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AL: All of the coverage of the shooting incident at Kingston General
Hospital by Millhaven Institution inmate Corey Ward has tended to
focus, understandably, on the effects it has had on the Hospital: staff
are feeling “traumatized” and “violated” according to Dr.
David Messenger, an emergency room doctor and head of the Queen’s
University department of emergency medicine. The
danger to other patients, the shock and fear of patients, their families and friends, and staff, and the need to bring in counselors and support all those deeply upset by the shooting, has been emphasized – again, understandably. The
Kingston-Whig
Standard
ran
with a story November 21
about the security and policy
changes that may take place at the Hospital, as well.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has told the press that both officers feel “shaken up” by the incident, while Correctional Service of Canada officially praised the escort team for being “very diligent and professional.” Ward’s criminal record – 10 years for uttering death threats, violent assault and assaulting a police officer in 2012 – has been released as well.

This local story interests
me for a few other reasons. Initial reports from
CTV via the Canadian Press said Ward was “found unconscious”
in his cell –
this is why he was brought to emergency. But
unconscious
from what? Why? During his arraignment, Ward
asked for a 30-day psychiatric assessment and
complained
that his medications were being withheld – was he on medication?
For what? Is that connected to the medical emergency in his cell?  He
was charged with attempted murder and firing with intent. but
aside from the initial reports saying the firearm was discharged
during a struggle (it’s not unknown for guns to be fired
accidentally during such a situation) and not aimed at anyone
directly, there is no publicly available evidence to back up these
charges. The
Kingston Police claim the escape was not premeditated, either. Again,
during his arraignment, Ward shouted out: “they
[the
correctional officers]
took the cuffs off me and dared me to attack them.”
This
may be a post-hoc justification, of course, and perhaps his escort did nothing of the sort, but given the history and
current relationship between staff and inmates at Millhaven – not
good is an understatement – this is not out of the realm of the possible.

Ward is being transferred to the Regional Reception Centre
in Saint-Anne-Des-Plaines, Quebec, which also houses the super-max Special
Handling Unit – a punitive measure without a doubt. This will also make his legal defense more difficult. Finally,
during the few seconds Ward was taped by CTV being dragged into the
courtroom by the Emergency Response Team escort (doing their best
security theatre routine) he yelled something about “suicide” and
Ashley Smith.” What was he trying to say? Why has this not been
reported on by the CBC or the Whig-Standard in their coverage? Does
this not bear further investigation, that an inmate, no matter how
violent or dangerous, might have a strong historical and communal
understanding of the connection between prison conditions, mental health and suicide?

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“Since 1977, the Service has operated separate units for those inmates who are considered to seriously threaten the safety of others. Originally, Special Handling Units were established within Millhaven Institution and the Correctional Development Centre. These units were subsequently replaced by purpose-built facilities at Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Regional Reception Centre (Quebec).

A relatively small number of inmates, because of their violent behaviour in the institutions, have demonstrated that they require controls beyond those found within a maximum security institution. Since the inception of special handling/high maximum security units, 558 inmates (to 1989.10.05) have been
incarcerated in these units. In general, these inmates are more likely to have been sentenced for a violent crime (only 15 had no previous record of violence), more likely to commit indictable violent acts while incarcerated, and more likely to commit violent acts when released than is the rest of the offender population. Specifically, this small group of individuals have been involved in 974 staff and inmate assaults within the institutions, 155 murders, 44 attempted murders, and 208 hostage incidents.

WHAT IS NEEDED
Violence within the institutions cannot be tolerated. Those inmates who commit violent acts must be removed from the normal inmate population and subjected to increased controls until such time as they indicate that they can control their violent behaviour and return to normal association. During the period of removal from the normal inmate population, the inmate must be required to address his violent tendencies, and thus, the Service must provide him the means to do SQ.

It is important to note that the removal of the violent inmate from the normal inmate population serves two purposes. Firstly, it reinforces the Service’s stance that violent acts will not be tolerated, providina a denunciation of violence. Secondly, it reduces the risk of violence in the institutions, creating an
environment in which staff and inmates can interact with a reasonable assurance of safety and in which an active intervention approach is tenable. 

OPTIONS CONSIDERED
A number of methods of removing inmates from the population were examined. The approaches considered were: punitive dissociation; administrative segregation; transfer to another institution; transfer to a Regional Psychiatric or Treatment Centre; and transfer to the currently existing high maximum security units. As well, a more controlled maximum security institution and a small hiah maximum security unit in each region were considered. It was the consensus of the committee that these approaches met neither the needs of the violent inmates nor the responsibilities of the Service in relation to these inmates.

PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE
It is recommended that a regime be established for the violent inmates, which will provide both reasonable controls and programming designed to meet their specific needs, especially those related to their violent behaviour. Such a regime could be implemented in the existing high maximum security facilities. 

I. WHO SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO A SPECIAL UNIT?
A Service-wide policy of “zero tolerance” is warranted for homicide, hostage-taking, and serious assault. All inmates who commit these acts of violence should be automatically transferred to the special unit for a set period of time during which a comprehensive assessment would,be undertaken. The assessment would be used to determine whether the inmate requires the intervention and controls afforded by the regime established in the unit or whether other options such as placement in a Regional Psychiatric Centre are viable. 

Other inmates who commit less serious acts of violence, who are strongly suspected of committing a violent act, who make serious threats, or who otherwise show a propensity for violence may be considered for transfer to a special unit, if such a transfer is determined to be the only viable option to ensure the safety of others. If transferred to the special unit, these inmates would remain in the unit for a set period to undergo a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the inmate should remain in the unit for treatment or whether other options should be pursued. 

II. DIFFERENTIATION OF VIOLENCE
Violent behaviour is symptomatic of a variety of underlying causes. Violent inmates can be considered as falling within one of the following broad categories:

i) those who are.psychiatrically disturbed;
ii) those who are behaviourally disordered; and
iii) those who resort to violence to achieve their own objectives.

These different underlying causes of violence have implications for any program regime for the affected inmates.

i) The psychiatrically disturbed inmates must have access to appropriate treatment. This treatment could be provided bv Regional Psychiatric Centres or by provincial psychiatric institutions. However, the transfer of these violent and unpredictable inmates to these facilities would likely prove disruptive and hinder or curtail treatment programs for others. – Therefore, it is recommended that a psychiatric wing be created within the unit designated for violent inmates.

ii) Behaviourally disordered inmates are those with fundamental control problems, whether they lack internal behavioural controls or whether they choose not to apply any control. Included in this group are inmates who react explosively to situations, those who act impulsively, and those who act violently under the influence of an intoxicant. An appropriate regime for these inmates must combine a decrement of external controls while fostering the development of internalized behaviour control. Specific programming approaches should include components such as conflict resolution, anger management, and alcohol and drug treatment.

iii) Functionally violent inmates are those who consciously and deliberately resort to violence as a means of achieving their own objectives. These inmates may use violence to effect an escape, to collect debts, or to intimidate others; Many of these individuals are capable of participating in prescribed activities but it is difficult to assess their commitment to altering their violent behaviour. These inmates should be constructively occupied and should be counselled to reject violence as a means of accomplishing goals. 

III. CONTROL
It is evident that any regime for the management of violent inmates must have an element of control. These inmates have demonstrated by their violent behaviour that they require control beyond that found in a normal maximum security institution.

However, the controls should be no more restrictive than that required to ensure a reasonable level of safety for staff and inmates. Although inmates may initially be subjected to severely restricted freedom of movement and association, these
restrictions should be gradually lifted as the inmates show that they can behave more responsibly.

Restraint equipment should be applied on an exceptional basis, only for those inmates whose performance indicated a need for such control. Face-to-face contact, free of barriers, is a vital element of any counselling’or treatment program. Staff safety in such situations can be assured through a team approach or interviews can be conducted across a table with the staff member’s back to the door if necessary. 

V. ASSESSMENT
Each inmate transferred to the special unit would be required to undergo a comprehensive assessment in order to determine an appropriate intervention strategy and the required level of control. In view of the high incidence of mental disorders revealed bv the “Mental Health Survey of Federally Incarcerated
Offenders”, psychological and psychiatric components to the assessment are crucial. As a result of this assessment, a detailed correctional treatment plan to specifically address the inmate’s violent behaviour would be prepared for and with the inmate, clearly defining expectations of and potential outcomes for the inmate. The ultimate objective of the plan should be correcting the violent behaviour so that the inmate may return to a normal population at the earliest reasonable time. A critical element of the plan would be in which institution, treatment facility or special unit the intervention strategy would be most effective. Therefore, at this point, a decision would be made to transfer the inmate from or to retain him in the special unit. If the inmate is transferred, the receiving facility would be expected to use the correctional treatment plan developed following assessment as a base document. 

VI. PROGRAM SCOPE
Programming within the special unit should be designed to assist the inmate in addressing his need to change his behaviour, to allow him to participate in constructive activities, and to allow him to demonstrate increasing capacity to interact with others with decreased controls. The following elements are considered as essential programming components:

• psychiatric and psychological intervention;
• treatment programs, such as anger management, conflict resolution, or substance abuse treatment;
• employment opportunities ranging from in-cell activities to a workshop setting;

personal development opportunities, such as living skills, self-help groups, or culturally-based activities;
• recreational opportunities designed to foster effective use of leisure time;
• pastoral counselling. 
….

CONCLUSIONS
1. The Service needs a special facility for the control and treatment of violent inmates. The current approach and operation of the high maximum security units does not adequately address the needs of those individuals.

2. All inmates who commit murder, hostage-taking, or serious assault will be transferred to such a facility for assessment.

3. Other inmates who demonstrate a propensity for violence may be considered for placement alternatives, including transfer to the facility.

4. An individualized correctional treatment plan will be developed to specifically address the causes of the violent behaviour, prescribe treatment options, and outline a plan for return to a normal population at the earliest possible time.

5. Psychiatrically disturbed violent inmates require separate and special intervention within the facility.

6. Participation in programming and-success in addressing identified needs will determine transfer to normal population.

7. The operation of the facility shall include:

a) comprehensive assessment capability to identify the causes of the inmate’s violence;
b) active intervention with inmates to encourage them to address their violent behaviour;
c) capacity to address the individual needs of inmates with psychiatric problems; d) the lowest level of control possible; restraint equipment to be used only as response to threatening or violent behaviour and based on individual assessment of risk; .
e) open contact among staff and inmates;
f) a team approach to programming involving case management, security, program staff and the inmate;
g) incentives to encourage and motivate constructive use of time;
h) ongoing staff training to increase awareness/understanding of violent behaviour and appropriate intervention techniques; and
I) the maintenance of clear and close links with case workers responsible for the follow-up with the violent inmates in the normal institutions.

8. Admission to and release from the facility will be determined by a committee with national authority.”

High Maximum Security: A Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Correctional Service of Canada, 1989. 

Photographs: Special Handling Unit and

Regional Reception Centre at Saint-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec, 1986-87.

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“Inside Kingston Penitentiary – Ten Years After Canada’s Most Infamous Prison Riot,” Saturday Night. September 1981. Pages 34 & 35.

Part onePart two.

.

 

TERRY Decker, Thirty-Six, Was Attacked and Taken Hostage During The 1971 riot. ‘First they moved us into an air duct. They kept us there for a couple of hours. Then they started locking us away, three to a cell. They made us take off our uniforms and put on inmate clothing. They figured there wouldn’t be any trouble if the people outside didn’t know who was an inmate and who wasn’t. They moved us every couple of hours from one range to another. I don’t know if they did it to confuse our guys, or the inmates who might have wanted to get at us.’

The hostages were treated with an unpredictable mixture of violence and consideration. ‘I was punched pretty good,’ says Decker. ‘They flattened a disc in my back and burst a blood vessel in my eyeball.’ At the same time, he and the other hostages were given double rations. ‘If the inmates got one sandwich, we got two. And tobacco – we had more than we could ever have smoked. I have no complaints there.’ Decker was released as a show of good faith during the negotiations. He’d been held for forty hours. ‘As I was coming out, one lifer said to me, ‘It pays not to be a dog, eh?’

Four months after the incident, he returned to work. He required extensive physiotherapy and cortisone shots in the spine, but since 1973 his health has been sound. Of the six guards held hostage, Decker is the only one who still works in security – he’s now at Collins Bay penitentiary. Two of the hostages have died; one quit; one took a medical pension; one works as a groundskeeper at Millhaven. Only a portion of the prison has been restored. Several ranges have never been reopened, and the top two tiers of the functioning ranges remain sealed off. Prior to posing for this photograph, Decker had not set foot in the part of the prison where he was held hostage since the riot ten years ago. ‘I was in fear for my life all the time.’

‘THERE’S No Call For This Trade Outside,’ Says The Instructor In the Mail bag repair shop, where these inmates were photographed during a coffee break, ‘but it helps the guys do their time and provides a few dollars for upkeep.’ Last year inmates in the shop repaired five thousand bags a week. The penitentiary earns a dollar for each mailbag it repairs, but eighty four cents goes to materials. Work programmes at Kingston – like hobby and recreational activities – are curtailed by outdated facilities. The only work of rehabilitative value is data processing. Inmates are coding the records of the National Museum of Science and Technology into computer banks. ‘We’re going to get a lot more terminals,’ says Andrew Graham, the warden. ‘It’s a popular programme, and it’s a skill that’s very much in demand on the street.’

Inmates used to be paid a pittance. Last May, however, the federal pay scale was revised to coincide with civilian minimum wage rates, less the eighty-five percent of income that Statisticcs Canada calculates a single man would spend on food, lodging, and clothes. Depending on the nature of his work, a prisoner in a federal institution came between $3.15 and $5.90 a day in maximum security, $3.70 and $6.45 in medium, and $4.80 and $7.55 in minimum. Twenty-five per cent of his pay is withheld as compulsory savings. An inmate serving a lengthy sentence now has the opportunity of returning to civilian life with a few thousand dollars, rather than a few hundred.

There are good reasons for the graduate pay scale. The first is the cost of incarceration. To keep an inmate in maximum security costs $35,800 a year, versus $22,600 for medium security and $18,400 for minimum. (In a community correctional centre – where inmates work at civilian jobs and return to custody each night – the cost is $11,500. The cost of parole is $1,600 a year.) The graduated pay scale also encourages inmates to behave well in order to qualify for an institution with a lower security rating – and a higher pay scale.

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“Guards Use Tear Gas: Reformatory Riot Follows Open House,” The Globe and Mail. September 25, 1962. Pages 01 & 12.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Guelph, Sept. 24 – The first open house in history at the Ontario Reformatory here last weekend affected about 30 inmates today – they rioted.

Superintendent Charles Sanderson said some disturbance usually follows any unusual program, such as the open house that attracted more than 10,000 persons to the institution.

The prisoners were subdued within 15 minutes after guards pumped large quantities of tear gas into the dining room. There was considerable damage, but no injuries were reported.

Mr. Sanderson said the prisoners did not attempt to leave the dining room, but smashed crockery and windows. They were removed to a prison yard after the outbreak and more than 350 inmates eating in an adjoining room were also removed for safety.

There had been a couple of incidents in the dormitories during the weekend that led him to expect trouble, the superintendent said, ‘but I didn’t expect anything as serious as this.’

About 30 inmates overturned and broke about 25 windows Saturday night and there were a couple of fights between prisoners, Mr. Sanderson said. One guard received a broken nose attempting to break up one fight.

‘Their fun involves vandalism,’ the superintendent added.

About 15 men involved in the dormitory disturbances were today transferred to the maximum security at Millbrook.

The men in the large dining room were brought back into the building just before 5 p.m. They had been confined in a prison yard since noon.

About 250 men who were in the small dining room remained in another room.

Mr. Sanderson said the 250 inmates of the reformatory will spend the night in the prison yard and will not be given any food until morning.

‘It is unfortunate that we have to leave all the men out because we are not yet sure who all the troublemakers are,’ he said.

The staff at the reformatory was doubled in strength tonight with about 80 men on duty. Guards are watching from rooftops and other locations with tear-gas guns ready.

Mr. Sanderson said that it was the prompt use of the tear gas that prevented the trouble from becoming more serious.

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“Inside Kingston Penitentiary – Ten Years After Canada’s Most Infamous Prison Riot,” Saturday Night. September 1981. Pages 32 & 33.


Part one. Part three.
—-
‘THE Cells Are Opened at 7 In the Morning,’ Says An Inmate Sentenced To life. ‘Breakfast is at 7.30. You go the kitchen by ranges, then back to your cell with your tray. You’re locked in with your food until 8 while the medication trolley comes around. From 8 to 11 you work. Back to your cell at 11, lunch and maybe a sleep until 1, then back to work until 3:30. Supper, until 6. After supper, you can be out on the range, playing cards or watching TV. Or you can go to the exercise yard in summer, the gym in winter. Lockup is 11 o’clock. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.’

Routine, repetition, numbing boredom. The inmate’s lot is grim; but less so than it once was. One of the major reforms of the past decade is a programme of family visits. At present these are restricted to maximum-security institutions (whose inmates are ineligible for the termporary absences available to medium- and minimum-security inmates), although they may soon be extended to medium-security prisons. The programme was introduced last year at Millhaven, where a white mobile home stands inside the security fences. There is a small fenced yard for children, with swings and a teeter-totter. The authorities provide food and other necessities. The purpose of the programme, an official explains, is ‘to keep the family together, to maintain some continuity so the inmate’s got something to go back to. It’s not to dangle a carrot for good behaviour. It’s not even to cut down on homosexuality in the institution – those are side effects.’ A similar programme was started in Attica in New York State three years ago. ‘It’s early to make any sweeping statements,’ says the official, ‘but the people there the recividism among the men who got visits is way, way down.’

At Kingston, there is no programme of conjugal visits. Inmate’s contact with family and friends consists of letters and supervised visits. The inmate above asked to be photographed so that his girlfriend could have his picture.

WITH Waxed Moustached, Medal Ribbons, and Military Bearing, Tom Rathwell, the supervising keeper (or head guard) at Kingston, appears as anachronistic as the penitentiary itself. In fact, he is respected – even liked – by virtually all the inmates. ‘I don’t know who they’ll get when he goes on retirement,’ says a bank robber. ‘I mean, he’s a man you can trust. I remember one time we had a sit-down strike in the gym. The guys wanted to kill the warden – they had iron bars and they were ugly. Then, after a day-and-a-half, the door opened – boom! – and in walked Tom Rathwell, right in among us. He went around to all the ringleaders and wagged a finger under their noses – ‘This is your doing, don’t think I don’t know that.’ He made them feel like kids. After that, we all caved in.’

A veteran of the Second World War, Rathwell, sixty-one, joined the penitentiary service in 1947. Except for a few months at Millhaven, he has spent his entire career at Kingston. ‘Things were much tougher before ‘71,’ he says. ‘Everything was very military. Men marched everywhere in lines, they weren’t allowed to dress sloppily, they had to be very polite with the guards. If they called you by your first name, you were supposed to charge them. It didn’t help. You can’t treat people like that. I try to be straight with them. If they ask about their parole, or what their chances are of a move, and I don’t think they have a hope, I tell them. If you say, ‘That’s up to the classification officers,’ it just makes them mad.’

A Kingston inmate handed a note to the photographer and asked that it be given to the writer. The note reads, ‘While speaking with Mr. Rathwell the other day he made a comment which I thought worth passing on to you. He seldom uses bad language, but this is what he said: ‘They told me when I started here thirty-four years ago to treat all prisoners alike. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now.’

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“‘Super Max’ – It’s a solitary life of misery for convicts in special unit,” Globe and Mail. September 12, 1980. Page 05.

By VICTOR MALAREK

One at a time a few extremely dangerous convicts trudge out of their cells to exercise by themselves for an hour.

They are being punished, and for about a month their life will be sheer misery in a prison within a prison because they have no physical contact with other prisoners or with their keepers.

But their woes will not end after those 30-odds days of strict solitary confinement. Then they start a long stretch of living under intense security, segregated from the rest of the prisoners.

Their world will revolve around a tiny cell constructed completely of steel, cramped recreation areas that are monitored by cameras and close contact with prisoners, who like themselves, are some of the most violent criminals in the country.

Their world is known as the special handling unit or ‘special max.’ There are only two in Canada – one at Millhaven penitentiary in Bath, Ont., and the other at the correctional development centre in Laval, Que.

According to Millhaven’s warden, John Ryan, the units are used to protect prison society from those convicts who are bent on using violence on both the guards and fellow prisoners.

Rehabilitative value is nonexistent
Until a few weeks ago, the total population at the two units was about 50. That figure got a sudden spurt of new blood as nine inmates, who took part in the hostage-taking incident at Laval penitentiary in Quebec, were transferred to the unit at the Laval centre.

Criminologists, psychologists and prisoners alike maintain that the units have no rehabilitative value.

Pierre Landreville, a professor of criminology at the University of Montreal, said the way the units are run ‘right now, they are inhuman. I think I would have to say their only function is to break the spirit.’

But he added that he thought the units are necessary because ‘some of these people are quite dangerous.’

Fred Sweet, chairman of the prisoners’ committee at Millhaven, said in a recent interview at the penitentiary that the units should be eliminated.

‘Some of the guys they (the administrations) put into SHU are potentially dangerous convicts, but once they’re put in, you remove the potential and then they are dangerous,’ Mr. Sweet said, pounding his clenched fist – the letters F, R, E, and D tattooed on his knuckles – on a bare wooden table.

Bryan Reynolds, a 29-year-old convict serving life for murder at Millhaven, described the unit as ‘a breeding ground for violent animals.’

‘Think of living in a room the size of a toilet (bathroom) day after day after day for months on end, only the cell is worse than a…doghouse. You’d get charged by the humane society for treating dogs the way convicts are treated in SHU,’ Mr. Reynolds said angrily. He has spent nine months in the unit.

Mr. Sweet maintained that if the prisoners were treated with ‘human dignity in the first place, SHU would not be necessary.’

Dragan Cernetic, former warden of the British Columbia penitentiary, who now works in operations at Correctional Service of Canada headquarters in Ottawa, hotly defended the units in a recent interview.

‘There are only two ways you can deal with violent inmates. You can impose stringent security on, the whole prison population or you can segregate three or four of the trouble-makers in a place where they can…rot as far as I’m concerned.’

Mr. Cernetic said the kind of convict he would recommend for incarceration in a special handling unit ‘is a man who I could not take home for dinner and feel safe with him.’

On a recent tour of the unit at Millhaven rarely given to outsiders, David Page, the officer in charge of the unit, tersely described the living conditions.

‘All the cells have been completely converted to steel. A steel desk, steel walls, steels sinks, and steel toilets. All the steel is painted. The beds are bolted to the walls.’

During the visit, the convicts were locked in their cells behind massive steel doors. Lunch was being passed to them through a hole in the middle of the door. Intense security was ever present through a maze of electronically controlled steel portals.

Every movement outside the cells is closely monitored either visually or by television cameras. Guards patrol the cell block about every 45 minutes when the men are locked in their cells and peep through a tiny glass opening in the doors to ensure nothing is amiss.

Red panic buttons, in case of trouble, prominently protrude from the walls in every cubicle in the ranges.

One hour a day to exercise alone
On the Phase I block, the tightest security area, a convict’s wiry hand jutted out of a hole in the door where meals are passed. Another prisoner yelled for a guard. ‘Can you come here for a mine. It’s important. I want to discuss my welfare.’

In Phase I, Mr. Page said, inmates get out of their cells one at a time for only an hour a day to exercise.

Conditions improve as the prisoners graduate to Phase 2 and 3, where periods outside the cells and contact with inmates is increased to a little more than six and eight hours a day respectively.

It’s in those latter phases, ‘other than the fact that their movement is contained, the prisoners are a lot better off in some cases than the other inmates. The other inmates don’t have television in their cells,’ Mr. Page said.

A couple of cells have been converted into recreation rooms and mini-gyms where inmates can either play guitars, listen to music or pound out their frustrations on a heavy punching bag.

Inmates can also go outside occassionally to a yard aptly referred to by the guards and prisoners as a ‘cloister.’ They get movies twice a week.

James Hayes, a psychologist at Millhaven, said that sicne the program was started at the penitentiary ‘we’ve had no returnees. The recidivism rate is nil.

Mr. Hayes said that ‘the inmates knows very clearly what he has to do to get his release back to the normal prison population.’

The operative word is co-operation. Inmates must not be mouthy to the guards and must show they can get along with their fellow inmates in the unit.

No limit is placed on the number of visits by family members to inmates in the unit, but the convict and visitor are separated by a cage, glass and screens.

‘The visits are inhuman,’ said Mr. Sweet. ‘The prisoner sits in a cage while he visits with his family. It’s degrading.’

Of his stay in the unit, Mr. Reynolds said the intense security ‘bothers you at first but you get used to it…We’re human beings. What they’re doing in SHU is illegal…(It) is morally illegal because it is cruel and unusual punishment.’

Frank Steel, a member of the three-man board at the Correctional Service of Canada in Ottawa that decides who goes into units, said inmates who take hostages during an escape attempt are almost automatically sent there.

Other infractions leading to an incarceration are murder or or assault on a prison guard or another convict.

‘SHU candidates are those who are determined to be dangerous…inmates perceived to be particularly violent while under sentence,’ Mr. Steel said.

Confinement in the units is relatively free of bureaucratic red tape. A warden holds an in-penitentiary review of the cases and makes a recommendation that goes to regional headquarters and then to the special handling unit in Ottawa.

The board is made up of the deputy comminisioner of security, the head of offender programs and the director-general of medical services.

‘Once we recommend SHU, the case is reviewed monthly at the institution and every six months at national headquarters. Every six months we go to the SHUs and interview those inmates who wish to be interviewed. Usually they all want to be interviewed,’ Mr. Steel said.

Cases reviewed every month
‘We talk about thee progress he’s been making and sometimes give him an indication of when he can expect to be released to the normal population. Our biggest complaint (from the inmates) is the perceived capriciousness of the system and the uncertainty of when an inmate can expect to be released.’

The average stay in the unit is between 18 months and two years, Mr. Steel said.

One convict, who was involved the hostage-taking incident at the B.C. Penitentiary in June, 1975, in which Mary Steinhauser, a classification officer, was killed by prison guards, was released last June from the Millhaven unit.

Paul Caouette, executive secretary of the Union of Solicitor-General Employees, vehemently defended the use of the units, ‘especially when it involves the safety of the guards.’

Mr. Caouette warned that if politicians ever fell to the demands of prisoners’ rights groups of convicts to ban the units, they would see a rapid dwindling in the number of guards.

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“Alcatraz of Canada Groups Troublemakers Behind High Walls,” The Globe and Mail. September 11, 1962. Page 04.

By EDWARD CLIFFORD
Globe and Mail Reporter

Millbrook, Sept. 10 – They call Millbrook Reformatory the Alcatraz of Canada.

Behind the 20-foot brick wall are 150 prisoners living a regimented life that they leave only when they finish their terms or change their behauviour.

There have been successful or even near-successful escapes from Millbrook in its five years as a maximum security institution. Here are housed the troublemakers of the Ontario corrections system.

A visitor to Millbrook might be impressed by its efficiency, its cleanliness, even its meals. It doesn’t give the impression of tough, steel and stone Big House where defiant men are broken.

‘It doesn’t seem so tough for an ordinary law-abiding citizen,’ said Millbrook’s superintendent, J. M. Marsland, ‘but the prisoners here are essentially manipulators who all their lives have tried to adapt situations to their own advantage. Here, they can’t. This is the most frustrating experience of their lives.’

To Millbrook are sent men from other Ontario reformatories, men who have repeatedly caused trouble, instigated disturbances, or have gotten fellow prisoners into trouble.

Here also are sent drug addicts and sex deviants who are kept in groups so they will not spread their habits to younger and more impressionable inmates in other reformatories.

No maximum security prison in Canada or the United States is more modern than Millbrook, its superintendent says. Prisoners are escorted everywhere by guards. Cell and block doors are electrically controlled by other guards sitting in bulletproof glass booths.

They work together, have recreation and exercise periods together, but eat in their own cells. Because they spend much of their time alone, Millbrook prisoners have time to think about their lives and their crimes.

When a man reaches Millbrook, he spends two weeks in a reception cell during which time he sees only reformatory staff, doctors and psychologists. From then on, he gets privileges as he earns them by good behavior.

He can forfeit his privileges by loafing, failing to obey prison rules or acting up. For repeated infractions, a prisoner can earn a period of solitary confinement.

This is why criminals call Millbrook the Alcatraz of Canada, and this is why Millbrook produces some model inmates.

‘Of course, we’re not as interested in producing model inmates as we are in producing model citizens,’ Mr. Marsland emphasized.

Consequently, prisoners are encouraged to work in one of the shops at the reformatory: the laundry, tailor shop, or license-plate plant. There it is possible to learn skills that could lead to a good job when the inmate finishes his sentence.

A prisoner can also get psychological help  and, in the case of a drug addict, help in curing him of his addiction.

By demonstrating that his attitude has changed, a prisoner can earn a transfer to an institution where discipline and security are more relaxed.

Not everyone in Millbrook is able to accept the reformatory’s way of life. One prisoner collected the hems off blankets, wove them into a rope, and wound it around his waist in preparation for the day he could weight one end, toss it over the wall, and climb to freedom.

‘He wouldn’t have made it anyway,’ said Mr. Marsland. ‘The rope was discovered in a routine frisking prisoners undergo regularly.’

The only organized disturbance since Millbrook was established came shortly after Mr. Marsland arrived as superintendent three years ago.

‘They were testing me,’ he said. A group of prisoners refused to enter their cells to eat. The superintendent, an ex-Royal Air Force fighter and bomber pilot, told the men the strictest disciplinary measures would be taken if they did not go to their cells. They went.

Actually, Millbrook inmates have little cause for complaint. They know ahead of time that it’s tough and are prepared for it. They can’t object to the discipline, and there is no reason to complain about the food, accommodation or clothing.

One prisoner, however, has a decided aversion to life in the institution where all the inmates wear blue denim. Currently confined to the prison hospital, and likely to remain there until his sentence is finished, he lounges quietly in bed counting the days. His sickness: Blue denim allergy.

Caption: Millbrook prisoners line up to leave license-plate plant while guards watch (left). They are searched, then go to cells.

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