Whitehorse Daily Star

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POLICIES EVOLVING – Changes to the management of inmates held in segregation at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre are undeway, the Yukon government says.

Jail’s segregation policies changing, government says

The Department of Justice is implementing changes to segregation at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, a spokesperson told the Star Tuesday.

By Gabrielle Plonka on November 5, 2019

The Department of Justice is implementing changes to segregation at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, a spokesperson told the Star Tuesday.

The shift in policy follows a complaint from an inmate who said he was left in a feces-covered cell by corrections officials in 2018. The man’s account was reported last Friday by the Yukon News.

Fiona Azizaj told the Star that the inmate’s complaint reached resolution and changes are being implemented.

Azizaj was not able to provide a timeline for the implementation of the new initiatives, nor clarify whether any of them are already in place.

She provided the following statement to the Star:

“The Department of Justice has taken steps to change the approach to segregation at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, which includes:

• Putting in place additional oversight and accountability, both inside and outside the institution;

• Ensuring that all segregation placements are reviewed by senior officials;

• Creating an interdisciplinary care team that includes health care professionals, which is in place to review all segregation placements;

• Developing individual care plans for all segregation placements.

Each plan includes the rationale for placement and the work that is underway to reintegrate the individual back into general population.

These care plans are developed and reviewed weekly by an interdisciplinary care team and are intended to reflect the needs of the individual; and;

• Ensuring there is active involvement and monitoring of all cases where an individual is in segregation. Where necessary, direction is provided to ensure the safety and security of all inmates and staff.”

NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised the issue of segregation during Monday’s question period in the legislature.

She expressed concerns that the inmate’s experience is evidence of a large and long-unresolved issue.

“The treatment that this inmate received and the actions of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre management speak to a serious problem,” Hanson said.

“(Officials) knew that (the inmate) was behaving erratically and they knew he had been prescribed a number of medications to treat mental health issues, yet rather than reacting with compassion, they chose to punish him further,” she told the house.

Hanson questioned whether the responsible corrections officials were held accountable and the new initiatives put in place.

The use of segregation has been discussed previously in this sitting, as changes to the Corrections Act promising stricter rules entered their second reading last month.

Hanson accused the changes of lacking in substance.

“The amendments … provide for continued use of segregation, albeit clocked under a range of new names,” Hanson said.

“What real differences will the amended corrections act provide at Whitehorse Correctional Centre?”

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee was not present in the house Monday to answer Hanson’s questions. Community Services Minister John Streicker spoke in McPhee’s place.

He lauded the importance of increasing independent oversight and the delivery of mental health services in the $70-million-plus jail.

“We are mindful that restrictive confinement and segregation should be used as a measure of last resort,” Streicker said.

“And may, at times, be necessary to maintain the safety of inmates and staff in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.”

Comments (4)

Up 8 Down 0

Lindsay on Nov 9, 2019 at 11:05 am

Confused here.
The inmate smeared his cell in feces which is OK, because he has mental health issues. Telling him to clean up his own feces is cruel and degrading? He felt the officers should LITERALLY clean up his crap.

Lack of accountability is a primary reason for criminality. No wonder he wound up there.

Stop using mental health as an excuse. Depression, anxiety, etc., etc., are very common place and don't excuse behaviour or consequences. Unless the inmate is full blown psychotic....in which case he wouldn't be deciding the guards should clean up, the little green men could do it.

We don't need a jail, apparently we need a psych ward with orderlies who don't mind mopping feces. Best get on it Liz.

Up 10 Down 0

William Colin Costanza on Nov 7, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Yo JC - They are staying at a hotel. Do you recall the article a while back featuring the ADM for Justice who said for the papers that people are sent to his hotel “WCC” and he does not know why, he did not have any answers.

Does this not suggest a huge problem? Why would you put someone in a position like the ADM who publicly spews such nonsense?
Perhaps the problem is that ADM just does not know how to run a hotel?

Up 14 Down 1

A. Schmidt-Cho on Nov 6, 2019 at 10:56 pm

@ JC - Hahaha - I think everyone in the Yukon has been a Correctional Officer at WCC. It’s almost a certainty that the turnover rate there is greater for staff than it is for the inmates.

No one talks about it though. No one says WTF? And the Correctional wheel just keeps churning and churning with the occasional burning. One should look at this issue because it has cost Yukoners millions and millions of dollars - lawsuits, training, training, training, human rights claims, training, hiring, hiring, hiring... And so on...

WCC is a disaster and it has been for a longtime.

Up 15 Down 5

jc on Nov 5, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Why not just book these guys in the best hotel in town. I'm sure the leftys would appreciate that. And well we're discussing the inmate crisis, why not have a commission investigate inmate abuse of Correctional Officers. There may need to be changes there. By the way, I was a Correctional Officer with some experience in these things.

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