The Heide Case
Mr. Heide was one of the prisoners in whose cells weapons were found.
Three days after the search, on June 15, Mr. Heide was taken to segregation,
where two hours later he was served with a Notification of Recommendation
for Involuntary Transfer to Kent. On his arrival at Kent, he was placed
in segregation, where he remained for the next three weeks. The reasons
for his transfer, set out in the notification, were these:
(1) During a search of your cell on 94.06.12 a piece
of contraband metal was found. This item has been examined by several
staff members knowledgeable in firearms and it is believed to be a firing
(2) Several other items of contraband were seized
including screwdrivers, pliers, a nut driver, scissors and a handmade
(3) You have been charged with possession of these
(4) Your behaviour is considered to be unacceptable
at a medium security facility. Your security classification has been revised
to maximum security. (Notification of Recommendation for Involuntary Transfer,
Matsqui Institution, June 15, 1994)
On June 17, Mr. Heide received a progress summary supporting the recommendation
of involuntary transfer. It stated:
Mr. Heide is currently serving a sentence for numerous
impaired driving offences (times 12), theft under, driving while disqualified
(times four), breach of conditions, driver with over 80 mg, fail to stop
at the scene of an accident, and escape lawful custody. To date Mr. Heide
has completed the offender substance abuse program and participates in
institutional Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but he continues to pose a
high risk of re-offending as he only recently began addressing his problems.
During his previous incarcerations Mr. Heide did not address his alcohol
abuse which he had denied until now. Mr. Heide is volatile to re-offend
and is considered a high risk to the public safety. Furthermore, it appears
that Mr. Heide is involved in the manufacturing of "zip guns" within the
institution which could present serious concerns to the public safety.
(Progress Summary, Matsqui Institution, June 17, 1994)
Mr. Heide prepared a written rebuttal disputing the allegation that
he was a high risk to public safety.
The issue I'm deeply concerned of is where it states;
it appears that Mr. Heide is involved in the manufacturing of zip guns.
How, where or why they'd ever place that in a report about me is beyond
me because I've never, ever owned a gun in my entire life let alone tried
to build one, so that affected me harshly as I definitely do not have
any use for such an object and definitely wouldn't jeopardize my release
by doing it for someone else. If such an object were in my cell, knowing
fully that there was a major search in effect, I'm sure I wouldn't of
had something like that out in the open because I could have thrown it
out the cell window before my cell was searched. The object they claim
to be a firing pin is a countersinker for my hobbies as I have a wood
permit and build little boxes for nails and screws as well as the odd
jewellery box, so that also is why I had a home-made hammer, screwdriver,
socket driver and scissors. I just inherited these from someone who got
released and had no real use for them so they simply just laid around.
I'd like to also mention all these contraband items are contraband seemingly
while in my possession, but it's not contraband if you purchase them from
Canadian Tire or Pro Hardware and had them in your cell for hobbies. So
I'll admit I'm guilty of having these items in my possession but I won't
admit to what they claim is a firing pin. I'd like to mention on numerous
amount of times my cell was searched and none of these items were then
confiscated or even brought to my attention, but yet now I've lost my
security rating, pay, job and a chance of going to camps. (Rebuttal of
Roy Heide, July 4, 1994)
On June 22, Mr. Heide, along with a number of the other prisoners who
had been transferred from Matsqui to Kent, appeared before a special sitting
of the Disciplinary Board at Kent Institution presided over by Mr. Routley.
Mr. Heide's case was set down for hearing at Matsqui on July 6. Prior
to that, there were some remarkable developments. Maria Parton, the Transfer
Co-ordinator at Matsqui, came to Kent to serve Mr. Heide and the other
prisoners who had been transferred with their progress summaries. In the
middle of her interview with Mr. Heide, one of the Kent unit managers
came into the room and advised her that Matsqui had agreed to take Mr.
Heide back. Ms. Parton had no prior knowledge of the decision, and she
told me later that she was embarrassed by this announcement in the middle
of the interview.
Ms. Parton told me this sudden reversal likely stemmed from an incident
at Matsqui the previous week, in which a prisoner had assaulted a staff
member and then been placed in segregation. When he flooded his cell,
a decision was made to transfer him to Kent. But because both Matsqui
and Kent were full, transfers could be made only on a one-for-one basis.
In other words, if Matsqui wanted to transfer another prisoner to Kent,
someone from Kent had to be transferred back to Matsqui. Ms. Parton's
theory was confirmed by a unit manager at Kent. Mr. Heide's transfer package
was the weakest of those recently transferred, he said, and his return
to Matsqui was a practical expedient for having Kent accept a more urgent
involuntary transfer. Mr. Heide was supposed to be transferred on June
30, but due to a clerical error this did not take place until July 5.
He therefore spent Canada Day 1994 in a segregation cell at Kent instead
of in his cell in the general population at Matsqui.
On July 6, Mr. Heide appeared in disciplinary court at Matsqui before
Mr. Routley on the charge that had precipitated his transfer to Kent.
Mr. Heide said he was prepared to plead guilty to possession of all of
the items except the alleged firing pin. He said he worked in the prison
garage and collected pieces there for his hobby work. Mr. Routley -- who
in his pre-lawyer life had been a mechanic -- examined the piece of metal
as Mr. Heide explained it was a piece taken from an old lawn-mower motor
that he used as a countersink. Mr. Routley said he doubted the piece of
metal had sufficient weight to be used as a firing pin, and in light of
Mr. Heide's explanation he reduced the charge to a minor one. As to sentence,
Mr. Routley said, he felt a warning would be appropriate.
The IPSO office at Matsqui had not been directly involved in Mr. Heide's
transfer, and prior to the discovery of the alleged firing pin they had
no information on him. When I asked the charging officer why he thought
the piece of metal might have been a firing pin, he replied that he had
searched dozens of cells that week. When he found the items in Mr. Heide's
cell he didn't think too much about the piece of metal. While he was writing
up the charge, however, he looked at it again and thought it could be
in the process of being made into a firing pin. He had not come to any
definite conclusions, and that was why he had used the words "possible
firing pin." The officer had had no previous dealings with Mr. Heide and
had nothing to do with the transfer recommendation. Nobody had consulted
him after he filed the offence report.
I completed my investigation by talking to warden Brock about the case.
He told me that the lock-down and general search had resulted in the seizure
of about twenty shanks, which indicated to him a lamentable lack of contraband
control. When he was advised that the piece of metal in Mr. Heide's cell
was likely a firing pin for a zip gun, he felt no hesitation in determining
that a transfer to Kent was necessary and justified. In a climate of institutional
crackdown, a piece of metal for which there was a perfectly legitimate
explanation -- a countersink for hobby work -- had been re-imaged as a
"metal scribe which had been fashioned into what appeared to be a firing
pin for a zip gun." As a result, Mr. Heide -- whose record revealed a
recurring problem with impaired driving, and who was ninety days away
from the end of his sentence -- was elevated to a maximum security risk
as an arms manufacturer and confined in a segregation cell for twenty-one
days. When he was finally returned to Matsqui, he was placed in a double-bunked
cell; he had lost his job, and his pay level was reduced from four (the
maximum) to zero. Yet the same evidence, when placed under the scrutiny
of an Independent Chairperson, resulted in a rejection of the firing pin
theory and an appraisal of the other items found in the cell as warranting
only a minor charge deserving of nothing more than a warning.
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