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The second phase of the proposed reincarnation of the phase program is, in the report's view:

the crucial phase . . . crucial in the sense that the inmate must demonstrate his ability to interact with others without violence by participating in the programs targeted in his correctional plan . . . This phase is indeterminate in length . . . based on the principle that the inmates who agreed to participate in the programs suggested in their correctional plan are compensated for their efforts by being treated differently than inmates who refuse to participate and who do not show any motivation to improve themselves . . . It goes without saying that this program phase still operates without direct contact between case workers and inmates. (at 44-5)

There is no further explanation as to why a no "direct contact" regime "goes without saying." This is all the more remarkable given that since 1990 the official C.S.C. policy has been to increase direct contact between staff and prisoner following the assessment phase and the report had already identified the 'no contact' philosophy as one which undermined prisoner confidence and trust in opening up to programming.

As to the content of programs in the new phase two, these would consist of the existing programs of employment, school, individual interviews for substance abuse programs. In addition, there would be three new proposed programs; the first would be an interpersonal skills program which would be aimed at all prisoners, the second would be aimed at sex offenders who had assaulted female staff members in other institutions resulting in their placement in the SHU and the third would be designed for Aboriginal prisoners including implementation of the special drug rehabilitation program designed for Aboriginal offenders.

In order to deal with the existing reality that one third of the prisoners in the SHU refused to become involved in programs, the report proposes that a policy of incentives for program participation be built into phase two. Some examples given of possible incentives are increased activity time, increased monthly telephone privileges, new games in the common room (for example, Nintendo, Gameboy etc..), supper in the common room, occasional videos and cable hook up to sports channels.

Having successfully completed phase two, by participation in those programs identified on his correctional plan, and having reached the point that his case management team is considering making a positive recommendation to the National Review Committee for his release from the SHU, the prisoner would be moved to phase three -- the pre-release phase. This phase would also be indeterminate in length and would include "a process of gradual and occasional direct contact with the case workers on an individual or group basis. The underlying principle is that inmates who are recommended for return to regular institutions must be assumable in situations where there is contact with staff, otherwise release from the SHU is not justified." (at 61) During this phase communication would begin with an institution to which the prisoner is to be sent to discuss specific points concerning his reintegration into a regular population. It is also proposed that incentives for program participation would continue during this phase.

Given the historic failure of the previous phase program it would be reasonable to expect the authors of the 1996 report to identify why they had confidence that their proposals would be successful in the contemporary reality of a single SHU located in Quebec, with a high percentage of Anglophone prisoners, where a significant part of the population boycotted programs, given their acknowledgement that with regard to programming, the CSC's "efforts being made today are erratic instead of continuous and homogeneous." (at 64) The report points to no objective or indeed subjective indices that things will or can change for the better. However, it does frankly recognise that "it would not be possible to achieve significant or positive results without the co-operation of employees in both the security and program areas" and "the main challenge definitely lies in the change of thinking involved in a more harmonious and complete integration of programs with correctional operations." (at 64 and 66) The report does not make any specific reference to the results of a questionnaire survey it administered to SHU staff members which showed a total split between correctional and professional staff on the question "Do you believe that the programs can reduce dangerousness?." Every correctional officer replied in the negative while the professionals responded in the affirmative subject to reservations regarding the prisoners' level of motivation. Given that the reality of the SHU is that the security environment has always overshadowed programming, short of changing all the correctional staff, what reasonable prospect exists for any realistic change in the equation between security and programs?

It is not in the least uncharitable to suggest that the 1996 SHU Program Committee Report demonstrates that when it comes to the Special Handling Units, the CSC has learned nothing and continues to resist acknowledging the realities of its super maximum security institutions. Those realities are that the SHU fulfils little function other than providing an additional punitive level of imprisonment, beyond maximum security, to those prisoners who on very broad criteria, interpreted differently from region to region, are deemed to be dangerous; that any reduction in this dangerousness which may occur during the stay in the SHU, is for reasons which have nothing whatsoever to do with the minimal programs offered to prisoners in the units.

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