Union seeks justice for wrongly accused correctional officers in Ashley Smith case



    MONTREAL, Jan. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Today is the anniversary of the firing
of three correctional officers and the suspension of four others at Grand
Valley Institution for Women in the death of inmate Ashley Smith.
    The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) is marking
the date with an information picket this morning in front of the institution
in Kitchener, Ontario, and by releasing the chapter from its report, "Rush to
judgment," on Ashley Smith's year in federal custody that describes the events
immediately preceding her death October 19, 2007.
    The chapter, which can be found online at www.ucco-sacc.csn.qc.ca (click
on "Ontario"), was held back at the request of lawyers during the preliminary
inquest of the three Grand Valley correctional officers charged by Waterloo
Regional Police with criminal negligence causing death.Those officers were
completely cleared of suspicion in the case when Ontario Court Justice David
Carr dismissed the charges December 8.
    "As our report demonstrates, these correctional officers should have been
commended for a doing a very difficult job in extremely trying circumstances,"
said UCCO-SACC-CSN Ontario Regional President Jason Godin. "Instead,
Correctional Service Canada chose to hide its own failures of leadership by
scapegoating its frontline staff. As a result, our members have lost careers,
reputations and suffered terrible emotional stress."
    Adjudication cases to hear the union's appeal of the terminations and
suspensions will begin March 3. UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Pierre
Mallette says his union will use every means to ensure that these seven
members are justly compensated.
    "CSC needs to step up and do the right thing. It needs to correct the
injustice done to their employees and ensure that staff are never again
wrongly blamed for tragedies that occur all too often in our institutions,"
said Mr. Mallette.




For further information:

For further information: Lyle Stewart, CSN Communications Service, (514)
796-2066


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