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As it does with the IONSCAN, the Correctional Service of Canada also places heavy reliance upon positive hits made by drug dogs. As with the IONSCAN such reliance can ride roughshod over visitors' protestations of innocence of any involvement with drugs. A case that arose at Mission Institution in 1998 is illustrative. On August 29, 1998, while Mrs. Martineau was visiting her husband, the drug dog handler reported to the IPSO that the dog indicated that Mrs. Martineau had the odour of narcotics on her person. Mrs. Martineau agreed to submit to a strip search or any other procedures the institution wished to conduct to demonstrate that she was not in possession of any drugs but her requests were rebuffed. Subsequently, she explained to the institutional authorities that she had allowed her son to use her car shortly before her visit to Mission Institution and that he had now admitted to her that he had smoked a joint in the car. That explanation made no difference to a three month ban on open visits. As I have described earlier in the book, it was Mr. Martineau's case in the 1970s that resulted in the judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada that correctional decisions must be made in conformity with the duty to act fairly. In her letter to the Visits Review Board Mrs. Martineau ably described the manner in which the suspension of her open visits with her husband contradicted what she had come to understand as fundamental principles of justice.

The Board is making decisions based on a belief that I was carrying narcotics. During my detainment and interrogation I requested many times that [the IPSO] or the RCMP do whatever procedures they felt necessary to prove that I was not in possession of narcotics. They refused. This now leaves me in the position of being treated as though I were guilty, yet I was given no chance to prove my innocence. In the outside world where I hold a responsible professional position, own my own home, and do everything else an ordinary Canadian citizen does, a person is innocent until proven guilty. I was disgusted to find that within the world of Corrections Canada, a person is guilty on suspicion, with no opportunity to prove his/her innocence. If your mandate is as you stated and [the IPSO] had suspicions that I was carrying contraband, then why wasn't everything possible done to find out the truth? I signed a document when I first started visiting which stated that I would submit to any procedures necessary to a contraband investigation, and I asked repeatedly and emphatically on August 29 that these procedures be carried out. Why weren't they? Is it easier for the Visitor Review Board to make decisions based only on suspicion? What about the truth? I know longer feel safe as a citizen visiting the Institution because my right to be innocent until proven guilty has been violated, and I am perceived as something very different than what I am.

The seam of injustice revealed in the Martineau case, as with the other cases I have reviewed in this chapter, are closely linked to the lack of an impartial and independent forum in which the reasonableness of the Institution's case for restricting important legal visiting rights is tested. Under the present procedures, visit review boards treat IONSCAN readings and drug dog reactions as irrefutable evidence of guilt, albeit only in an "administrative" sense of the word, and there is little that prisoners (or in rare cases, their lawyers) can say to defeat this presumption of administrative guilt. Furthermore, as illustrated by the Wilson case, where a challenge is made to a restriction on visits, it usually comes too late in the day to provide any relief from the imposition of the administrative sanctions. My review of Visit Review procedures at Kent reveals further evidence of the casual disposal of legal rights, redolent of the pre- CCRA regime in which visiting was a privilege. There is little talk at visit review boards of "rights-based discourse" and what little there is typically drowned out in the countervailing talk centred on the War on Drugs. The fact that the initial decisions on visiting status and the restrictions on open visits are made in the absence of the prisoner, compromises the fairness of the process and the prisoner's participation in a subsequent review of the decision hardly compensates for the initial unfairness. A strong bias for institutional concerns further dilutes fairness because of the heavy reliance on information provided by the IPSO's office which, based upon my observations, is often presented as a set of conclusions about suspected drug involvement and passes uncritically into the decision of the review board.

The injection of an Independent Chairperson into the deliberations of the visit review board would, as with segregation review, provide the necessary counterweight to these preferences and practices. The introduction of Independent Chairpersons would help bring visit reviews into a culture of rights as opposed to privileges. It would ensure that all relevant information has been reviewed and shared with the prisoner and their visitor prior to the review; guarantee that reviews are conducted with the full participation of the prisoner and visitor; require that any information put forward to support a restriction on visits is assessed for its reliability; impartially review the credibility of all evidence and place the appropriate burden on the administration to justify any restriction on visiting rights. Under a system in which independent adjudication was in place there would be very low tolerance for cases being deferred because, as so often happened at Kent, a month after a prisoner's transfer, files have still not been received from the transferring institution; there would not be a reflexive deference to IPSO information; IONSCAN and drug dog hits would not be assumed to be irrebutable proof of drug involvement, and the visit review process could not be so easily hijacked for strategic objectives such as the National Drug Strategy, without regard to procedural and substantive due process.

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