annual
leaves of absence themselves during the critical period and missed the
national debriefing, returned to their positions. Claude Demers, acting
unit manager of segregation, had been absent for six weeks previous to
that. Deputy Warden Doug Richmond was in the institution for only part
of the two weeks following the murder, and he too missed the national
debriefing. These comings and goings resulted in people making decisions
without being in possession of the entire picture.
Correctional staff, like all workers, are certainly entitled to their
holidays. July and August, for obvious reasons -- good weather, kids out
of school -- are the prime months for annual leave. But the law is not
supposed to go on holiday. In July and August of 1997, Kent maintained
the skeletal framework of segregation review, but the reviews did not
meet the legal standards of a fair and effective process.
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