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Similar Acts, Different Sentences -- Kent and Matsqui Compared

I would also come to observe disparities between the sentences imposed at Matsqui and Kent for similar offences. The most glaring of these was in the standard sentence for a first offence of possession of brew. At Matsqui, Mr. Routley’s standard sentence was 30 days’ segregation suspended for 90 days; at Kent it was 30 days’ hole time, with no suspension. Yet even though the sentence was more severe at Kent, the institutional practice there upon discovering a brew was more lenient, insofar as prisoners were not taken to the hole unless they were threatening, out of control, or unstable in some way. A lighter sentence was imposed at Matsqui, yet the response upon detection and apprehension of the prisoner was more severe, with prisoners automatically being placed in segregation until the next day and, in a good number of cases, until they made their first appearance in disciplinary court. This was the very reverse of the practice one would expect. To the extent that possession of brew was perceived to be a less serious concern to institutional security at Matsqui than at Kent, because Matsqui is medium security, it would seem logical that placing prisoners in segregation upon the discovery of a brew would be done on a very selective basis. In fact, at Matsqui, the placement of prisoners in segregation was a punitive "administrative" response inconsistent with the ultimate "disciplinary" response, which in the absence of a previous record was a non-segregation sentence.

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