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February 9, 2001
Real zero tolerance
Ministry claims of protecting staff merely
There has been a lot of noise lately about the Ministry wanting to ensure
their staff are safe. That’s wonderful news, except that recent events appear
to indicate otherwise.
A brutal attack on Elgin-Middlesex D.C. correctional officer Robert Comeau
resulted in a one-day sentence for the inmate involved. Barry Scanlon, chair of
the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC), calls this
sentence a travesty of justice.
"I really feel for Mr. Comeau," Scanlon said. "I was attacked
by an inmate some time ago at the Guelph Correctional Centre. As a result of the
assault I received facial injuries requiring reconstructive surgery and had to
take five weeks off work. The inmate received six months concurrent to his 18
month sentence for the attack - spending not one extra day in jail."
Scanlon says that at the Waterloo Detention Centre they have had some success
in prosecutions over the last year or so.
"An inmate bit me on Jan. 3, 2001 and received a 90-day consecutive
sentence on Jan. 12, 2001, doubling his 90-day sentence on other charges,"
said Scanlon. "Other recent convictions/sentences from criminal offences
against Waterloo staff include a six month consecutive sentence for one assault,
a one year sentence for another inmate who assaulted a female correctional
officer and another 90-day sentence to another inmate for threatening death. We
have had great response and support from Waterloo Regional Police when assaults
or threats are directed against our staff. In addition, the Crown Attorney’s
office in Kitchener takes these matters very seriously and it shows in the
The MERC’s position has and continues to be that all inmates who assault,
threaten or commit other criminal acts against staff should be criminally
charged and prosecuted.
Here’s what the MERC recommends if you are victimized at work or in
relation to work:
- Have management call the police in to investigate as soon as possible. If
you are hospitalized or sent home, try to make sure someone else follows up.
- Fill out a WSIB form.
- Ask that you receive a Critical Incident Stress debriefing within 24 hours
of the incident.
- If management does not co-operate, seek help from a local union
- Obtain the card of the investigating police officer and follow up
regularly on court dates and the progress of the case. Use the
institutional or office address as your address for service or contact. Do
not give your home address.
- Follow up with the local Crown Attorney’s office informing them you want
input on the case through a victim impact statement prior to any sentencing.
Tell the Crown how the act has impacted on you and that you don’t want
your case slipping through the cracks. Leave your name and number for
- Call the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at 1-800-372-7463 and
initiate a claim.
- Local representatives - please notify your MERC team if members are having
problems with lack of cooperation from management, police or the crown
attorney. Please fax the details to the Corrections MERC at (519) 837-9187.
Private jail investigated after sixth prisoner
An investigation has been launched at a privately run prison after the death
of a sixth inmate since it opened three years ago.
Paul Spear, 18, was found hanged in his cell at Parc Prison, Bridgend, South
Wales on Feb. 2. He was serving 14 months for common assault, actual bodily harm
and handling stolen goods.
The death, which has left staff at the prison "extremely
distressed," will be the subject of an investigation headed by a governor
from another prison. Securicor Custodial Services of Surrey, England operates
Parc Prison communications manager Alison Williams said: "We can confirm
that Adrian Paul Spear, aged 18, was found hanging in his cell at 18:25 p.m. on
Friday, Feb. 2. Staff immediately attempted to resuscitate Mr. Spear and
paramedics were quickly on the scene. He was transferred to hospital where sadly
he was pronounced dead at 19:35 p.m."
The jail came under fire within weeks of opening in November 1997 after a
remand prisoner was found hanged in his cell. The jail, alongside two others, is
also the subject of a Commission for Racial Equality report.
Escort policy hearings scheduled
The OPSEU Corrections Occupational Health and Safety Committee is scheduled
to return to mediation/arbitration in reference to the outstanding disputes
about the escort policy implementation. Issues include training, clothing and
the number of officers that still need to be trained. The illegal use of police
agencies and managers for community escorts is also being addressed. Hearings
are scheduled to begin on March 26, 2001.
We will keep you posted.
No change in Ministers
The long-awaited Mike Harris cabinet shuffle did not produce any new names to
head up the Ministry of Correctional Services.
Instead, interim Corrections Minister Norm Sterling continues to hold the
Corrections post, along with Consumer and Business Services. Rumour has it that
this is still a temporary fling for our new friend Norm.
Although the government IS trying to turn corrections into a business, and we
do have a lot of "consumers," we doubt that this will be a permanent
addition to Minister Sterling’s portfolio.
Hmm. Could this spell the return of Lock Talk’s greatest
story resource, Rob Sampson? We’ll be watching.
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Carol Whitehead
(ext. 356) at
1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888. e-mail: email@example.com
.Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.
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