location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 5 / Chapter 5 Super Max to Club Fed: The Journey from Outlawry / Title Super Max to Club Fed


Shortly after I began my work at Kent Institution in 1994, Gary Weaver was placed in the segregation unit there and informed that he was being considered for a transfer to the Special Handling Unit. Mr. Weaver was twenty-five years old and had served five years of a life sentence for second-degree murder. He had spent the entire period in either maximum security or the Special Handling Units, including a significant amount of time in segregation. Between April 1994 and September 2001, I interviewed Gary Weaver on twelve occasions, and the transcripts of those interviews run close to 600 pages. Our interviews were supplemented by many informal conversations. I also reviewed his extensive correctional files. During the seven-year span of our interviews Mr. Weaver traversed the length and breadth of the carceral archipelago: he was transferred from Kent to the Special Handling Unit in Quebec, then returned to Kent, completed the Violent Offender Program at the Regional Health Centre, crossed the Strait of Georgia to the medium security William Head Institution and received approval from the National Parole Board for a series of escorted temporary absence passes. Three days after his first pass -- marking the first occasion he had been outside of prison in ten years -- he was placed in segregation for an alleged assault on another prisoner. He spent the next eighty days protesting his innocence, before being released on the eve of a habeas corpus court hearing challenging his detention.

While traversing this difficult terrain, Gary Weaver developed his talents as an artist, became a practising Buddhist, found a soulmate and struggled to change his values from those of an outlaw to those of a man with a realistic, realizable future outside of prison. Along the way he encountered the full spectrum of the discretionary forces Justice behind the Walls has addressed; therefore, the recounting of his journey provides a final opportunity to unravel the DNA of contemporary imprisonment and determine whether justice is part of its genetic imprint.

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