The Grievance System -- Through the Eyes of a Prison
In Sector 1, I traced the legal and administrative provisions establishing
the Office of the Correctional Investigator (CI) and the inmate grievance
process. Since 1973, the CI has produced an annual report which is filed
with the Solicitor General. The dominant theme of these reports has been
the CSC's lack of responsiveness, both internally and externally, to the
CI's recommendations. Inger Hansen (now Judge Hansen) served as Canada's
first Correctional Investigator, from 1973 to 1976. She was succeeded
by Ron Stewart, who has held the position ever since. In his first report,
Mr. Stewart addressed this lack of responsiveness:
There is an overwhelming tendency within the Service
to "cover" for one another, a practice which makes the job of the Correctional
Investigator more difficult than it should be. There is less difficulty
when a recommendation is applied to the grassroots level; the response
received from the institutions is usually fairly good. A problem occurs
when an ombudsman is not successful at this level and must move up the
The director [warden] and other supervisory levels
are often caught in the trap of having to back staff to retain support.
This attitude is detectable even in Ottawa. There is no doubt that in
any organization it is desirable for supervisors to support employees,
but not when it perpetrates mismanagement and poor administration. This
office dealt with cases where even the most simple recommendations met
opposition. It often appeared that administrators were reluctant to make
a change because it was a change. I am under no illusion that a recommendation
by this office is the ultimate answer but I am troubled when a recommendation
is rejected because clearly either my letter was not read or not understood.
Frequently, the replies bear no relationship to the problems described
in my letters. ( Annual Report of the Correctional
Investigator, 1977-78 [Ottawa: Information Canada, 1978] at 3)
The first annual report of the CI, in 1973-74, had contained extensive
discussion of the conditions in segregation and recommended a special
study on its use. A decade later, the 1984-85 report focussed on double-bunking.
One of the most serious problems that we have encountered
is that of double-bunking and especially in segregated cells where in
some cases inmates are confined for more than 23 hours a day. Life in
a segregation or dissociation cell is hell at the best of times; however,
we are aware that in some institutions because of staff shortages they
are unable to provide such basics as daily showers and the minimum one
hour exercise per day for inmates in these special cells. The problem
is of course compounded when these cells hardly big enough for one man
(a) that the Correctional Service of Canada review its present segregation/dissociation
operations to ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements
enunciated in the Commissioner's Directives;
(b) that the Correctional Service of Canada cease immediately the practice
of double-bunking in segregation and dissociation areas.
After a lengthy delay of almost three months we received from the Inspector
General comments of the Deputy Commissioner Offender Programs but there
was no mention of the review we had recommended. Instead we were advised
that the last six months had been spent drafting explicit policies and
guidelines regarding administrative segregation which included minimum
standards for showering, exercise, visits, etc. As
well, to ensure compliance, [that] a "Manager, Administrative Segregation"
had been appointed at the National Headquarters and that a Regional Co-ordinator
had been appointed in each Region to assist in the implementation of the
new policies and procedures. Also, that workshops had been held to familiarize
staff and that future monitoring would address the type of problem outlined
in the recommendation.
As for the second part of the recommendation, it was agreed that double-bunking
in dissociation was undesirable, that the issue was to be presented to
the Dissociation Policy Board for consideration and that we would be advised
of the status of part (b) by October 31, 1984 . . .
[In March 1985] I was advised that the Senior Management Committee had
approved in principle my recommendation but that it would probably take
a long time to resolve. Would I consider the matter complete? However
after reading a copy of the Senior Management Committee minutes which
indicated that double-bunking was not about to cease I certainly was not
about to consider the matter closed.
It is interesting to note that according to the Correctional Service
of Canada statistics there were 124 inmates double-bunked in segregation
when the recommendation was made in June, 1984. As of January 30, 1985
that number had increased to 198.
It still remains my position that it is inhumane to lock two people
up in one cell twenty-three hours a day, especially when you have cells
in the general population which are not double-bunked and so I re-submitted
the matter, this time to the Commissioner of Corrections.
Unfortunately, the recommendation has not been implemented because of
the acute shortage of cells in most institutions. ( Annual
Report of the Correctional Investigator, 1984-85 [Ottawa: Supply
and Services Canada, 1985] at 19-20, emphasis added)
A careful reading of the passage I have italicized is instructive. The
reform offered to the Correctional Investigator in 1984 to address systemic
problems in administrative segregation was the appointment of regional
and national co-ordinators and staff training workshops. Fast-forwarding
a dozen years, we find that the Commissioner of Corrections, faced with
his own Task Force's report documenting continuing systemic problems in
segregation, rejects the recommendation for an experiment in independent
adjudication in favour of the appointment of regional co-ordinators of
segregation and more staff training workshops.
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