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Doug Cassin, like Jim Mackie, was one of the first living unit officers to work at Kent Institution. He stayed until 1985 as a living unit supervisor. After several years at Mission and Elbow Lake Institutions, he returned to Kent in 1988 and worked there as a correctional supervisor until 1995. Mr. Cassin had a reputation as the toughest of the correctional supervisors at Kent, a reputation reinforced in no small measure by his physique. In the maximum security world, where weightlifting and physical strength are highly respected attributes, the fact that Doug Cassin was an accomplished weightlifter and could probably bench-press more than any prisoner had a certain cachet. In light of his reputation as a hard-rock officer, I asked Mr. Cassin how he responded to the Club Med view of prisons so prevalent in the media. The prisoners had television, they had Nintendo games, they could watch videos and get private family visits; did he believe that these changes were coddling prisoners? This is how he responded to that question:

I think I've said the same thing in my day, too, but when I take a realistic view, we don't have as many hostage-takings or smash-ups and assaults. But it is still a maximum security prison, and if an inmate causes too many problems he is still segregated. He may not be on a punishment diet and his cigarettes may not be taken away, but he is still put away from the main population. You know, I wouldn't want to be living here having my meals delivered on a cart and locked up for twenty-three hours a day. I've been through my share of the ruckus in prison, and I think for the most part it is a safer place for an officer to work now because of a lot of these things. I don't think the inmates are any better guys or less inclined to violence, but it doesn't erupt as much. The other part of my answer is that one of our mandates is to protect society. Protecting society, a lot of people think, is just keeping the inmates in the fence, but 99 per cent of these inmates are going back to the street. Now I'm not guaranteeing that because you let him watch television he's going to be a model citizen, but if you've got a guy where you've had him chained to a bed or locked up or you are fighting with him every day and you send him out on the street in that condition, and we've seen instances like that, you are not actually protecting anybody. (Interview with Doug Cassin, Kent Institution, September 1995)

The assessment that the recognition of prisoners' rights and the liberalization of prison regimes were hallmarks of a progressive system was not a unanimous one among correctional staff at Matsqui. Rick Cregg had spent thirteen years working in corrections, the first six in the provincial system at the now-demolished Oakalla jail and the last seven years in the federal system. At Matsqui his assignment as a correctional officer was a rotating shift in the Regional Reception and Assessment Centre (RRAC) and the segregation unit. Mr. Cregg described himself as a hard-liner when it came to prisons and prisoners, and he believed that the correctional system was now completely out of balance, with priority given to the rights and concerns of prisoners to the detriment of staff safety and morale. He saw the CCRA as a "pernicious" piece of legislation foisted on an unknowing public. As he characterized it, "It protects the rights of a bunch of low-life degenerates and the general public would be scandalized if they realized what the Act did in their name." In particular, Mr. Cregg faulted the manner in which the legislation had cast in stone matters previously left to administrative and operational discretion. He cited the daily requirement of one-hour yard time for prisoners in segregation. This had been policy under the Commissioner's Directives and staff had tried to do their best to provide it, he said, but there were circumstances in which it was not possible to do so; for example, if the segregation unit was understaffed or if there was an incident on the tier and prisoners were acting out. Under the CCRA, staff were required to give the one-hour exercise, even if in the process it compromised their safety. Mr. Cregg made no bones about the fact that, when faced with such a conflict, he favoured the safety of staff over the rights of prisoners.

The new legislation places the staff in handcuffs. They're not physically restrained but they are emotionally restrained in that the Act has put the fear in them that if they use violence against prisoners, they will face strong measures. They are likely to be subject to disciplinary action or court action by some lawyer using his Charter and the legislation against the staff. It used to be that we couldn't beat the cons enough, now it seems that we can't kiss their asses enough. (Interview with Rick Cregg, Matsqui Institution, August 12, 1993)

One theme of my interviews with senior correctional administrators was the impact of developments outside of prison, in the larger society, on the culture inside. Roger Brock, the warden of Matsqui Institution, began his correctional career at Matsqui as a summer student. After working in the Pilot Treatment Unit there, one of the first correctional programs to introduce intensive group and individual psychotherapy, he left the Correctional Service and completed a Master's degree in Social Work, specializing in social administration, social planning, and community development. He worked as a social worker in the Northwest Territories for a year but then returned to correctional work.

I was kind of a chronic recidivist; I missed working in institutions. There is something about them that gets in your blood . . . There is a certain intriguing thing about institutions that once you become aware that they are very much living, dynamic places where some of the worst things that you will ever see happen, but also some of the most profoundly moving things that I've ever seen have happened in institutions. I guess what I find about institutions is that everything I've ever learned in my life somehow I see played out on the stage in terms of this community. It is small enough that you can actually see the whole dynamic unfolding. There is a place that if you do understand the theory you really do get a clear understanding about what is going on. (Interview with Roger Brock, Matsqui Institution, September 6, 1995)

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