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Archive for the ‘Prison’ Category

Prisoner restrictions halted at Matsqui
Lawyers plan to take complaints to court

Mary Frances Hill, Vancouver Sun [British Columbia]
Published: Saturday, June 06, 2009

Corrections Canada called off severe restrictions on prisoners in Matsqui Institution on Friday after lawyers for the prisoners went public with complaints about deteriorating conditions.

Prisoners had been locked in their cells for 23 hours a day for nine weeks following a protest against an increase in work hours.

However, authorities did not reverse the transfers of 14 convicts who had come forward with prisoner complaints.

“This is a partial victory,” said lawyer Donna Turko, who represented the group along with prison rights lawyer John Conroy.

Turko said the convicts will again have access to toilets, sinks, phone facilities and common areas in their “ranges,” or wings of the prison.

She said the lawyers still intend to go to B.C. Supreme Court on Monday to deal with issues that have arisen from the conflict, such as the transferred prisoners and other rights issues.

Conroy said the 14 had acted as representatives for 220 Matsqui prisoners. Two of the transferred prisoners, Jean Paul Aube and Stephane Turcotte, had claimed in court documents that prisoners were getting limited access to food and facilities since staging the protest.

Some were defecating in their cells and throwing the waste out the windows, and the lawyers said the stench of human waste permeated the upper floors of the prison as record-high temperatures hit the Fraser Valley this week.

Turko said Corrections Canada had bowed to media pressure.

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“Conroy said the prisoners have solidarity. When they held a strike vote, about 95 per cent supported the action. He said there is no threat of a riot.”

– Abbotsford New, June 6, 2009

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Matsqui prisoners transferred days before they were to air complaints in court

By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun [British Columbia]
June 4, 2009

Fourteen Matsqui prisoners — including two who filed a petition against the prison over inhuman living conditions — have been transferred to other institutions, just days before they were to get their day in court.

Prison rights lawyer John Conroy said the 14 prisoners had acted as representatives for 220 Matsqui inmates, who have been locked in their cells for 23 hours a day since May 11.

Those transferred include Jean Paul Aube and Stephane Turcotte, who claimed in court documents that inmates have been given limited access to food and bathroom facilities since staging a work stoppage nine weeks ago to protest an increase in work hours.

Conroy and lawyer Donna Turko plan said they intend to take the prison warden to B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

“The people who were talking to everybody and keeping them cool … [the prison] is shipping out,” Conroy said.

He said the prison argues that the prisoner representatives had been stopping inmates from going to work but that in fact, 97 per cent of the inmates supported the work stoppage, which has been peaceful with no signs of violence.

Aube is now at Mountain Institution and Turcotte at Mission Prison, Conroy said, while three others have been transferred to maximum security at Kent. He didn’t say where the other nine were sent.

Conroy and Turko spent Thursday collecting affidavits from 50 inmates affected by the work stoppage.

In court documents, Turcotte and Aube said that for the first six weeks of the stoppage, the inmates were allowed to eat regular meals in the dining hall. But since May 11, they have been kept in their cells for 23 hours and are having to wait hours to use bathroom on each floor, which they say is inhumane, they say. Some are defecating in their cells and throwing the waste out the window.

“It’s not a healthy situation for them; they don’t even have any toilet paper or anything to clean themselves with,” Conroy said.

Turcotte and Aube also claim prisoners aren’t getting enough food, have limited access to call family or lawyers, and that the situation has affected prison transfers and unescorted temporary absences to visit dying relatives.

Alain Charette, spokesman for the Correctional Service of Canada’s Pacific region, insisted the inmates were not in a lockdown situation but noted “there are some restrictions.”

The issue arose after CSC decided to implement a more structured work day, in which prisoners were required to be involved in work and scheduled activities — including counselling and schooling — for 12 hours a day instead of eight.

Matsqui is the first prison in the Pacific region to implement the new policy, which is aimed at preparing inmates for reintegration into society, Charette said.

He wouldn’t say if the prisoner transfers were related to the work stoppage.

“I’d rather stay away [from that issue],” he said. “If [the lawyers] see a link, that becomes an issue for the judge to decide. It’s too close for me to say it’s not linked or not going to be linked.”

Charette refused to comment further, saying the matter is headed to court.

“We’re still working on coming back to a normal situation in a new structured 12-hour day,” he said.

But Conroy said if the prison wants to implement community standards, it should be improving basic living conditions, such as providing toilets and sinks in cells.

The prisoners say previous jobs held by inmates have been cancelled and now everyone must fill out applications for new jobs, which has the potential to cause serious conflict among inmates.

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Springhill prison on lockdown
Guards leave building after bomb threat, return after deadline

Last Updated: Friday, May 29, 2009
CBC News [Nova Scotia]

Guards at a locked down federal prison in Springhill, N.S., are back on the job following a bomb scare.

Earlier this week, Correctional Service Canada was warned there could be an unauthorized device in the building. The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which represents the guards, says it was a bomb threat.

The guards left the building after the lockdown was implemented, saying it was not safe for them to be the ones looking for any such device.

A note said the device was supposed to go off Thursday.

The regional president of the union, Paul Harrigan, said the guards returned Friday when the deadline passed without incident — though they’re still refusing to search for any suspicious devices.

Harrigan said the RCMP, military or Canada Border Services Agency is trained to find these kinds of devices, “as opposed to our organization which is trained to deal with people.”

In the meantime, the medium-security facility remains on lockdown.

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Prison uprising halted

Posted By ROB TRIPP, SUN MEDIA
Peterborough Examiner [Ontario] ‎
May 22, 2009‎

Prison guards used gas and shotguns to contain an uprising at maximumsecurity Millhaven penitentiary.

The incident began Wednesday night and lasted roughly 16 1/2 hours, until noon yesterday, when the convicts agreed to return to their cells.

Corrections Canada says 48 prisoners remained in an outside recreation yard during the standoff. The inmates have made some complaints to prison managers.

“That’s still being investigated,” said Stephanie Fullerton, a Corrections spokeswoman at the regional headquarters.

“I know that there were some general issues about the institutional routine.”

The inmates refused orders at 7:30 p. m. Wednesday to leave the yard. They tried to break into an adjoining yard but were stopped by prison guards who fired shotguns and gas.

“We were lucky we were able to respond,” said union official Jason Godin, who was at the prison during the uprising.

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Collins Bay penitentiary protest is over

The Kingston Whig-Standard [Ontario]‎
May 12, 2009‎

Convicts at medium-security Collins Bay penitentiary have abandoned a protest in which they refused to report to work or programs.

“It was a one-day protest just as a way to raise their issues with the management team,”said Holly Knowles, a spokeswoman for the Correctional Service at its regional headquarters in Kingston.

Yesterday, the prison’s 327 inmates refused to go to their prison jobs and activities because of concern about routines and social development issues.

Knowles said inmates were concerned they were being denied free time out of their cells because clocks in different parts of the institution weren’t in sync.

They also complained that the baseball diamond needed repair and they wanted the option of repairing or replacing appliances they use in their living units.

Knowles said prison managers are working with a committee that represents prisoners to address their concerns.

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Work refusal leads to Matsqui lockdown

Christina Toth, The Abbotsford Times [British Columbia]
Published: Friday, May 22, 2009

Matsqui Institution inmates have been confined to their living units since May 19, in an effort by prison officials to douse potential unrest over new structured work schedules, and in response to threats of assault against some inmates.

Since March 30, inmates at the Abbotsford prison have refused to attend work or programs because they oppose the more stringent hours and restrictions to upper and lower exercise yards, said Gordon Tanner, an assistant warden at the facility.

Threats made by some inmates against other inmates who were willing to return prompted the lockdown.

Tanner said a prisoners’ committee was struck recently and its representatives have been in talks with prison administrators to resolve the situation.

As of April 1, Tanner said Correctional Service Canada began implementing a series of changes nationally that address five themes, including eliminating the presence of drugs in institutions and making inmates more accountable.

Inmates are encouraged to attend their work, classes and other programs during structured morning and afternoon hours, as they would have to do if they weren’t in prison.

“The structured work day is getting closer to the work day they would have in the community. We’re trying to get them accustomed to that,” in preparation for their release, Tanner said.

Until recently, inmates had access to large yards on the prison grounds, but these areas were also where outsiders would regularly toss drugs and cell phones over the fence.

In order to gain control over this entry method of contraband, the prison is changing the landscaping around the fence perimeters and boosting surveillance. Inmates can exercise in the gym or have monitored one-hour sessions in the large yards, said Tanner.

But prisoners want freer access to fresh air. Through negotiations, officials have agreed to give them access to a smaller ‘day yard,’ after staff erect an internal fence.

“I’m hoping that will be done in the next couple of weeks,” Tanner said last week. Talks between inmates and managers continue. No injuries to prison staff or inmates as a result of the work refusal have been reported. Regular scheduled visits and family visits to the facility continue as usual.

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N.S. jail riot began during search for missing keys: justice minister

The Canadian Press
April 9, 2009

HALIFAX, N.S. — Nova Scotia’s justice minister says a riot at the province’s largest jail occurred during a search for a set of missing keys.

Cecil Clarke said Thursday the search began on Tuesday during a lockdown and continued Wednesday when the disturbance erupted.

A section of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre was extensively damaged after 59 inmates, who refused to return to their cells, started fires and ransacked a common living unit.

A union official said he was led to believe that guards had to used gas to eventually quell the disturbance, but Clarke said that wasn’t the case and only pepper spray was used.

Clarke said the keys, which would have been used for a classroom or utility room, were still missing.

Meanwhile, 16 prisoners remained under lockdown, with three of those placed in the jail’s segregation unit.

Clarke said it will take a number of days to clean up the damage caused by the riot.

Inmates broke windows and started two fires, one in a garbage can and a more serious blaze in a book shelve in the jail’s common area where inmates can watch television and congregate.

Jim Gosse, president of Local 480 of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said he wasn’t sure how the fires could have been set because activities such as smoking by inmates and staff are prohibited inside all provincial jails.

He said while the smuggling of contraband material into jails could happen at any time, it may well be easier at the facility, which he says is understaffed in its admission and discharge area.

“With the volume of offenders moving through the admission and discharge area of the facility we simply don’t have enough staff to ensure a proper safe environment,” said Gosse.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it was working to fill a number of positions at the jail.

Two correctional officers and a supervisor have been added to the admissions and discharge area, and some part-time workers are being elevated to full time.

Opened in 2001 in an industrial park, the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility is designed to house 224 male and 48 female offenders in single cells.

But prisoners are often placed two to a cell because of overcrowding, prompting complaints from both inmates and guards about conditions there.

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Police confirm end of Niagara Detention Centre riot

Sat Mar. 28 2009
ctvtoronto.ca [Ontario]

A riot involving 17 inmates has ended at Niagara Detention Centre late Saturday afternoon.

Police offered few details on the riot, but they did confirm that the inmates were wearing masks and did have control of a portion of the facility.

There is no word on what sparked the riot, nor if any injuries occurred.

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Inmates face off against jail guards

Posted By DON FRASER , ST. CATHARINES STANDARD
Monday, March 30, 2009

A standoff between guards and 17 inmates at the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold lasted almost five hours Saturday.

Niagara Regional Police say the situation started at 11:20 a. m. in the ground-floor day room range area.

Corrections staff kept the disturbance confined to the area.

The NRP responded as a precautionary measure and acted as support outside the facility. Ontario Provincial Police were also present.

A corrections negotiator was brought in to deal with the situation. The inmates demanded some concessions during negotiations, but police did not reveal any details.

Some inmates also began to make weapons from items available in the area. At 4:10 p. m., corrections staff entered the area and secured the inmates involved without incident.

Police say no corrections staff or inmates were injured during this disturbance. About $2,000 in damages was caused to the facility by inmates.

Police and the detention centre say the public was never at risk. No one from the Niagara Detention Centre was available for comment late Sunday.

According to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services website, the facility has a capacity of 260 inmates.

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