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The Case for Legal Training

The analytic trail I have followed in the past few pages is not one that a correctional supervisor or a unit manager can be expected to know in the absence of legal training. Officer Noon-Ward attended a session of "CSC and the Law" for the first time several months after the exceptional search. Even at that point the instructor, a CSC staff member not legally trained, dealt with the issues of search in general terms and would have been unable to provide even the main signposts on the trail I have charted. The fact of the matter is that the CSC's efforts to provide some legal training for its staff -- precipitated by the indictment of the Arbour Report -- are not adequate for the task at hand. It is not that CSC staff have to be sent to law school, but the infusion of a culture of legality requires more than providing staff facilitators with a few days of training and then expecting them to conduct workshops with line staff and administrators that give a sufficient grasp of the Charter of Rights and the CCRA to enable them to translate Charter values and legal principles into the practices of their day-to-day work.

During the Task Force on Administrative Segregation's visits to Mission Institution in 1996, Warden Ken Peterson had commented: "the CSC has done a good job of giving its staff ongoing training in the use of firearms but has neglected training them in the use of the law, even though it is the law and not guns that they draw upon the most." "CSC and the Law" training sessions have since been introduced, but the analogy drawn by Warden Peterson is still a useful. Correctional staff need more than a knowledge of what the search provisions of the CCRA and CCR Regulations specify. Staff must gain an appreciation of how correctional law evolved as part of an endeavour to reflect Charter values and, in the case of search provisions, to achieve a principled balance between privacy, dignity, safety, and security. Many staff still believe the CCRA operates as a set of legal handcuffs on correctional operations. Consequently, as with any other kind of handcuffs, there is great incentive to try to wriggle out of them when they cut too tight. Well-conceived and well-executed legal training would have little difficulty demonstrating that the legislation is not there to handcuff staff or to place correctional decision-making in a straitjacket; it is to ensure that the experience of justice which sustains democracy outside of prison is not abandoned when the keeper and the kept encounter each other inside.

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