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location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 4 / Chapter 5 A Deadly July: Prison Politics, Staff Realities and the Law / Enhancing Segregation Review

This focus on due process is necessary and appropriate, underscoring the nature of Administrative Segregation as an extraordinary interim measure, to be used only when there is no reasonable alternative. It helps shape and emphasize the prime responsibility of all those involved in decision-making related to Administrative Segregation: to release inmates from Administrative Segregation as soon as that can be done practicably and safely. (Administrative Segregation Handbook (Draft) December, 1997, p. 24, pp. 14-15, p. 33)

The Handbook is supplemented by what are described as "Tools and Aids." These include a chronological statement of detailed timelines and procedures which, step by step, set out the mandated procedures that must be followed for each prisoner in administrative segregation. This sets out exactly what has to be done and what information has to be provided to the prisoner, immediately upon placement, on working day one, working day five, etc. through the cycle. A second tool named the "Over-all Responsibility Checklist," as its name implies, provides detailed lists of responsibilities of the institutional head, the officer in charge of the segregation unit, the case management team, the Segregation Review Board, health care practitioners and regional headquarters.

By the time the Grenier murder charges were stayed in the spring of 1998, the CSC could present a report card showing that, a year after the completion of the report of the Task Force on Segregation, it had taken specific, focussed measures to enhance the segregation review process. It had conducted training workshops in all regions, developed the Draft Administrative Segregation Handbook, re-engineered an electronic recording system built around the pivotal legal points of reference, and provided a set of tools to take staff through the process review by review, literally day by day. The whole package was further reinforced by a series of regular audits.

All of this was impressive. But to use the question that Dan Kane, Chair of the Task Force on Segregation, regularly asked in staff briefings, "What does it look like where the rubber meets the road?" In other words, were segregation decisions and segregation reviews conducted differently at Kent a year after the Task Force report? The audit in January 1998 had found that Kent was not providing sufficient information to prisoners and that segregation review records were not adequately justifying the rationale for segregation, or demonstrating no reasonable alternatives, or documenting a reintegration plan (deficiencies I had also observed in the segregation reviews conducted in the aftermath of "Deadly July"). Following the audit, there was an exchange of correspondence among National Headquarters, the deputy commissioner for the Pacific Region, and the warden of Kent, setting out an action plan to address the deficiencies. That plan included intensive training on the revised OMS segregation module, the assignment of a full-time CO-II dedicated to ensuring that information was documented and shared with prisoners, and the assignment of a full-time case management officer whose only responsibility would be for segregated prisoners. In addition, it was agreed that the warden or the deputy warden of Kent would monitor case development for administratively segregated prisoners on a daily basis and that Regional Headquarters would review cases weekly to ensure that compliance measures were in effect. The final element of the plan was that a national audit team would revisit Kent in March 1998 to conduct a follow-up audit. Using the vernacular of parole, it would be fair to say that the Kent administration was placed under intensive supervision in relation to segregation practices.

In May and June 1998, I attended a number of segregation reviews. In the wake of the January audit, the scheduling of thirty-day reviews was now done on an individual basis. Instead of holding a once-monthly review board at which as many as thirty cases might be reviewed, the Board now met throughout the month, reviewing smaller clusters of cases each time. The other major change was in the sixty-day reviews. Formerly, these had involved a larger cast of characters than the thirty-day reviews, including a representative from Regional Headquarters. The regional aspect of the sixty-day review was now performed electronically at Regional Headquarters.

The Segregation Review Board was now chaired by Kevin Morgan, who had taken over as the unit manager for degregation at Kent in December 1997. Kent was Mr. Morganís first assignment as a unit manager, and he was therefore on a very steep learning curve. He had participated in the segregation training workshop in January 1998 and had assumed primary responsibilities for implementing the action plan established following the January audit. From 1994 to 1996, the thirty- and sixty-day reviews had usually been held in the boardroom adjacent to the segregation unit, which doubled as the hearing room for disciplinary court and National Parole Board hearings. As their frequency increased, the thirty- and sixty-day reviews were shifted to the small interview room in J unit. The move lessened the demands on staff providing escorts. But while it was administratively more convenient to hold the hearings in J unit, there were considerable costs. The interview room was approximately 13 feet x 10 feet; it contained only a small desk and two chairs, one of which (the one used by prisoners) was bolted to the floor. In 1997, the roomís already meagre dimensions contracted by a third, when it was divided by a metal partition which better controlled prisoner movement from the exercise yard. As a result, the weight of institutional authority in a typical segregation review hearing was pervasive, and the limited space allowed little opportunity for a formal hearing process. The Board typically consisted of Mr. Morgan, Mr. Yarwood, the case management officer responsible for the management of segregated prisoners ("Institutional Parole Officer" after January 1998) and the segregation clerk. Mr. Morganís hearing style was unstructured, with some hearings directed by him, others by Mr. Yarwood.

The Draft Administrative Segregation Handbook, a copy of which was given to all staff attending the training workshops, sets out guidelines for Segregation Review Board hearings. These include the following:

The hearing should be recorded on audio tape, to ensure an accurate record is available . . . A statement explaining the purpose of the Segregation Review Board should be read out loud to all participants at the beginning of the hearing. The procedural safeguards checklist should be reviewed (out loud) to ensure that appropriate requirements have been fulfilled. The chairperson should describe circumstances giving rise to the inmateís placement in Administrative Segregation, and indicate that the SRB would decide whether there are adequate grounds to justify keeping him or her there, based on those grounds. (Draft Administrative Segregation Handbook, Annex A, December 1997)

In the segregation review hearings I observed in May 1998, none of these guidelines was followed.

According to the Draft Administrative Segregation Handbook, the purpose for regional participation at the sixty-day review is to act "as a court of sober second sight, ensuring that Administrative Segregation is being used as a last resort and is based only on one of the valid grounds set out in the CCRA. " In May 1998 in the Pacific Region, this "court of sober second sight" took the form of a project officer reviewing the OMS record on his computer at Regional Headquarters.

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Interview Room, Kent Segregation Unit