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September 16: The 60 Day Reviews

The relative peace that returned to Kent Institution following the major incidents in July and August involving the murder of Christian Grenier and the attempted murder of Sean Blair was again disrupted in September with two incidents over a two-week period, one in general population, the other in protective custody. The incident in general population arose following efforts to increase enforcement of the rules against removing items from the inmate dining room and involved an assault by two prisoners on two staff members. Neither of the officers were seriously injured, but as a result the institution was locked down for several days. No sooner had it opened up, when on the protective custody side there was a donnybrook in the courtyard involving seven prisoners, all of whom were taken to segregations. No weapons were drawn nor deployed, and the fight was broken up without serious injuries. The IPSOs were quickly satisfied that there was little likelihood of further outbreak of violence. Three days later, six of the seven prisoners were released back to their units. The seventh prisoner requested to stay in segregation, and was seen at a 5-day segregation review. The review was conducted by Mike Csoka as the acting unit manager for segregation. At that review, it became clear that this prisoner, one of two transsexual prisoners at Kent, had a further reason for requesting that she stay in segregation over and beyond a fear for her safety; her lover had been placed in segregation several weeks previously, following a threat to his life and would be remaining in segregation for the three weeks left until his statutory release. Her remaining in segregation, therefore, not only allowed her more time to let matters settle in the population, but also would enable her to spend time with her lover, with whom she was double-bunked. At the conclusion of the 5-day review, Mike Csoka looked at me, recognizing that his recommendation that the prisoner stay in segregation for her own protection would be facilitating the relationship between a transsexual prisoner and her lover and commented, "I guess I really am a man of the '90s. I don't believe I'm doing this."

With the exception of Mr. Forget and Mr. Thornber, the prisoners who had been segregated following the murder of Christian Grenier were still in segregation when the Segregation Review Board conducted its sixty-day reviews on September 16 under the chairmanship of Mike Csoka. Mr. Thornber, who had been in the exercise yard when Christian Grenier was killed, had been released in the first week of September, having served the 30 daysí segregation he received for damaging the roof during the A unit smash-up. His release was without incident. In the second week of September, a decision had been made to release Mr. Arneil, whom the national investigation team had concluded was only peripherally involved in the yard incident, but before that release could be effected the institution received information that he would be harmed if returned to general population. Voluntary transfers had been approved for two prisoners: Mr. Shropshire, who was in protective custody after providing the RCMP with a statement implicating Mr. Makichuk and Mr. Simpson in the killing, and Mr. Hepburn, who had also provided a statement. The segregation review hearings for these men were extremely brief, advising them only that their transfers had been processed and that they would be leaving Kent in the near future. The review of Jeremy Adams was also abbreviated; since he was due to be released from Kent in ten daysí time, it was decided he would remain in segregation until that date for his own safety.

Shawn Preddyís review did not last much longer than Mr. Adamsí. Mr. Csoka informed him that according to the IPSOs, Mr. Preddyís life would be in danger if he were returned to the population. Mr. Preddy said that since being placed in segregation in July, the only written information he had received was the original segregation notice, which indicated he was being segregated pending an investigation into an incident in the exercise yard. Since that date, he had been given no further information, and neither of the IPSOs had interviewed him or explained the basis for their belief that his life would be in jeopardy in the population. Mr. Csoka said he would ensure that the IPSOs came down to talk to Mr. Preddy -- which was exactly what Mr. Preddy had been told by Mr. Wallin at his thirty-day review.

Only Mr. Whitmore and Mr. Rosenthal had been provided with a written gist of the information that led IPSO Jim Farrell to conclude their safety would be compromised if they were returned to the population. The gist in Mr. Whitmoreís case concluded:

Numerous sources have told staff that WHITMORE would be harmed if released to the open GP units. Source information has recently been received that WHITMORE could be released to the open units but would not guarantee his safety.

The fact of having conflicting reports on the safety of inmate WHITMORE being released causes great concern with the Preventive Security department. In the past, members of the GP population have guaranteed the safety of certain inmates that can be released to the open GP units. In this case while we have had information that WHITMORE can be released no guarantees have been given even when asked for. Due to the above information, the writer recommends that WHITMORE remain in segregation. (Gist of Information, Kent Institution, September 8, 1997)

At the beginning of his sixty-day review, Mr. Whitmore was told by Mr. Csoka that the institution would be pursuing his involuntary transfer to Edmonton Institution. Mr. Whitmore insisted that the information about the threats to his safety were inflated and self-serving and asked why, if a transfer was being considered, he could not be transferred to a medium-securityinstitution within the Pacific region, so he could remain close to his wife and son. Mr. Csoka responded that reduction in Mr. Whitmoreís security classification was not in the cards because of his involvement in the Grenier murder. Mr. Whitmore challenged that statement, saying, "You know I wasnít involved." Mr. Csoka, returning Mr. Whitmoreís eye-to-eye challenge, responded, "I donít know that. Iím just going on what the IPSOs tell me. If you disagree with what we are saying, you or your lawyer will have a chance to rebut it when you get the transfer package." The following exchange ensued:

JW : It doesnít matter what I say, you people will do whatever you want.

MC : Thatís your interpretation.

JW : Itís not my interpretation, itís my experience. How do I prove to you people that Iím not in danger? The only way I can convince you is if you let me out. There is no other way so long as there are people out there who have an interest in keeping me in here and keep telling you that my life is danger.

MC : I canít go against what the IPSOs tell me.

JW : But the IPSOs are talking to the people who want to keep me in here. Itís not just me youíre affecting, youíre affecting my family and my son.

MC : Iím well aware of your family, and I want to make sure that your son has a father. If I let you back in the population and someone stabs you, I have to think of how Iím going to explain to your son that he no longer has a father.

JW : That is not going to happen. Donít you think Iíve thought about that? Iím not going to press to get myself back into the population if I thought that there was a serious risk that Iíd die.

The review ended with Mr. Csoka informing Mr. Whitmore that the IPSOs' assessment would prevail and that he would remain in segregation pending the completion of the involuntary transfer package.

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Mike Csoka