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Mr. Dick summed up his view on the issue with an appeal to the "real-politik" of the situation:

There are times when political considerations -- and there's no doubt that given public attitudes about spousal assault this is a very political issue -- require that we do certain things even if we feel that the law may not be on our side and then leave it to the courts to direct us to do something different. Given the implications of this issue and in light of what already has happened, if I have to speculate on what's going to happen in this case, I'm going to speculate on the side of safety.

Mr. Dick was here referring to an incident in 1993 involving a Kent prisoner, Mr. Williams, who was charged with first degree murder of his wife in the private family visit trailer at Kent as a result of an overdose of heroin. It was alleged that Mr. Williams injected his wife with the drug. The incident has caused much concern and generated considerable media attention because Mr. Williams met his wife through an advertisement he placed in the personal columns in a British magazine. The respondent wrote back and corresponded with Mr. Williams and then came out to visit him, resulting in their marriage inside the prison. There has been much embarrassment arising from the fact that Mr. Williams was able to make contact with someone in this way without disclosing that he was a prisoner. Of course, that became clear to the respondent in due course and she married Mr. Williams with full knowledge of his history and criminal record but nevertheless her death in the private family visit trailers, the first of its kind in Canada, has left its imprint.

At this point Ms. Shadbolt asked whether I could give my views on this and step outside my role as a researcher. I told the board that I would approach the case in the following way. Under the scheme of the CCRA, prisoners have a right to visit subject to reasonable limits for protecting the security of the penitentiary or the safety of persons. The legislation and regulations also incorporate the principle of the least restrictive measure necessary to address security or safety concerns. Using that framework, the onus would be on the institution to demonstrate that there was a reasonable basis for believing that the security of Mrs. Smith was in jeopardy (there being no issue in this case regarding the security of the penitentiary). It seemed to me that Mr. Smith's history of abuse against other women, including the murder of his second wife for which he was convicted, although that conviction was under appeal, was some evidence which could support the institution's reasonable grounds for concern and that this had justified referring the case to the institutional psychologist. The psychologist had now directed his mind to this particular relationship and, having reviewed Mr. Smith's history and having listened to a tape of their conversations (which the V&C staff felt was representative of their usual interaction in open visits), had determined that in his opinion there was no reasonable basis upon which to believe that Mr. Smith would, in the context of a private family visit, assault his wife. In light of that it seemed that it would be difficult to justify continued suspension of these visits. On the other hand, the psychologist had pointed out that in a situation where there was the potential for abuse, it was important that the potential victim be given an avenue of escape and that several ideas had been put forward to address this issue; the one being the telephone monitoring during the private family visit to check in to see whether Mrs. Smith was under any apprehension, and the other being the installation of panic alarms. These strategies were clearly a less restrictive measure to ensure the safety of Mrs. Smith than the prohibition of private family visits which might only aggravate tensions between the couple.

Ms. Galloway suggested that if Mrs. Smith was asked during her visit, either in person or on the telephone, whether she felt safe, she would probably say "yes" regardless of whether it was true, in order to protect her husband. I asked Ms. Galloway (who had worked with victims of family violence in the community) what she would feel would be the appropriate thing to do for someone in Mrs. Smith's situation in the community who came to her group for advice. If the woman, despite her knowledge of her husband's potential for violence, wished to continue the relationship with him, what sort of protective measures would she recommend? These measures could also be reasonable limits in the context of prison. In a prison situation the institution certainly had an obligation to ensure that the visitor was aware of the prisoner's history and should offer the woman appropriate counselling but ultimately, if she wished to see her husband in the privacy of a family visit situation, then that was both her and her husband's right. In some ways the environment in the private family visit trailer was much more controlled and much more protective of the safety of the visitor than would be the situation in the community. The institution could check on the situation during the visit, either personally or by telephone, and the prisoner would be aware that the risks of being detected if he did assault his wife were much higher in the PFV trailers than they were on the street or in the privacy of their home; in this way the institution environment already provided a measure of protection not available on the street.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Dick and Ms. Galloway were not persuaded that they could recommend resumption of the private family visits. Mr. Long, the other V&C Officer, and the Social and Cultural Development Officer felt that the visits should be reinstated but that they should start with a 24 hour visit. Ms. Shadbolt did not declare herself. She said that she would try to reflect the tenor of the discussion in a memorandum which she would send to warden for his decision. Mr. Dick concluded the discussion with the comment that he did not think there was any way warden would approve of this one.

On July 8, 1994, the outstanding issue of Mr. Smith's private family visits with his wife was resolved. Following the extended discussion before the visit review board in May, Ms. Shadbolt had outlined the nature of the discussion and the divided opinions of the board. The warden had decided to continue the suspension of the private family visits until the completion of a further community assessment on Mr. Smith's wife, and confirmation that there had been discussions with her regarding her avenues of escape in the private family visits trailer. In the meantime, Mr. Smith had filed an application in Federal Court challenging the continued suspension of his private family visits. July 8th was the day set for the filing of the Institution's defence to the court application. No defence was filed, but on that same day warden approved the return of Mr. Smith's private family visits. I was advised by Ms. Shadbolt that this decision had been made following the completion of the community assessment and was not related to the law suit.

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