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The Way out of Segregation -- Go East, Young Man

By early October, the Kent administration had resolved that the only alternative to long-term segregation for those involved in the Grenier incident was involuntary transfers out of the region. The cases of Kenny Makichuk and Neil Simpson were easiest to resolve; both had been charged with the first-degree murder of Christian Grenier, and involuntary transfer packages were prepared recommending their transfer to the Special Handling Unit in Quebec . Other maximum-security institutions were being sought for Messrs. Rosenthal, Preddy, and Arneil. The administrationís position was that the lives and safety of these prisoners would be in jeopardy if they were returned to Kent's general population.

In challenging this basis for maintaining them in segregation and seeking their transfers, the three men believed that a recent development would strengthen their hand. Back in July, Jeremy Adams, one of the prisoners originally segregated, had been released from segregation but had been returned just a few hours later when an officer stated that he had personally seen Mr. Adams hit Mr. Forget with a baseball bat and his release to the population would likely result in immediate retaliation. Mr. Adams remained in segregation until his statutory release in September. A few weeks later he was returned to Kent for violation of his statutory release conditions. He was placed in the temporary detention unit and, as part of that unitís usual routine, permitted to mix with GP prisoners in the yard. His return was met with no threats of violence. The three prisoners remaining in segregation argued that this was the best evidence that the administrationís fears of retaliation against all prisoners implicated in the Grenier killing were unfounded. If Mr. Adams could be reintegrated into the population without incident, clearly the risk of retaliation was overblown and the basis for continued segregation or involuntary transfers undermined.

Those arguments found no favour with the Segregation Review Board. However, Mr. Preddy and Mr. Arneil prepared written rebuttals to the involuntary transfer packages served on them in November. Mr. Preddyís rebuttal, supported by submissions from Prisonersí Legal Services, pointed out that his gist of information was virtually identical to the gist given to Mr. Adams; if Mr. Adams could interact in the population without incident, it logically followed that Mr. Preddy could as well. Prisonersí Legal Services also referred to a discussion with IPSO Wayne Culbert, who "advised that he had not spoken to the informant sources for approximately one and a half months. Since that time Mr. Adamsí contact with population prisoners has been without incident. It would suggest that the information received was either not reliable and/or is now outdated" (Letter from Beth Parkinson to Warden Brenda Marshall, Kent Institution, December 5, 1997). Notwithstanding these objections, Warden Marshall affirmed her recommendations that both Mr. Preddy and Mr. Arneil be transferred. The transfers were upheld by Regional Headquarters, and in February 1998, Mr. Preddy and Mr. Arneil were flown to Edmonton Institution.

On the day before the transfer I spoke with Mr. Preddy during his last visit with his wife in the Kent visiting area. At both his thirty-day review in August and his sixty-day review in September, Mr. Preddy had been told by the Segregation Review Board that one of the IPSOs would be down to explain to him the reasons why they believed his safety was in jeopardy. Mr. Preddy confirmed for me that since the day he was placed in segregation in July 1997, the IPSOs had never spoken with him personally about their concerns for his safety. He had received a bare bones gist of information in late September and the notice of involuntary transfer in late November, but even these had not led to any face-to-face discussion.

Mr. Rosenthal had fully expected to receive the same involuntary transfer package served on Mr. Preddy and Mr. Arneil. However, the correctional dice rolled in his favour. Barry Owen, his case management officer, instructed to prepare an involuntary transfer package to another maximum-security institution, recommended instead that Mr. Rosenthal be transferred to Matsqui. Mr. Owen reasoned that Mr. Rosenthal had previously been positively considered for a medium-securityinstitution; the limited evidence of his involvement in the Grenier incident should not impede his descent down the security ladder. Matsqui initially turned down the application, citing the fact that Mr. Rosenthal was found to be in possession of a knife during the Grenier incident; when asked to hand it over by an officer, he had refused to do so. This, Matsqui said, was incompatible with medium-securitystatus. Mr. Rosenthalís response, supported by the Kent officer involved, was that he had not refused to surrender the knife but rather thrown it to the ground to avoid handing over a weapon to staff in front of other prisoners. In the context of maximum security, this was a way of demonstrating that he was "solid," and it had not been seen by the officer as an aggressive act. Following some politicking between the wardens of Kent and Matsqui, Mr. Rosenthalís transfer was approved. Still, it was not until early February of 1998, almost seven months after he had first been segregated, that Mr. Rosenthal left his segregation cell at Kent for Matsqui.

If the new year brought some positive change in Mr. Rosenthalís life, it brought an ill wind for another prisoner segregated after the Grenier killing. Crown counsel, as part of its legal obligation under s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, had disclosed to the lawyers representing Kenny Makichuk and Neil Simpson, both charged with the first-degree murder of Christian Grenier, the statements taken from various prisoners as part of their investigation. One of those statements was from Claude Forget. Nowhere in Mr. Forgetís statement did he identify either Mr. Makichuk or Mr. Simpson as the perpetrators of the attack on Mr. Grenier. He also made it very clear to the RCMP that he would not testify at any criminal trial. The RCMP report of Mr. Forgetís statement included the comment that "this, of course, was due to the fact that he is an inmate and it is not acceptable to help police. If he did co-operate and testify, he could not return to general population."

The irony for Mr. Forget was that, when Mr. Makichuk and Mr. Simpson received copies of the Crown disclosure documents and saw that Mr. Forget had spoken to police, the word was quickly sent out that Mr. Forget had co-operated with police and was therefore a "rat." As the word circulated through the GP units, Mr. Forget, acutely aware from what had happened over the past several months that perception was everything, accepted the inevitable and on January 14, 1998, asked to move to segregation for his own safety. The initial reintegration plan for Mr. Forget involved an involuntary transfer to Port-Cartier Institution in Quebec; instead, he requested a transfer to the Regional Health Centre to participate in the Violent Offender Program. The RHC accepted Mr. Forget, and early in May 1998 he was transferred there from Kent segregation.

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