Rate of prison escapes increases 45% in 3-year span

RazorwireCorrections Canada doesn’t seem concerned by a 45-per-cent increase in the rate of escapes from penitentiaries over the past three years. The rate in the 2015-16 fiscal year was 1.23 escapes per 1,000 inmates, up from 0.85 three years earlier, according to a departmental plan for 2017-18 recently tabled in parliament (read it in full after the jump). The prison service says that “in spite of the increase in the rate of escapes during the last three years, the results are still meeting CSC’s target.”  It demonstrates that, if you set your expectations suitably low, any achievement is acceptable. This isn’t the only non-success at the $2.5 billion a year penitentiary service. In this three-year period, the rate of “non-natural and undetermined offender deaths in custody” rose by 60 per cent.

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The inside story of how dogged cops caught Canada’s worst rapist

Selva SubbiahThis post includes a podcastCanada’s worst rapist, a serial predator who may have assaulted more than 1,000 women, is free from prison and one of the investigators who caught him is certain he’ll strike again. But Selva Subbiah, 56, (inset) should not pose a threat in Canada. He’s being deported to his native Malaysia. Subbiah was caught more than 25 years ago because of the dogged work of police investigators who amassed a mountain of evidence that sent him to prison for nearly a quarter century. His penitentiary sentence in Canada expired January 29, 2017. Subbiah is an unrepentant manipulator and liar who insists that he presents “zero risk” to reoffend. Experts who have examined him conclude that he poses a high risk to commit more, violent sex crimes, despite treatment he’s undergone while behind bars. He was repeatedly denied parole because of the undiminished danger he poses. Subbiah was caught in 1991 by Brian Thomson and Peter Duggan, investigators in the Toronto police department. In the podcast (after the jump), Thomson recounts in detail how he and his partner ensnared Subbiah with an undercover operation and located a trove of evidence that was key to Subbiah’s conviction and lengthy sentence.
(UPDATE – Feb. 1, 2017: As expected, Subbiah was ordered deported after an immigration and refugee board hearing.)
(SECOND UPDATE – Feb. 7, 2017: As I tweeted yesterday, Subbiah was flown to Malaysia, under guard, on Feb. 6)

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Contamination of Kingston Pen land exceeds guidelines: Secret memos

Kingston PenitentiaryContaminants that cause cancer, neurological impairment and a host of other ailments have been found in soil around a closed federal prison in Kingston, Ontario at concentrations as high as 93 times federal guidelines, secret documents reveal. Copies of the documents, two briefing notes prepared by Corrections Canada for Public Safety Minster Steven Blaney, were obtained by Cancrime (read them in full after the jump). One briefing note, dated January 29, 2014, reported that “widespread soil contamination” was found around 179-year-old Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased to operate as a prison in September 2013. The note explains that lead, arsenic and hexavalent chromium – substances described in the note as “hazardous to human health” – were found “in exceedance of Federal and Provincial guidelines.” Corrections Canada, which will conduct an open house on the issue today (April 25) in Kingston, has revealed publicly only that areas around the prison show “preliminary evidence of possible soil contamination.” Information posted online at a website established by Corrections – the agency that manages the federal prison system – omits many details contained in the briefing notes, notably that the contaminants were found at levels far in excess of federal guidelines.

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Internal document pegs value of prison system at $5 billion

Collins Bay InstitutionWhat is Canada’s federal prison system worth? It’s a sprawling network of 75 properties that cover more than 6,000 hectares (that’s roughly the size of 10,000 Canadian football fields) across the country and includes 56 institutions. The figures come from an internal 2008 Corrections Canada document (after the jump) that was made public some time ago by the Information Transparency Project, a group based in Kingston, Ontario. The group says it obtained the document through Access to Information law. Though the doc is five years old, it contains a fascinating figure, the estimated replacement cost for the entire prison system. The price tag is a whopping $5 billion. That’s enough cash to build more than 450 typical elementary schools.

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Prison repairs behind schedule, plagued by problems

Collins Bay InstitutionFederal prison bosses in Ontario are struggling to complete urgent repairs to crumbling penitentiaries, while simultaneously juggling tens of millions of dollars worth of new construction projects, internal Corrections Canada documents obtained by Cancrime reveal (read them after the jump). The records, summaries of the status of major renovation and construction projects underway at prisons across Ontario, reveal that some projects are behind schedule, plagued by cost-overruns and faulty work. In one case, some repairs to the perimeter security wall that encircles Collins Bay Institution in Kingston “have failed and must be re-done.”

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Six prison guards plead guilty to beating inmates

I’ve been remiss in failing to update this story, first reported on Cancrime in October 2011, in which two convicts at maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary were beaten by staff. Late last year, six correctional officers pleaded guilty to the assaults. The staffers got conditional sentences and community service, for an incident that the prison service’s boss described, in an internal email, as a “significant incident” that threatened to bring the Correctional Service of Canada’s reputation into “disrepute.”

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Convict taunts attackers in profane slur in FB video

This post features videoCorrections Canada will ask police to investigate whether a hate crime was committed when a federal inmate appeared online in a video (see it after jump) making a racial slur while taunting other prisoners who assaulted him. Joshua Erdodi, an inmate at Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ontario, was nearly beaten to death in a riot at the medium-security prison on April 24. He was stabbed in the head and neck and he was beaten with weight-lifting equipment by a group of black inmates.

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Prison bosses secretly consider double-bunking

Collins Bay penConvicts at medium-security Collins Bay penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario, have refused to report to their prison jobs in a protest over double bunking, Cancrime learned. The practice forces two prisoners to live in a cell designed for one. Corrections Canada has dramatically increased its use of double bunking as it scrambles to accommodate a surging inmate population – the result of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime policies. But it appears that senior prison bosses are secretly (internal memo after jump) building a documentary trail designed to rationalize their use of double bunking, which is contrary to UN standards on the treatment of prisoners.

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