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Tuesday, August 24 - A Warden Takes Charge

The harsh reality of Mike Boileau's broken face was in the forefront of Warden Brock's agenda at the morning briefing the next day, August 24. He referred to "a deteriorating climate" at Matsqui, the attack on Mike Boileau being the most recent and serious example. He pointed to the incident the previous week in which a prisoner had been attacked with a weight bar by another prisoner on one of the breezeways, and stated that he had become increasingly concerned about reports of disrespectful behaviour by prisoners towards staff. Warden Brock informed his senior staff (the briefing was attended by the deputy warden, unit managers, heads of divisions, and some correctional supervisors, as well as myself) that it was time to take immediate and firm measures. Doug Richmond, acting deputy warden, informed the group that on Thursday there would be a strategy meeting with the institutional preventive security officers (IPSOs) and selected staff to share information and to identify those prisoners who were the instigators regarding drugs, muscling, home brew, and other problems in the institution. As Mr. Richmond put it, "It's only 5 per cent of the inmates who cause 95 per cent of all the problems." Warden Brock added, "The power we have over the inmates is in information and organization." He hoped the strategy identified by Doug Richmond would ensure that the institution used its information sources more effectively. He concluded with this comment: "There are certain times when you make decisions based upon gut reaction, and now is the time at Matsqui to take the institution by the scruff of its neck in order to get its problems under control."

A correctional supervisor briefed the meeting on events subsequent to the Boileau assault and reported that five prisoners had been "boxed" -- placed in segregation -- after they were heard by staff to make derogatory remarks suggesting their approval of the assault. The night before, in segregation, these prisoners had been loud and disruptive. Warden Brock stated, "They will not come out [of segregation] quickly and I want them charged." He also observed that, as a result of the planned crackdown on instigators, the institution would be needing all the space they could get in segregation, and therefore there was to be no tolerance of any disruptive activity there. If the five men kept it up, he wanted transfer packages written so they could be shipped to Kent. "There is to be zero tolerance for mouthing off in the institution." The warden ended his plan of action by stating that, in asking staff to come forward with information they had regarding troublemakers, he did not expect them to act as lawyers, with clear proof of guilt. In due course, the gist of this information would be shared with prisoners. Warden Brock, looking in my direction, characterized his approach as acting "in accordance with the duty to act fairly, quickly."

Following the morning briefing, I attended a further debriefing by an institutional psychologist for those who had been involved in the incident on Monday. The session provided me with important insights into the staff response to the events. Statements from the staff who had directly observed the confrontation between Dennis McLaren and Mike Boileau traced the following trajectory of events. Mr. McLaren had come into the case management building on a number of occasions earlier in the afternoon asking to see Mr. Boileau about his parole. He appeared to be getting increasingly worked up, and eventually the receptionist asked Mr. Boileau if he would see him. Mr. Boileau took Mr. McLaren into his office. Brian Furman, another case management officer, heard Mr. McLaren raise his voice several times, and so he kept his door open in case his assistance was needed. However, things seemed to calm down, and Mr. Furman closed his door to better concentrate on a report he was preparing. This was shortly after 3:00 p.m. After seeing Mr. McLaren, Mike Boileau left his office and went to the front of the case management building, followed by Mr. McLaren. There was a heated exchange between the two. Some papers that should have been prepared for a parole hearing had not been prepared, with the result that Mr. McLaren was not going to appear before the Parole Board at its next sitting at Matsqui. Mr. Boileau had taken over Mr. McLaren's case just three weeks before, and he was trying to explain that it was not his fault the paperwork had not been done. Mr. McLaren, for his part, was trying to explain his frustration that nothing had been done. Mr. McLaren became increasingly angry and was standing inches away from Mr. Boileau's face.

Tony Gagné, who was dictating a report in the interview room, came out upon hearing the raised voices, went up to Mr. McLaren, took him by the arm and told him to calm down, step outside and discuss what was happening. Mr. Gagné thought that Mr. McLaren was going to come with him. Instead Mr. McLaren ran at Mr. Boileau and hit him hard enough to knock him to the ground, splitting his nose open. Several of the clerks heard the sickening sound of bone crunching; the next thing they saw was blood all over the place. While Mr. Boileau was on the floor, Mr. McLaren kept punching him. Mr. Gagné jumped on Mr. McLaren and tried to drag him off. Eventually Mr. Gagné grabbed Mr. McLaren's hair, pulled him off Mr. Boileau, and ended up landing on his back with Mr. McLaren on top of him. At that point, Mr. Gagné told the debriefing, he and Mr. McLaren locked eyes, and Mr. Gagné thought that it was his turn to get hit. Mr. McLaren, however, made no move to hit him, allowed himself to be restrained, and was held over by the front desk until other security came onto the scene. In the course of the scuffle Mr. Gagné was hit on the cheek, but thought that this was done not by Mr. McLaren but by Mr. Boileau's knee..

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Warden Roger Brock