Canadians spent $2.5 billion last year to operate the country’s penitentiary system, so you’d expect they’d be entitled to timely information about how it’s functioning. They’re not getting it. A key report on the operation of Correctional Service of Canada was suppressed by the previous Conservative regime and was withheld from public release by the new Liberal government for five months. The annual report of correctional investigator Howard Sapers, an ombudsman who is mandated by law to investigate prisoner complaints, was released publicly yesterday (March 10), nine months after Sapers gave it to Conservative Public Safety Minster Steven Blaney.
Despite a series of critical reports in the past five years, Corrections Canada is still failing to meet legal obligations and to fix problems that might prevent the deaths of prisoners, a confidential Corrections document reveals. In more than half of the 20 inmate deaths during a recent three-month period there were “compliance issues,” according to the Deaths in Custody bulletin for July through September 2010. Cancrime obtained a copy of the internal, six-page document (read it after the jump), produced by the federal prison service’s Incident Investigations Branch.
Why should we provide decent mental health care for imprisoned federal convicts? For protection of course. Because most of these guys get out, and if they haven’t been treated – or even assessed – it’s unlikely they’ll go straight. It’s more likely they will commit new crimes and, in some cases, hurt more people.
A report critical of Canada’s federal prison system sat on the shelf of the federal minister responsible for prisons, hidden from public view, for seven months. The report was released just over a week ago.