Wave of violence at Regional Psychiatric Centre - Federal government policies endanger frontline workers

EDMONTON, June 25, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) in the Prairies region is increasingly concerned over a wave of violence at Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

A third hostage-taking incident in less than a year took place on May 18. In a scenario that foretells the future of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), the mental health system has once again failed to adequately address the growing level of violence among Canada's federal inmates.

Despite CSC's recent announcement that it had developed an "award-winning" Mental Health Strategy, documents accompanying this press release provide an insight into the alarming rate of violence faced by correctional officers at RPC. The numbers demonstrate a sharp rise in the numbers and frequency of violent incidents over the period 2005 to 2011.

The situation may be about to become much worse, warns UCCO-SACC-CSN Prairie Regional President Kevin Grabowsky.

Mentally ill inmates from soon-to-be closed institutions in Ontario and Quebec will soon flood other CSC facilities. The Conservative government announced April 19 it would close three key institutions in Ontario and Quebec, namely, Kingston Penitentiary, the Regional Treatment Centre and Leclerc Institution in Laval, Quebec.

"With the closure of those three institutions, the Correctional Service of Canada will see an increase in these types of violent events. This is the beginning. The Prairies region will not be immune to these population pressures and the Conservative government is pushing CSC into moving too fast, in too many directions to get a firm hold on these incidents," commented Kevin Grabowsky.

"Our members are at risk because of these changes. The Canadian public is at risk because of these changes. The Conservative government has failed to properly consult with our members, the front line professionals in our penitentiaries, about how to safely handle these types of changes."

Appendix 1: These are categories and numbers of the reportable incidents at RPC Saskatoon for the year 2011. The following table reveals a sharp increase over the period 2005 - 2011.

  Hostage Taking Inmate Fight Assault on Inmate Assault on Staff Suicide (includes Attempts) Self Inflicted Injuries Poss. Contraband Recieve/Transport Contraband
2011 1 38 42 45 11 323 14 1

Under the Influence Fire Damage to Govt Property Disciplinary Problems Govt Security Policy Breach Intelligence Other Incidents Poss Unauthorized Item
3 2 5 82 6 2 44 38

Escape - Attempt Death - Natural Causes Cell Extraction Overdose Interrupted Accident Exceptional Search Forcible Confinement Medical Emergency Threats toward Staff Total
1 2 6 1 5 1 1 6 17 697

  Jan - Mar Apr - June July - Sept Oct - Dec Total
2005 28 36 42 45 151
2006 23 48 47 36 154
2007 57 70 42 44 213
2008 30 45 55 62 192
2009 59 98 154 263 574
2010 189 122 80 101 492
2011 173 215 172 73 697

Appendix 2: Some examples during 18 months of incidents at Regional Psychiatric Centre, Saskatoon, SK

2011-01-05 Inmate cell extraction: possession of homemade weapons, threatens officers, and self-harming behaviour. ERT deployment

2011-02-11: Officers are assaulted during an inmate fight and cell extraction by ERT.

2011-02-19: Inmate assaults three officers while out on the range.

2011-02-24 Inmate self-harming behavior, smearing feces. Cell extraction and medical injection.

2011-03-10 Inmate destruction of government property, threatens officers, floods area, threatens self-harm, use of homemade weapons. ERT deployment.

2011-03-24 Inmate slashes his own throat with a razor blade.

2011-03-29:  Inmate fighting during cell extraction by ERT.

2011-04-02 Inmate assaults officers during an escort by kicking and spitting. Later, when in his cell, bangs his head against wall and is placed on Pinel soft restraint board.

2011-04-07: Inmate assaults officer with handcuffs.

2011-04-11 Inmate becomes aggressive towards officers when they came to take him to the transfer bus.

2011-04-12: Inmate punches officer in the abdomen.

2011-04-13 Inmate is physically resistant and assaultive towards officers as they take him out of his cell for his shower and exercise.

2011-05-03 Inmate is head banging and threatening officers. Inmate is placed on Pinel board and spits at officers. Spit shield placed over his head.

2011-05-11 Inmate shoves food through hatch and threatens to stab officer when he gets out of his cell.

2011-05-11 Inmate:  ERT cell extraction and medical injection.

2011-06-06 Inmate refuses to lock up. After several warnings, the subject becomes physically threatening towards officer and OC is deployed.

2011-06-13 Inmate: Refusing to lock up and threatening staff.

2011-06-13 Inmate:  Refusing to lock up and threatening staff.

2011-06-28 Inmate:  Refusing to lock up and threatening staff.

2011-07-11 Inmate spits in correctional officer's face and eyes as the officer attempts to apply handcuffs to bring the inmate in from the yard.

2011-07-13 Inmate: ERT is deployed for a medical injection.  Subject becomes assaultive towards team members and physical handling is used to maintain control.

2011-07-14 Inmate slashes his forearm. Dr called in to apply stitches.

2011-07-30 Inmate smears feces on his cell door and walls and threatens security. Inmate then begins headbanging.

2011-08-08: Inmate punches officer on the arm.

2011-08-15 Inmate threatens to self harm, is escorted to another cell and during strip search assaults officer.

2011-08-25 While being given his medication through the food hatch, inmate throws a cup of boiling water through the food hatch and strikes officer in the legs.

2011-10-01 Two inmates involved in a physical fight.

2011-10-28 Inmate attempts to escape by climbing over courtyard fence and then scaling inner perimeter fence. Subject intercepted by mobile patrol and security before he could reach the top of the fence.

2010-09-30 Inmate refuses to lock up on Clearwater, and throws hot coffee on three officers.

2010-10-07 Inmate assaults two officers while trying to assault another inmate

2011-02-22 Inmate is aggressive in the hallway after leaving activities and assaults correctional officer. After restraints are applied he spits on the officer.

2011-03-29 Inmate is head banging then assaults three correctional officers when they respond.

2011-06-19 Attempted hostage-taking and assault on staff. Inmate holds homemade weapon to nurse's neck. Correctional officers immediately intervene, use OC spray and physical force to subdue inmate. Inmate continues to try and stab anyone in reach.

2011-09-28 Assault on two correctional officers while escorting an inmate. The inmate bites one officer on the forearm, and punches another officer in the chest.

2011-10-02 Assault of officer while escorting a segregation inmate to exercise when the inmate kicks the officer in the legs.

2011-07-26 A correctional officer is attacked by an inmate and, during the course of the incident, is exposed to the inmate's blood. The inmate is Hepatitis C positive.

2011-07-26 Multiple staff assault: four officers assaulted and off on WCB after trying to control inmate.

2012-01-04 Inmate scratches officer.

2012-01-15 Inmate throws a food tray and hits officer.

2012-02-28 Inmate knocks officer to the floor during a routine range walk.

2012-01-21 Inmate stabs another inmate. Officers intervene.

2012-01-24 Inmate assaults another inmate on range. Officer intervenes.

2012-02-09 Inmates: involved in physical fight on range. Officer intervenes.

2012-03-20 While being escorted back to the unit, inmate became physically uncooperative and assaults correctional officer.

2012-03-21 Inmate takes another inmate hostage and reportedly had a zip gun in his possession. ERT is deployed.

2012-04-20 Inmate assaults another inmate on range. Officers intervene.

2012-05-02 Information is received about an inmate planning to take a staff member hostage with numerous weapons. Upon searching the inmate the correctional officers discover a homemade zip gun on his person. A sharpened weapon is also found hidden in his cell.

2012-05-04:  Inmate throws toilet water on officer.

2012-05-20: Inmate throws unknown liquid on a correctional officer.

2012-05-25 Inmate takes another inmate hostage using a sharpened weapon; demands to be transferred to Special Handling Unit.

SOURCE Union of Canadian Correctional Officers(UCCO)

For further information:

Kevin Grabowsky, Prairie Regional President, UCCO-SACC-CSN, 780 964-6502.

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