Mr. Boileau had staggered out of the room where he had fallen, bleeding
extensively from the nose. Maria Parton, another of the case management
officers, explained that when she went into the washroom looking for paper
towels to stem the flow of blood, she remembered that you could stop blood
flow by pinching the nose. She tried to apply this technique, but Mr.
Boileau, who by this time was sitting on the floor, recoiled in pain.
This was the point at which I had first seen Mr. Boileau after hearing
the commotion. Several other security staff came into the building and
sat down by Mr. Boileau, trying to comfort him. He was still bleeding
profusely and was clearly in a state of shock. A nurse was called and
eventually he was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the prison hospital.
The staff there called for an ambulance, and he was taken to the MSA Hospital
in Abbotsford. He was treated for a fractured nose and cuts to his cheek
and the bridge of his nose.
The discussion in the second round of the debriefing centred on the
helplessness felt by a number of staff. The female clerks and receptionist
talked about their vulnerability. "What would have happened," they asked,
"had Mr. McLaren gone after one of us?" The receptionist, who was employed
as a temporary worker through an agency and had no special training for
the job, talked about her concerns as the person who often had to tell
prisoners that they could not see their case management officer, either
because the officer did not want to see the prisoner or because the officer
was unavailable. There had been another incident the year previous in
which a prisoner came over the desk at the entrance; although the receptionist
at the time had escaped injury, the assault of Mr. Boileau clearly revived
concerns about staff vulnerability.
I was impressed by the fact that debriefing had become a regular procedure
for staff who experienced incidents that could give rise to post-traumatic
stress. The opportunity for the staff to revisit their experiences and
hear others express their feelings had a reassuring impact. The solicitude
for staff welfare must, however, be contrasted with the response to those
prisoners who observed, from their cells, Mr. Boileau being wheeled out,
bleeding, and were alleged to have made remarks suggesting they derived
pleasure from the fact that an officer had been assaulted. These comments
were met with the immediate response of placing the men in segregation.
The comments made by the prisoners were clearly insensitive. As an example,
one of the prisoners was heard to say, "It looks good on you." In trying
to understand such callousness, it should be remembered that more than
a few of the prisoners I interviewed at Matsqui had bitter memories of
being the subject of what they viewed as unprovoked assaults by prison
officers and police officers; seeing a staff member suffer the same fate
may have revived some of these memories. Post-traumatic stress works both
ways. Yet the response of the institutional authorities was not to involve
the prisoners in debriefing but to place them in segregation. While this
might be justified on the basis of trying to prevent the spread of anti-authoritarian
sentiment among the prison population at a critical moment, the more understandable
explanation is that the staff were genuinely incensed at the insensitivity
demonstrated by the prisoners. The decision to segregate these prisoners
was not so much a principled decision based upon the need to prevent further
violence but rather a visceral reaction based upon anger.
In the course of the debriefing, I heard that one of the prisoners taken
to segregation after the assault was Dave Humphries. I was surprised to
hear this, because I had interviewed Mr. Humphries the previous week,
and he had emphasized that he was impressed with how many staff had demonstrated
real compassion for his situation and had gone out of their way to help
him. Moreover, he had just been granted a day parole to Sumas Centre,
which was due to go into effect the following week. Why would someone
who spoke so respectfully about staff and was on the verge of leaving
the institution commit an act that likely to jeopardize any chance of
release? On my way up to segregation to interview Mr. Humphries again,
I was stopped by another prisoner who told me that the remark the staff
had attributed to Mr. Humphries -- "It looks good on you" -- had actually
been made by him and that he was prepared to go to the warden and tell
him that, because it was not fair that Mr. Humphries had been "scooped"
for something he had not done.
When I interviewed Mr. Humphries, he seemed genuinely shocked to find
himself placed in segregation on the eve of being paroled. He explained
that on Monday afternoon he had been told by another prisoner that a staff
member had been assaulted and that there was going to be a lockdown. Mr.
Humphries went to his cell before this occurred. This was his normal pattern,
because he did not like to have the doors closed on him -- he preferred
to do it himself. He watched a television program, and then at about 5:00
p.m. his door flew open and a bunch of officers came in, told him to stand
up, pushed him against the wall, had him spread his legs, and handcuffed
him behind his back. He asked why and was told he would learn that soon
enough. On the way down to segregation he asked again why he was being
taken to the hole. He was told that "diarrhoea of the mouth is just as
bad" and that he would be notified of the reasons for his being in segregation
in due course. At around 10:00 p.m. he was given a segregation review
notice, which stated that he had been heard making a derogatory remark
after a staff member had been hurt.
On my way down from the segregation unit on Tuesday I spoke briefly
with Mike Csoka, the correctional supervisor for the segregation unit.
Mr. Csoka stated that he had some reservations about Dave Humphries' involvement
and that he, too, had heard another prisoner was volunteering he was the
culprit. Mike Csoka thought this was believable, since the other prisoner
was the type of person who would make that kind of comment. I then met
with Darryl Ghostkeeper, the chairman of the Inmate Committee (elected
by the prison population, with a mandate o represent the interests of
prisoners in dealing with CSC management), who told me that he had already
had a meeting with the warden and had raised the Committee's concern that
Mr. Humphries was being unfairly kept in segregation. He had also raised
with the warden the fact that Mr. Badari, one of the other prisoners taken
to segregation, alleged that the guards who took him to segregation used
unnecessary force and after he was handcuffed had smashed him into one
of the barriers.
I went to the correctional operations room in search of Acting Deputy
Warden Doug Richmond, and on my way met Warden Brock heading in the same
direction for an end-of-the-day briefing. He invited me to attend. At
the meeting the warden brought up the Inmate Committee's concern that
unreasonable force had been used against prisoner Badari in taking him
to segregation, and reported that he had requested a senior staff member
from the Regional Psychiatric Centre be sent over to conduct an internal
investigation into the allegation. Mr. Richmond, in reviewing the information
received during the day, commented that although he had been told that
the prisoner who made the derogatory remark was not Mr. Humphries, the
staff member who had reported it, the hobby officer, was quite clear in
her mind that following the derogatory statement someone had laughed out
loud, that it was a deep laugh, and that it was Mr. Humphries'. Before
leaving the institution I went to the walkway outside the case management
building and looked up to the third floor, the floor where Dave Humphries'
cell was located. I had difficulty seeing how anyone standing on the walkway
could identify who had made a statement or laughed on the third floor,
particularly at a time when emotions were heated. .
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