CAB Report 2014 - Toronto South Detention Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report


Toronto South Detention Centre

Toronto, Ontario

March 31, 2015


Overview

The Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) Community Advisory Board (CAB) and the institution itself are fairly new. At present, the CAB is a work in progress in getting to the “know how’s” of the operation. What has been achieved so far would probably not have been possible without the tremendous efforts made by the Director and her team in supporting the CAB.

The collaboration between the CAB, the Director, TSDC management team and staff will improve the CAB’s understanding of the operation of the institution, demystify the operation of the CAB and improve CAB members’ understanding of the administration of the institution in the months to come.

TSDC CAB members

Chair: Dr. Wesley Crichlow, appointed March 17, 2014, term March 16, 2017

Board Members:

Alison Mentis, appointed April 21, 2014, term April 20, 2016

Douglas Tsoi, appointed March 17, 2014, term March 16, 2017

Levina Kahumba, appointed March 17, 2014, term March 16, 2017

Maureen Helt, appointed March 17, 2014, term March 16, 2017

Nigel Waterman, appointed March 17, 2014, term March 16, 2017

Meetings

The CAB met a total of seven times between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. A meeting intended for February 25, 2015 was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.

Presentations

The CAB received four presentations during regularly scheduled monthly meetings.

One CAB member was able to attend a direct supervision symposium, hosted by TSDC, on April 8 and 9, 2014. This was Ontario’s first direct supervision symposium and included speakers from across Canada and the United States.

Reports and concerns that required action

The Director presented monthly institutional count and incident reports verbally during the first few CAB meetings. Understanding the benefit of having the reports circulated in advance of the meetings, the CAB chair requested that this practice be adopted going forward. CAB member’s institutional visits along with CAB minutes are placed in a binder and kept at the TSDC office for easy access.

There were no reports or concerns that required immediate action.

Concerns directed to the Director

There were five major concerns presented by the CAB to the TSDC Director:

  • Issues getting the health care unit up and running.
  • The use of segregation beds for mental health patients.
  • Availability of statistics.
  • Use of force.
  • Staff shortages.

Concerns presented to the minister

There were no concerns presented to the minister, except through this report.

Observations

Early into their appointments, CAB members were escorted by senior administrators for their onsite visits, and tours were thorough. Correctional officers, nurses, the food department head all explained in detail their department’s role and personal responsibilities in the sphere of operations.

On unannounced site visits, correctional officers escorted CAB members. These officers were unaware of the role of the CAB and were surprised to learn of our existence. CAB members have said that they felt like intruders at the beginning of these tours. When apprised of the CAB role, officers were congratulatory and have insisted that the CAB should be well known to staff and throughout the institution.

Forensic Early Intervention Services

TSDC’s Forensic Early Intervention Services (FEIS) commenced its work on January 12, 2015. This is the first unit of its kind in Canada. This project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and provides early intervention forensic mental health services to inmates on remand, who amongst other things, may be at risk of being found unfit to stand trial.

Medical unit

TSDC’s medical unit opened 30 beds on February 27, 2015 and the Mental Health Assessment Unit is slated to open 14 beds the week of March 30, 2015.

TSDC management/staff and the CAB

It would be difficult for the CAB to operate effectively without the knowledge and support of managers, staff and the Director. The challenge faced by the facility administration is a lack of resources and/or staff to provide documents and/or statistics, which the CAB finds problematic and challenging. A key challenge for the Director in the coming months will be to continue to improve methods of detailed reporting to enable the CAB to understand more, the function and management of the detention centre to provide quality annual reporting.

At present, the CAB is working with the Director to improve both statistical reporting and providing it to the CAB.

Health care unit

There are issues in getting the health care unit up and running, which has provided challenges to staff and inmates. On several occasions, CAB members visited the various units. From discussions with inmates and correctional officers, mostly in the segregation unit, it is apparent that there is a need to get the mental health unit opened. The major issue has been hiring the appropriate number of qualified staff to fill the available positions.

Use of segregation beds for mental health patients

Many of the inmates have behavioural issues secondary to a medical/mental health problem and cannot be accommodated safely in a regular unit.

Special needs unit

The special needs unit is actually a segregation unit but is currently being used for special needs as the new special needs unit is under construction and expected to open in June 2015. One of the biggest issues with the current system is that many of these offenders should probably be in another environment rather than being confined to a small single cell. It does not help their mental health condition and puts a strain on the system. Most importantly, it is not appropriate for the individual. This is a huge problem since mental health hospitals have been closed in the province.

Information gathering

The Director has started to provide CAB members with statistics on the number of incidents reported on a monthly basis, including statistics relating to reportable incidents such as deaths, suicide attempts, self-harm, serious injury, the use of contraband, lockdowns and assaults (inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff). CAB members will be able to monitor these numbers on a monthly basis.

Use of force

There are a number of instances where the use of force has been required. Much of this, and other issues/challenges faced by staff at the institution can be related to staffing. This can create a domino effect – when the institution is short-staffed, the inmates cannot be provided with all of their privileges. In turn, inmates get angry which can lead to the use of force.

Staff shortages

CAB members discussed with the Director the concern about the institution being short-staffed on many occasions. Sometimes there are up to 25 per cent of staff calling in sick on a single day. This seems to be of concern to the management; they are, however, not sure what can be done. It is apparent that when the institution is short-staffed, inmates must remain on lockdown. This has resulted in inmates being denied access to regular privileges such as showers.

Local community events

TSDC staff participated in a number of local community events over the past year. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Direct Supervision Symposium hosted by TSDC; Ontario’s first direct supervision symposium. Speakers from across Canada and the US were present to share their experiences with the direct supervision model
  • Association of Black Law Enforcers Scholarship Ball
  • World Pride Parade
  • Summer Solstice Celebration hosted by TSDC
  • Group of MCSCS staff ran from Toronto to Ottawa in support of the annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa
  • Women in Corrections networking sessions
  • Fundraising dinner organized by TSDC in partnership with Dicle Islamic Society to provide Christmas holiday dinners for 30 families in Aboriginal communities through the White Buffalo Road Healing Lodge
  • An International African Inventors Museum Exhibit held at TSDC to celebrate Black History Month

Programming and relationships with the community

TSDC offers a wide variety of programs for inmates and is always looking for new volunteers to assist with a variety of tasks. The prevalence of inmates with children is remarkable. It is estimated by one CAB member that at least one third of inmates have children, hence the importance of exploring programming options that could allow for greater interaction between inmates, their children and the surrounding community. TSDC provides multiple programs to its inmates to help them deal with personal matters and prepare for release into the community.

Recruitment of staff

TSDC has struggled with recruiting staff over the past year. There is a shortage of staff within the institution and recruiting nurses has been a particular challenge. It is difficult recruiting individuals for healthcare positions in the field of corrections. In addition, the salary scale for nurses at MCSCS is lower than the scale for nurses employed by hospitals. There is nothing that can be done about this given that salary scales are determined through the collective bargaining process. TSDC brought in an HR Assistant to help with recruitment for a six-month period extending into the 2015-16 reporting year.

Media coverage

TSDC was mentioned in major Canadian newspapers on several occasions over the past year. There are concerns that some of the articles relating to the institution contain inaccurate facts. As a result, the public is not getting an accurate picture of the institution.

Intermittent Centre

Over the weekend there are approximately 360 offenders who report to the facility to complete their weekend (intermittent) sentences. It is completed in a very orderly manner, however, offenders can be standing – sometimes in the cold – in a confined environment with many others waiting for intake.

Smoking and use of drugs

During a site visit there was an odor of cigarette smoke in two units. Correctional officers explained it is an ongoing problem with cigarettes and drugs and there are limitations on what officers can do to search for drugs. The chair scanner, for example, cannot detect drugs hidden in the body. Correctional officers agree that more has to be done to stem the flow of drugs in the centre. Another problem is that inmates will smoke when correctional officers are around, and some will condone smoking.

Direct and indirect program impact

It was noted with the direct and indirect supervision method, there was an increase from last year of inmate and officer assaults, along with an increase in mental health issues.

Consolidated list of recommendations

Staffing

  1. The ministry needs to support TSDC and other detention centres across Ontario in their struggles to hire and retain health care and social work staff by creating attractive benefits/incentives.
  2. The ministry needs to work with TSDC to review staffing requirements in order to minimize and/or avoid lock-downs due to staff absenteeism.
  3. A larger number of employees are calling in sick on a regular basis and steps should be taken to determine how to address the situation.
  4. The ministry needs to evaluate the impact of the direct and indirect supervision models on staff. There has been an increase in incidents of inmate-on-staff assaults.

Inmates with special care needs

  1. The Ministry should work together with the courts to ensure that inmates with mental health and addiction challenges are sent for proper treatment elsewhere, rather than to detention centres such as TSDC.

• Now that the mental health assessment unit is open, there should be ongoing monitoring of segregation incidents and mental health referrals.

  1. Ensure that better treatment and programs are in place for persons with disabilities, HIV and mental health issues.
  2. There is the need for continuous monitoring to ensure that the current administrative, punitive and medical reasons for the use of segregation are bias free and that certain groups are not overrepresented in segregation.

Contraband and violence

  1. There is the need to develop individualized safety and performance security measures for contraband and violence in each tower/wing or unit.
  2. The Ministry needs to explore best practices in combating the increased presence of drugs at TSDC, for example:

• Introducing a zero-tolerance drug policy

• Prosecuting those found with drugs

• Introducing a routine urine drug-testing program

• Offering treatment to those with addiction challenges (refer to Recommendation 5 under Inmates with special needs)

Use of force

Monthly incident updates from TSDC’s management indicate an increase in the number of incidents involving use of force. There is a need for the ministry to ensure that:

  • Use of force occurs only when necessary
  • TSDC staff and management follow ministry policies on use of force
  • All use of force incidents are reported and documented as required without withholding any information
  • Regular discussions take place surrounding use of force
  • TSDC staff are trained on how to use the minimum amount of force necessary in each situation
  • Individuals should be better trained on the use of force that is unreasonable or unnecessary.

Others

There is a need to make the Offender Tracking Information System more readily available to CAB members for a better understanding of program participation.


Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Wesley Crichlow

Community Advisory Board Chair

Toronto South Detention Centre

Dear Mr. Crichlow:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2014 Annual Report for the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC).

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ constant focus is on transforming Ontario's correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety, provide effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and strengthen inmate mental health supports. Moving forward in these key areas is at the very core of building safer, stronger communities right across our province. We cannot do this without the commitment of individuals such as you and the other dedicated volunteers who make up our Community Advisory Boards. Your local perspective is invaluable to strengthening the links between our correctional facilities and our communities.  

I have reviewed your report and appreciate the thoughtful comments you have made about TSDC. You will be pleased to know that there is a zero tolerance policy for contraband in the institution. The ministry currently has policies and procedures in place to detect and eliminate the introduction of contraband into provincial institutions. In addition to these existing policies and procedures, the TSDC has begun a piloting project regarding the use of the SecurPass body scanner in the Admitting/Discharge unit to conduct inmate body scans for contraband upon admission.

Deputy Minister Stephen Rhodes will be responding in detail to each of the valuable recommendations you have made. Please accept my sincere thanks for this report, your work with the Superintendent, and your role in the community.

Sincerely,

Yasir Naqvi

Minister


Deputy Minister, Correctional Services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Wesley Crichlow

Community Advisory Board Chair

Toronto South Detention Centre

Dear Mr. Crichlow:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2014 Annual Report for the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC). The Annual Report has been reviewed by ministry staff and several recommended actions have been taken.

As the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in his letter to you, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ constant focus is on transforming Ontario's correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety, effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and strengthening of inmate mental health supports. Moving forward in these key areas is at the very core of building safer, stronger communities right across our province.

I am pleased to provide the following responses and recommended actions to the recommendations put forward in the TSDC Annual Report:

  1. Staffing/Hiring of Staff: It is essential that the staff are carefully selected, properly trained, supervised and supported. The ministry needs to work with TSDC to review staffing requirements in order to minimize and/or avoid lock-downs due to staff absenteeism. The ministry needs to evaluate the impact of the Direct and Indirect Supervision models on staff.

The safety and security and both staff and inmates is a top priority. Lockdowns do occur to ensure the safety and security of both staff and inmates. Lockdowns occur due to a variety of reasons, including staff shortages, which sometimes result from a combination of vacation leaves, sick leaves and other leaves taking place at the same time. Every effort is made to maintain the regular schedule of visits, programming and other services and when a lockdown is required, partial or individual unit lock downs are always preferred to a facility lockdown.

The ministry has been actively recruiting correctional officers since March 2013 once the moratorium on recruitment was lifted. As a result, a total of 480 recruits have graduated from Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program at the Ontario Correctional Services College (OCSC) and 104 have been assigned to TSDC.

Recruitment is ongoing and we continue to hire and train new staff through the OCSC.

Direct supervision has been implemented at TSDC and the South West Detention Centre in Windsor. The direct supervision model encourages positive interaction between staff and inmates by placing correctional officers inside a living unit, enabling inmates to move freely within the unit, eat meals and congregate in a common area. Direct supervision allows correctional officers to build direct relationships with inmates and serve as positive role models while being present to prevent and address negative and threatening inmate behaviour before it escalates. The ministry’s Program Effectiveness and Statistical and Applied Research (PESAR) unit will be conducting a review of the available statistics to assess the impact of the direct supervision model.

  1. Inmates with Special Care Needs and Use of Segregation: The ministry should work with the courts to ensure that inmates with mental health and addiction challenges are sent for proper treatment elsewhere, rather than to detention centres such as TSDC. There should be ongoing monitoring of segregation incidents and mental health referrals. Ensure that better treatment and programs are in place for persons with disabilities, HIV and mental health issues. There is the need for continuous monitoring to ensure that the current administrative, punitive and medical reasons for the use of segregation are bias free, and that certain groups are not overrepresented in segregation.

All ministry institutions have health care staff and medical services available to provide care to inmates within the facility. Partnerships are also maintained for medical services not provided by the institution, and specialized treatment, in the local community.

Since January 2015, TSDC, in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), introduced a new mental health screening and assessment process for all inmates upon admission. The new screening will ensure that inmates with mental health concerns are identified as early as possible and referred to the appropriate professional(s) and services. The assessment tool used as part of the screening process was initiated at all other institutions in late September 2015. Social workers, mental health nurses, and psychologists received training on the new process on June 24 and 25, 2015. 

In terms of the Mental Health Assessment Unit at the TSDC, as of March 31, 2015, 14 of the 26 beds in the Mental Health Assessment Unit were open. Inmates are placed in the Mental Health Assessment Unit (MHAU) based on their needs and ongoing assessment. We are continuing to move forward opening additional beds as additional staff are hired and trained.

The ministry has initiated a review of the use of segregation in provincial institutions and our segregation policies. The review will include consultation with staff and various stakeholders. It will also examine the best practices of other jurisdictions. The final report will be submitted with findings/recommendations for the ministry’s action in December 2015.

  1. Contraband and Violence: There is the need to develop individualized safety and performance security measures for contraband and violence in each tower/wing or unit. The ministry needs to explore best practices in combating the increased presence of drugs at TSDC.

The ministry has a number of mechanisms and policies and procedures in place to detect and eliminate the introduction of contraband into provincial institutions. They include:

  • Random searches;
  • The Body Orifice Security Scanner (B.O.S.S.) chair;
  • Canine units;
  • CCTV cameras;
  • Dedicated security teams;
  • Field Intelligence Officers;
  • Walk through metal detectors;
  • Hand held security wands; and
  • X-ray machines.

The ministry has a zero tolerance drug policy. A dedicated ministry Canine Unit was established and activated in March 2013. The Canine Unit is a valuable and additional search resource for provincial correctional institutions and assists with the detection, deterrence and prevention of contraband (e.g., drugs, firearms and ammunition). Security measures and requirements are reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis to reduce and eradicate contraband.

Additionally, on August 31, 2015, TSDC began piloting the use of the SecurPass body scanner in the Admitting/Discharge unit to conduct inmate body scans for contraband upon admission.

Ministry core programming is offered in all provincial institutions. Core Programs are rehabilitative programs that target those criminogenic factors most common among offenders (anger management, substance abuse and criminal thinking) and for two offender groups who pose a threat to public safety (sex offenders and domestic violence offenders).

Ministry volunteer programs include one-on-one counseling and group substance abuse support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Institution staff resources such as social workers and rehabilitation officers are available to provide assistance, treatment, and counselling to inmates for a wide range of issues including substance abuse and anger management. The institution health care unit is also available to provide treatment, such as the methadone program or other medical and counselling services to assist inmates with substance abuse issues.

  1. Use of Force: Monthly incident updates from TDSC’s management indicate an increase in the number of incidents involving use of force.

I understand that your board has received additional information from the TSDC Director which helps to explain the increased incidence of reported use of force.

As you know, following an Ombudsman report on the matter in 2013, the ministry made significant reforms to strengthen oversight, investigations and accountability including:

  • Restructuring the existing investigations unit to ensure greater transparency and accountability in use of force investigations. The unit is strengthening compliance and accountability and streamlining investigations. Priority investigations, such as investigations of a criminal nature, will be conducted by the police service of jurisdiction, and will be overseen by seconded police officers from the Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations unit. Other investigations and compliance work is being conducted by ministry staff.
  • Updating the ministry’s use of force investigations policies and oversight to clarify operation expectations and ensure accountability. A Code of Conduct and Professionalism that sets behavioural standards both on and off duty for all correctional staff regardless of rank and has been distributed to employees.
  • Establishing risk management teams in all correctional facilities to review investigations to ensure strict compliance with ministry policies.
  • Appointing a use-of-force auditor to conduct random reviews of use-of-force incidents to ensure policies are being properly followed.
  1. CAB Access to the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS): There is the need to make the OTIS system more readily available to CAB members for a better understanding of programme participation.

OTIS is the system containing inmate personal information and files. Access to OTIS is restricted to ministry employees to ensure the integrity of the system. The Director is providing information on program participation to CAB monthly.

I appreciate the CAB indicating in its Annual Report the many TSDC success stories, including the Direct Supervision Symposium hosted by the TSDC on April 8 and 9, 2014. Speakers from across Canada and the US were present to share their experiences with the direct supervision model.

It is also great to see the participation and support provided by TSDC staff members at many community events such as the Association of Black Law Enforcers Scholarship Ball; the World Pride Parade; the MCSCS staff run from Toronto to Ottawa in support of the annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa; Women in Corrections networking sessions; Movember; a fundraising drive organized by TSDC in partnership with Dicle Islamic Society to provide Christmas holiday dinners for 30 families in Aboriginal communities through the White Buffalo Road Healing Lodge; and Black History Month featuring an International African Inventors Museum Exhibit at TSDC.

Thank you for the work that you do and the role you play as volunteer members of the Community Advisory Board. Please be assured that the ministry values your input and recommendations. Your commitment and dedication is admirable and your positive working relationship with management and staff at the TSDC is commendable. I am looking forward to your ongoing support as we further this very important work.

Sincerely,

Stephen Rhodes

Deputy Minister of Correctional Services