Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Corrections Canada is Sentenced to Fail, Again and Again
"Correctional Service Canada has finally responded to the coroner’s inquest into the 2007 death of a troubled young woman who spent more than 1,000 days in solitary confinement before choking to death in an isolation cell as correctional officers watched, unwilling to help her. The agency quietly put the response online late Thursday – a full year after the inquest made its 104 recommendations – and then went back to ignoring the world outside its walls.

Feel free to read the report. If you do, though, do not hope to be uplifted. Once you get past the self-important acronyms (CRIMP, IMP, RSPMC) and the sly appeals for public sympathy in CSC’s response to the “absolute tragedy” of Ashley Smith’s death, you will be left with the sinking feeling that what happened to that 19-year-old girl will happen again, if it hasn’t already.

That’s because the response reinforces that fact that the agency that employs 18,000 people to look after 22,000 federal offenders, including more than 15,000 inmates, is allowed by the government to work outside the reach of public oversight. It answers only to itself. The federal prisons ombudsman, Howard Sapers, can make recommendations. So can the federal Auditor-General. So can a well-meaning inquest jury. But they are among the very few public advocates that prisoners have, and nothing they say is binding."

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