photo above: Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS
WN: My short response to the current Commissioner: She does not know (or admit knowing) and does not care to know (more); so there will be no external review–and no systemic change–unless imposed and done independently of police and prison personnel.
Then who will implement such change, needing political will to be sustained over many elected administrations? . . . From work we do with men causing abuse in intimate partner relationships, all attest to how difficult it is to change even small behaviours . . . Sigh.
Justice Bastarache writes:
“It’s time to discuss the need to make fundamental changes to the RCMP and federal policing. I am of the opinion that the culture change is highly unlikely to come from within the RCMP. The latter has had many years to proceed, has been the subject of numerous reports and recommendations, and yet unacceptable behavior continues to occur. ”
And we taxpayers are on the hook for $137.5 million of claims paid out! Claims arising from rampant criminogenic culture within the RCMP. And far worse: devastated victims’ lives strewn across a decades-long law-and-order landscape.
In the last major Canadian inquiry into the penitentiaries, called the “Commission of Inquiry into certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston” (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1996), Judge Louise Arbour stated of Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) that
the lack of observance of individual rights is not an isolated factor applicable only to the Prison for Women, but is probably very much part of CSC’s corporate culture (pp. 62 & 63).
We read further:
In my view, if anything emerges from this inquiry, it is the realization that the Rule of Law will not find its place in corrections by “swift and certain disciplinary action” against staff and inmates [in response to the strip-searching of women prisoners by male guards]. The absence of the Rule of Law is most noticeable at the management level, both within the prison and at the Regional and National levels. The Rule of Law has to be imported and integrated, at those levels, from the other partners in the criminal justice enterprise, as there is no evidence that it will emerge spontaneously (pp. 174, 175 & 180).
Judge Arbour was stating baldly that Correctional Service of Canada, despite a plethora of rules, is rampantly criminal itself in its mistreatment of prisoners.1
“The Rule of Law is absent, although rules are everywhere.”, she writes (p. 181). Like the ocean with water water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink . . .
And to what “other partners in the criminal justice enterprise” is she alluding, if not to the police?–with a similar horror show within its ranks as seen in the excerpts below.
Just before the quote, one reads:
In its Mission Statement, the Correctional Service of Canada commits itself to “openness”, “integrity”, and “accountability”. An organization which was truly committed to these values would, it seems to me, be concerned about compliance with the law, and vigilant to correct any departures from the law; it would be responsive to outside criticism, and prepared to engage in honest self-criticism; it would be prepared to give a fair and honest account of its actions; and it would acknowledge error. In this case [under inquiry], the Correctional Service did little of this. Too often, the approach was to deny error, defend against criticism, and to react without a proper investigation of the truth.
I believe that it is also part of that corporate culture to close ranks, and that the defensive stance of senior managers was often motivated by a sense of loyalty to their subordinates. This otherwise admirable instinct should, however, always defer to the imperatives of scrupulous commitment to the truth which must be displayed by those entrusted with people’s liberty.
For a much fuller discussion, please see my “War, Police and Prisons: Cross-examining State-Sanctioned Violence“.
Finally, there is this poem of hope:
Prisons and cops survive only in tales for the young
like twin Atlantises or two drowned boogeymen.
A cop’s as harmless a Halloween getup as any
monster, while a prisoner costume’s as taboo as a slave one
now that schools teach what makes them kin.
A prison is the far-off past of a structure
turned free housing, each cell wall knocked to sandcastle
ruin, halls reshaped and re-dyed in green paints,
former floor plans carved out like shores
into spacious homes, laundry and A/C a given in each.
Though prisons and cops won’t be found anywhere,
our youths still learn of them, and they know what they mean,
how they look, how they function, what it will take to stop them
if they return with new names.
For decades, women and LGBTQ community members working for the RCMP have faced a toxic culture, shocking and brutal violence, and sexual assaults and harassment, said a newly released independent report.
And despite facing a class action lawsuit that led to the compensation of more than 2,000 women, the culture at the RCMP continues to promote, or at the very least tolerate, “misogynistic, racist and homophobic attitudes” at all levels and in all provinces, former Supreme Court justice Michael Bastarache wrote in the report Broken Dreams, Broken Lives published Thursday [November 19, 2020].
His team assessed more than 3,000 claims, including 130 that involved penetrative sexual assaults, and conducted 644 interviews that revealed the extent of the problems within Canada’s largest police force up to 2017. The government has paid out $137.5 million.
Please click on: RCMP and Misogynistic, Homophobic And Racist CultureFootnotes
- The above quote in fact continues:
The role of legal norms in penal institutions was recently described by Lucie Lemonde as follows:
Imperative rules are omnipresent in the penal legal order. In addition to institutional rules, there are innumerable directives, regional instructions, standing orders, memoranda and manuals applicable to inmates, etc. These rules control in minute detail all aspects of daily life. According to [noted postmodernist Michel] Foucault, they amount to a complete microsystem of penal rules regulating time (lateness, absenteeism), action (carelessness, laziness), behaviour (impoliteness, disobedience), expression (insolence, disrespect), sexuality (indecency).
“There is no aspect of institutional life that is not covered by a rule”, writes Berkman. “Rules systems within institutions are always expanding. Even when a particular rule is changed or abandoned, other rules grow up to regulate the area of activity.” He illustrates this statement with the following example: when mandatory prison uniforms were abandoned in some American institutions, a plethora of rules were enacted to regulate the type, style and colour of the street clothes allowed.
Notwithstanding the proliferation of rules, analysts of penal systems are almost unanimous in concluding that they are lawless States. Thus, Greenberg and Stender, in their 1972 article “The Prison as a Lawless Agency”, assert that “the prison, supposedly designed to enforce the law, became a complete negation of every principle of legality”. In 1974, Professor Michael Jackson, after scrutinizing the disciplinary process in some penitentiaries, concluded that the Canadian Correctional Service was “a lawless State”.viii (Translation) (p. 180).
See also Michael Jackson’s massive Justice Behind the Walls.[↩]