I was in the warden's office when Beth Parkinson phoned him, and he
invited me to stay and listen on the speaker phone to their conversation.
Ms. Parkinson read out the segregation notices of three of the prisoners,
Darryl Ghostkeeper, Ron Tessier, and Mike Miller. Mr. Tessier's and Mr.
Ghostkeeper's notices contained exactly the same wording: "alleged involvement
in illegal drugs and/or extortion." Mike Miller's referred merely to illegal
drugs. In Ms. Parkinson's opinion, these notices did not meet the requirements
of the CCRA, as they did not give the prisoner
sufficient information to meet the case against him. As she put it, "All
a prisoner can say in relation to these allegations is that they're not
true." In her view, what the institution should have provided in relation
to any prisoner's alleged involvement with drugs was the date on which
the incident was supposed to have happened and the information on the
type of drugs, the amount of drugs, and things of that nature. Warden
Brock explained that the action had been taken because there were indications
of rising tension in the institution in the form of assaults on staff
and prisoners and the increased use of brew and drugs; he had segregated
these prisoners on the basis of information that they were the principal
instigators. He told her that the allegations would be evaluated individually
and that this work would start on Monday.
Ms. Parkinson reminded him that under the CCR
Regulations, segregation review notices with sufficient information
had to be served within one working day of prisoners being placed in segregation
(which was the following Monday). If the men in question were to be seen
by the Segregation Review Board on the following Thursday for their mandatory
five-day reviews, the Regulations required
prisoners to receive three working days' notice of any material to which
the Segregation Review Board would refer; this meant that that information
also must be provided by the following Monday. She asked the warden to
confirm that the information would be given to the prisoners on Monday;
the warden said it would.
After this telephone conversation, the warden talked to me about the
difficulty of balancing legal requirements with the responsibility to
manage a safe institution. He said that if dynamic security -- information
flow and effective communication between staff and administration -- had
been operating properly, the IPSOs would have had properly documented
files to provide information to these prisoners as to why they were being
segregated. The reality was that this work had not been done, and clearly
there was a gap in the information-collection process at Matsqui Institution.
In effect, the warden was confirming my impression of the method used
at the tracking meeting, which was to identify the prisoners first, then
ask questions to fill in the gaps later.
Another observation I would make in assessing the warden's perception
that Matsqui was in a phase of escalating tension and increasing violence,
is that the two major incidents he cited could be seen more appropriately
as evidence of a different phenomenon: that is, the breakdown of some
operational systems of staff and management. Following the attack by one
prisoner on another with a weight bar, which had occurred the week before
the Boileau incident, it was revealed that the staff had received information
that this prisoner, while on parole, had assaulted the common-law wife
of the prisoner who was alleged now to have assaulted him; this first
prisoner should, therefore, never have been placed in the living unit.
Had this preventive action been taken, there would have been no assault.
One of the institutional psychologists shed further light on the attack
on Mr. Boileau by Mr. McLaren. The psychologist told me that Mr. McLaren
had had three different case management officers in the last two months,
all of whom were supposed to do the paperwork necessary for his parole
hearing. The first was someone who had just been made a case management
officer and had proved not up to the task. He was replaced by someone
in an acting position who had also not done the necessary work. She in
turn was replaced by Mike Boileau, who had been in the job for only three
weeks when the incident took place. Mike Boileau himself told the psychologist
that he could well understand why Mr. McLaren was upset and that he had
good reason for being so. This, of course, did not justify Mr. McLaren's
assault. But if the system had operated the way it was supposed to, Mr.
McLaren's paperwork would have been done in a timely manner, and the assault
would not have taken place. Both incidents, in other words, were preventable
and isolated, and really did not speak directly to the level of violence
at Matsqui Institution as a general phenomenon. Yet both incidents had
been used as evidence of the heightening of the biorhythm, to use the
warden's metaphor, which had to be topped to reduce it to a lower and
more tolerable level.
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