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Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



    Good morning, colleagues.


     Welcome. This is meeting number 10 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. Again today we're continuing our study of drugs and alcohol in prisons.
    For our guests, we are studying a number of components of that. It's not just drugs in prison. It's a study of how drugs and alcohol enter our prisons and the impacts they have on the rehabilitation of offenders, the safety of correctional officers, and basically on crime in general within our institutions.
    This morning we have two witnesses who have travelled from the Yukon to testify before us. Our committee appreciates very much the time and effort our witnesses have already spent to be with us here today. Your committee is proud to have an in-person testimony by witnesses from one of the more remote parts of our great country.
    Tony Van De Mortel is a correctional officer at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
    Ken Putnam is a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police following 33 years of service. He then worked as an investigator for the Yukon Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods units, which focused on illegal drug dealing, prostitution, and bootlegging operations. He continued to work with SCAN, which expanded its role to conduct inspections and standards of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
    Again, your committee is grateful for your long service there and on this issue.
     I would invite each of you to make your opening statements before we turn to questions from members of our committee.
    Perhaps we will begin with correctional officer Van De Mortel, if you wouldn't mind.
     Mr. Chair, my name is Tony Van De Mortel. I am a corrections officer at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre in the Yukon. I have been a correctional officer for three and a half years. The Whitehorse Correctional Centre—from this point I'll call it WCC—is the only territorial correctional facility in the Yukon, and it is a multiple level facility. WCC holds both male and female inmates and, as noted, will hold federal sentence prisoners for brief periods and for a variety of reasons. The facility also acts as a remand centre for people awaiting trial.
    Mr. Chair, I understand the committee is studying the topic of drugs and alcohol within the federal correctional system. I'm here to share a personal experience that I hope will provide a unique viewpoint that may help you in your understanding of this topic.
    On October 10, 2009, just 45 minutes into my shift, I responded to a disturbance in the central cell block unit of the facility. Inmates in cell six were engaged in a fight with fellow officers working the shift with me. When order was re-established, two of our officers had been choked from behind and I stood with a broken nose, the bone protruding through my face, and a broken leg.
    The event was a result of the inmates consuming a brew they had crafted and hidden over a two-week period. That night I was taken to the hospital, undergoing surgery to reconstruct my nose, and ended up in a full leg cast. I was in a nose cast for four weeks and the leg cast for seven and a half weeks. It would be six months before I returned to modified work duties. I have never been able to return to duty in my full capacity, and I have endured countless hours of painful and tiring physiotherapy. I can only be on my feet for about 40 minutes and can't sit for long periods of time either. I take Advil or Tylenol 3 a couple of times a week to deal with the ongoing pain that never truly subsides. The specialists tell me this is as good as it will ever feel and nothing more can be done to improve my leg. The cartilage will always be uneven over the fracture and the bone is indented at the joint.
    Mr. Chair, those are the physical scars, but there's more to this story. It was and continues to be very difficult for my family. I have a special needs son who wouldn't come near me while I had the cast on my face. My wife had to drive me everywhere and do everything around the house, including shovelling the snow. As you can imagine, Mr. Chair, that can pile high in the Yukon. I can't share in some of our favourite times together, like long hikes and other outdoor activities that keep me on my feet. Returning to work has my family often afraid for my safety and is a continued source of stress for them. I get frustrated because I am always tired, sore, and in pain.
    Mr. Chair, there is another side. My co-workers and my clients, the inmates at WCC, were impacted by this. These kinds of events impact both staff and inmates' sense of security and trust. Front-line staff are the most significant influence of pro-social behaviour and motivators of positive behavioural change within the institution. This is because correctional officers spend the greatest amount of time with the inmates on a day-to-day and 24-hour basis. In our facility, staff work under a direct supervision model, which has the staff working directly in the living units, working with inmates, attending programs with inmates, and assisting them with all sorts of daily routine and learning activities. Direct supervision living unit officers maintain progress logs and help manage inmate case files directly related to their institutional plan.
    As you can imagine, Mr. Chair, events where staff are assaulted negatively impact a fragile and critical relationship between staff and inmates. This is to the detriment of both. I can assure you, Mr. Chair, that the vast majority of inmates understand both the physical and the trickle-down impacts and dangers of brews within the correctional facility.
     I recommend to this committee that efforts to support the help, hope, and healing of inmates, the safety of staff, and the recognition and understanding of the critical relationship between staff and inmates take into account the absolute need to keep prisons free of brews.
    Furthermore, I can't underscore enough that while programs to deal with substance abuse and addictions are critical, front-line staff are the most significant and influential people in the life of inmates and stand to be the best source of positive behavioural change and demonstration of pro-social behaviour, and they must be provided with the tools, training, equipment, and support to keep illicit drugs and alcohol out of this environment in order to interact with limited barriers or fear for safety.
    In effect, Mr. Chair, the officers are the program.
    I thank you for your time and am willing to answer any questions you may have at this time.


    Thank you very much, Mr. Van De Mortel.
    Mr. Putnam please.
     Thank you, and good morning, Mr. Chair and committee members. I thank you for the opportunity to meet you here today.
    I understand the committee is studying the impact of drugs and alcohol in federal prisons. And while I have never worked in a federal prison, I think my personal and professional experience may lend a very different perspective that I hope will add a fullness to your research that you may not have anticipated.
    Mr. Chair, drugs don't enter the institutions of our nation without having first existed on our streets. Drugs are coming in, not out. Starting with that premise, then, you will start to understand where both my working life and my personal life may prove to give you insight for the important task at hand.
    Mr. Chair, as you mentioned earlier, I am a retired member of the RCMP. I served 33 years in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. I retired at Whitehorse Detachment in 2005 as a watch commander.
    My entire service consisted of front-line policing. Throughout my career, I have been involved in drug investigations and have witnessed first hand the impact on individuals, families, and communities. Mr. Chair, from that we must remember that a correctional centre is a community.
    After my retirement, I worked for the Yukon government in a new program called Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods. The new act focused on closing down drug houses and bootlegging operations. Our unit closed down the most notorious crack cocaine den in Whitehorse, which had been in operation for over 20 years.
    With the introduction of Yukon's new Corrections Act, I was tasked as an investigator to review critical incidents at Whitehorse Correctional Centre. These included serious assaults on staff, such as Mr. Van De Mortel just spoke of, stabbings, and other serious occurrences, including those involving drugs.
    To say that my experience with drugs getting into a community and out of it into a correctional centre is limited to my experience as an investigator would be an accurate assumption. However, there is more to my story.
    At 7:14 a.m. on January 14 this year, my wife, Lana, called me at work. There was absolute fear in her voice. Lana begged me to come home immediately. Lana said, “Ken, our lives are over.” I rushed home and found my wife frantic on the front porch. She said, “He's downstairs. Hurry.” I ran downstairs and found our 22-year-old son Christopher dead, hanging from a Bowflex machine.
    As a policeman for 33 years who had seen it all, nothing in my experience prepared me for this. My son had struggled with alcohol and drug abuse for six years. Christopher had been in and out of jail seven or eight times and had attended five rehab centres.
    There are a few points I need to make from this experience, an experience no parent should have to live through.
    Lana and I never rested in our efforts to support and seek help for Christopher. We spent at least $100,000 seeking out treatment programs, from Montreal to Vancouver to Alberta, and yet the safest we ever felt was when Christopher, sadly, was in jail. I say this for a number of reasons. The staff in the Yukon understood that they worked inside a community, with people, not inmates, who were part of a greater community outside the facility. As Christopher's parents, we knew being in jail was the best opportunity for Christopher to avoid temptation and easy access to drugs. In short, we knew he would be sober, clean, and safe there, and that was a good thing.
    This, of course, is not to say that there are no drugs, pressures, debts to be paid, violence, intimidation, and bullying within an institution, but they are reduced. They were and are reduced because of the continued and conscious effort of staff to keep drugs out and to keep violence in check.


     This must continue to improve in order to provide the greatest hope for treatment and recovery for inmates who are wanting to, and ready to, change. I believe, Mr. Chair, this is something most inmates want as well.
    On that note—what the inmates want—I've dealt with hundreds, thousands, of people who have been addicted. They've been in and out of jail, and of course they look at me as maybe the guy who put them there. I always had a fairly congenial relationship, if you could call it that, with people I dealt with on the street. Over the last 20 years, I've had people come up to me after they hadn't seen me for five or six years. They're a little bit uneasy. They'll say, “How you doing?” I say, “I'm doing great. How are you doing?” The very first thing that comes out of their mouth is that they quit drinking five years ago. They want me to know that. They want me to realize that they're not a complete lost cause. I've had quite a few people say that to me, so when I say most inmates want this, I believe that to be true.
    To carry on, there are those who are addicted and those who feed the addictions through clear and conscious criminal choice. Those who struggle with addictions clearly need front-line staff support and effective treatment programs, and of course the absolute will to make the change and to take on a tremendous challenge.
    The existence of drugs weakens those difficult efforts. It weakens them through the direct pressure on the inmate population, but it also detracts from the correctional officers' ability and time to focus on what they do best—providing positive leadership, guidance, and role modelling. It pits inmates against officers, and those who provide the drugs alienate, bully, and assault the inmates who welcome positive staff support. I know this from Christopher's direct experience. I could never share this story before because the “inmate code” transcends prison walls and creeps dangerously and continuously throughout our community, which would have made life for Christopher harder on the inside and the outside.
    I often wonder if I should have spoken up sooner and louder. I applaud Corrections Canada's goal to have a drug-free system. However realistic one may believe that goal to be, the standards must be set high because the consequences of half-hearted measures can be deadly.
    This may be a sad commentary, but the longer Christopher was in jail, the longer he was sober and the more focused his life became. This, I am certain, is a testament to the influence of the quality care and dedicated staff who work in an environment under circumstances most Canadians are unaware of. Behind those walls and under the right conditions, I firmly believe there is an opportunity for help, hope, and healing.
    What lies ahead? I wish I had all the answers, but I don't. Lana and I wish we had Christopher here to tell you this story himself…but we don't.
    Mr. Chair, I respectfully submit the following recommendations on Christopher’s behalf.
    The first is that the government support Corrections Canada in its goal to rid the correctional facilities of drugs. It is what the inmates want.
    The second recommendation is that the government support transitional services for inmates upon their release, with continuation of treatment services and other avenues of support to enhance their chances for success.
    Third is that the government consider regulations and controls over treatment facilities to maintain integrity, consistency, and control over groups profiting from addictions services. It is not just the addicts who are desperate for change; families are vulnerable to fraud as they try in vain to help support their loved ones.
     About five years ago, we sent our son to a treatment facility just outside of Montreal. It was a 90-day program. My wife Lana did all the work on the telephone, talking with the people at the centre. About 30 days into it, Christopher called us and said the place had been busted. I asked him what he was talking about. He said they had done a drug raid. I didn't believe it. He told me to Google it, and that it was in the news, so I did. The place itself had not actually been raided, but the owners, the director, and the people of this treatment facility were well connected to a gang out of Montreal--I believe it was called the West End Gang--who were charged and arrested, and 22.2 tonnes of hash that they had transported from Africa were seized from this gang in Montreal. It was a joint effort between the Quebec police and the RCMP.


    I tell that story because when people are dealing with treatment facilities, they're phoning, they're desperate, they're crying, and they want help for their child or their spouse. A lot of times, the people they're talking to on the phone are the salesmen or saleswomen. They are the people who are selling you the goods. People have to be very, very careful in how they go about choosing appropriate treatment facilities. We had some good ones; we had some not so good ones.
    The fourth recommendation is that the government continue seeking out the best treatment programs for the inmate population, and they include front-line correctional staff in the day-to-day support of inmates, because it is the front-line staff who have the greatest influence on the clients they interact with 24/7.
    The fifth recommendation is that, as with treatment, the government support integration between law enforcement agencies in order to freely share information and support. Currently, information systems and independent investigations limit effective approaches to the cross-jurisdictional activities involving drugs.
    Thank you. Merci.


    Thank you, Mr. Putnam, for sharing your story and for trying to make a difference. Certainly the experience you've been through is one that we hope, as parents, none of us would ever have to face, but it's one that shows the despair of those who have been caught in such activities. Thank you for yours.
    Thank you also, Mr. Van De Mortel, for reliving your experience, horrific as it was. We appreciate both of you coming to do that.
    We'll move into the first round of questioning. We'll go to Mr. Leef.
    Mr. Leef, please, for seven minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Van De Mortel and Mr. Putnam, for coming to the committee today and sharing your stories. They were very powerful.
    The first question I'd direct to Mr. Putnam. You touched on this a little bit. When we're talking about addictions and those in a correctional environment, we have heard some testimony about the need to create treatment programs or focus on programs inside the correctional centres. I'm just wondering, from your perspective, when it comes down to inmates making that choice to go into a treatment program, with drugs still existing in a correctional environment, if the choice is truly one that can be made free and clear of influence. If an inmate wants to get into this program and recover, from your experience, are they just able to do that absolutely at will, or are there existing pressures? I think you said in your introductory remarks that there are those who are addicted and there are those who make a clear and conscious criminal choice to feed that addiction. How does that impact on somebody making a choice to involve themselves in a program?
     There are pressures inside any correctional facility. First, an inmate, or anyone for that matter, who wants to get into a program has to want that themselves. In a confined area like an institution, the pressures are there, and if drugs are available, there are obviously people within the system who are controlling those drugs.
    A lot of the inmates I've dealt with, and I could speak of my son again, are afraid of these people. When we said earlier that a correctional centre is a community, it certainly is, and there's a hierarchy. The big guys, or the people who are in there long term or for more serious crimes, are the ones who are more than likely organizing the drugs being brought into the facilities.
    My son came to me one time. He was not in jail, but he was going back to court on a Wednesday, and he was afraid that he was going to go back for a couple of months for breach of probation or some minor offence. He didn't come to me. He went to his mother. He told her he was going to sneak drugs back into the jail, and she tried to talk him out of it. He simply said there was an expectation for him to do this. He had to do it. If he didn't do it, he'd get into trouble when he got there. This is what he had been told when he was released several months earlier, that the next time he was back, he had to step up to the plate and bring some drugs back, any way he could get them in. Fortunately, he lucked out in court and didn't go back.
    There certainly are pressures, and in my opinion, the presence of drugs in a jail is certainly going to have an impact on rehabilitation and successful drug programs within the centres.
    Thank you for that.
    To try to put a fine point on it, if I had an addiction inside a correctional centre and I told fellow inmates that I was going to take this program--I was done with drugs, I wouldn't be buying any more, and I wouldn't be trading any more with the drug dealer--how does that go over?


    That probably wouldn't go over too well. It would take a very strong character to stand up to a person who was a drug dealer within a correctional centre. These people in there are probably at some of the weakest points of their lives. I'm not saying it could never happen, but it would be very difficult.
    Thank you.
    The next question is for Mr. Van De Mortel. I've got a couple of minutes left.
     After your incident--and the pictures are pretty awful--did you get any feedback from the other inmates in the institution with respect to their concerns about brews inside a correctional environment and how your injuries and the assault on you impacted them?
    Yes, I did go back working the floor for about seven months after my injury. That was before knee surgery. I had a lot of troubles in those seven months. A lot of the feedback from inmates was good. They did not like what happened. They said they wanted us to lock them in a room with the guys who did this and they would take care of things for us officers.
    We do have a good relationship with these inmates because we are with them for a good part of their lives and a period of time every day. They open up and talk to us. That could be where Whitehorse is a little different. We are a small community. Our correctional centre might be a little different from the federal system, as far as inmates talking to officers and such.
    The feedback was all good. They weren't happy about what happened. They wanted us to lock them in a room with the people who did it and let them take care of business for us officers. That's what they wanted.
     Did that night affect the inmates' sense of safety and security, the inmates that weren't involved in this kind of incident?
    Yes, I think it did. There are other inmates in that cell block, and there was one who was not drinking locked in the cell with them. He was scared. He was in the corner trying to stay out of everything when it was all going on. Word spreads fast in a correctional centre. They were all scared. They don't want to be part of this. They want nothing to do with it, a lot of them--most of them. There are a few who pretty much wreck it for everybody.
    Thank you, Mr. Leef.
    We'll now move to the opposition, to Mr. Garrison.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to both witnesses for bringing their personal stories here to the committee.
    I know that's not always easy, and I want to particularly thank Mr. Van De Mortel for telling us about the dangers that front-line officers face. It's an important reminder for all of us that this is a risk every day. I also want to thank Mr. Putnam for sharing his family's pain when we failed as a society to deal with the addiction process.
    Both of you, I think, mentioned “help”, “hope”, and “healing”, those three words together. I know we've had some emphasis on the interdiction part, but I'm wondering whether each of you could comment on what you think the long-term solution to the problem of drugs in prison is. Is it a more balanced approach, which indicates help, hope, and healing, or can we simply do it at the front end through interdictional law?
    As a front-line staff member, I can say we spend a lot of time with the inmates. It needs to be drug free. It has to go right out of the system in order for them to make the proper choices, move forward with healing, and create a safe environment. There are a lot of pressures in the correctional facility on people trying to get drugs, do drugs, force other people to do drugs, and collect drug debts. It's the whole nine yards. To have drugs and alcohol right out of the system would help us in our job of helping them. That's about all I can say.


    So you're saying it's an essential first step?
    I agree. I've worked at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and I've met the staff. At one point, I knew probably half the staff. For the four years I worked with SCAN, we used to get the sheet every day of what inmates were in. Consistently, I personally dealt with 33% of the people who were inside.
    I really believe that cleaning up the institution starts with the people on the floor. They are the ones having the day-to-day contact. It's going to be more so in Whitehorse, come February or March when they open the correctional centre. It's going to be direct supervision, as opposed to somebody coming by and looking through a window.
    There's a rapport struck between the inmates and the correctional officers. I know my son knew quite a few of the correctional officers personally. He liked them. Of course, there were others he didn't like so much. We're talking about correctional officers. They are the people.
    I spoke about the standards having to be high. Correctional officers are little known and less appreciated by the vast majority of Canadians. They're certainly not as high-profile as the military or the police forces. We have to raise that profile for them. The standards have to be high.
    Once the drugs are gone, there is hope. Help is there. Healing progresses.
     Thank you.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, you say in your presentation that as front-line officers you need tools, training, equipment, and support. Can you say a little bit more about what specifically you think, in terms of additional tools and training, is required for the front-line officers?
    We need a lot more training on addictions, more of the social aspect of dealing with these, to be more educated on everything that surrounds the addiction and how it would help us to help them.
    So you would see that in some kind of in-service training?
    Something along those lines, yes.
    And you're not receiving that now?
    There are courses, but there can always be a lot more.
    Mr. Putnam, you talked about raising the standard. Can you tell me a little more about what you mean by that? You've used that phrase a couple of times.
    Are you referring to the standards within the correctional facility?
    You've talked about raising the standard. You said it a couple of times, so I'm just asking.
    Training is certainly one thing.
    Perhaps I'm a little off base on this, but I've got a pretty good idea of what police officers in this country go through as far as training. I'm not sure if correctional officers are at that same level, so that standard has to be raised up.
    They've got to continue to look for the best people. We always see on TV advertisements to join the military and the RCMP. I don't live in Ontario, but perhaps it's the OPP. When was the last time anybody saw an advertisement on TV advertising positions in a correctional facility? That's one of the ways the standards can be raised.
    Addictions training is important. People have to understand that if they're working with people with addictions and they're saying they have a disease, but they don't really believe that.... Everybody in this room will admit that addiction is a disease. How many people in this room really believe that, that addictions are on par with cancer? I didn't. Not for years. I do now. I see it.
    The training standards.... Some of their uniforms, you know....


    I think we have time for one quick question and a quick response.
    I'm not familiar with the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Can you tell me what kinds of pressures it might be under? Is it usually full? Is there double bunking? Are these kinds of things normal? And will that get solved with a new correctional centre?
    At the moment we are full, and that's why this new facility is being built. We've got, I think, a $67 million facility that's just being built. We should be moving into it this spring. At that point, it should be single bunking.
    You are double bunked now?
    We are in a dorm situation where everything is double bunked. We've got 26--
    And that was the case at the time of your incident?
    That was a central cell block. It wasn't full, but, yes, there were four people in that one cell.
    So you think that contributed to the incident?
    No, not at all.
    All right. Thank you, Mr. Garrison.
    Now we will move back to the government side, to Ms. Young.
     I want to join my colleagues in saying thank you so much for coming today, and for sharing your stories and these real-life experiences, which we are already learning from—I most certainly am.
    If I may, I'll share with you some of the testimony that we've heard from various witnesses. I'm going to pull various threads and themes that we've heard. I want to reassess those themes with you to see if you agree or disagree with them.
    We've heard that 80% of the people who become incarcerated, at the time of their crime, were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. That was a significant influence on them, which is why they were involved in that crime.
    We've also heard that upon entering the facility.... The Conservative government approved $122 million in additional funding some three years ago, which has contributed to the possibility of these drug prevention programs, as well as the health assessments and mental health assessments that are now going on within 90 days of the inmate's incarceration.
    We've heard from the head of Corrections that this has resulted in a decrease in inmates participating in drugs and alcohol within prison, from 12% of testing to 7.5% of testing.
    We've heard that the prisons have now become a target—the men's prisons more than the women's—as a hub for criminal activity, as Mr. Putnam was saying.
    We have also heard that the inmates want treatment, and in some cases they even want to stay to complete their treatment. Whether it's because of a transfer they're coming up against, or because their time is up, they would actually prefer to stay that extra couple of weeks or a month, or whatever it takes, to complete their treatment.
    Would you agree with some of these things that we've heard? Has that been your experience?
    Yes, I would agree with that; it sounds pretty close to right on. Even in Whitehorse—the small area that we are—that's pretty accurate.
    Thank you, Mr. Van De Mortel.
    Mr. Putnam.
    For the most part, I think I'd agree with the statements that have been made.
     I can't put a percentage on it, but I know that it pretty much correlates with the people who I've dealt with on the streets over the years. I'd say perhaps close to 80% of those I ever arrested were under the influence of some sort of substance. That's not uncommon. We used to say in the police world that if there was no alcohol in the country, there would be no police; there would be no need for them.
    So yes, those are fairly accurate statements.
    I have a number of very specific questions after this. Would you give me your experiences in terms of these prisons that have now become drug hubs? Mr. Van De Mortel, working inside, and, Mr. Putnam, in terms of working on the outside, do you think there are more measures that this government can put in place?
    We've heard that due to the investment of $122 million from this Conservative government, across the country there's been a forward, positive movement in terms of cutting down on drugs and alcohol in prisons. What are we doing around supporting that externally, particularly with the prisons being hubs of all of these activities?
    We've also heard from officers that these are complex systems now, as you were saying. The gangs are involved, and very often the money doesn't even go inside but to, one may say, offshore accounts or whatever. This is all happening and revolving around the prison.
    The prison is actually just a place where these things—the threats, the drugs, the sales, and the money—happen. But so much of the actual organization—money, pressures, and everything—happens outside. And as in the case of your son, things are even being planned before and after the fact. What can we do to work on those aspects?


    I wish I had a quick answer for you. Let's put it this way. In the drug world, the high-end drug dealers don't need the prisons to survive or make a living. That's minimal to them. There are thousands of people across the country, outside of prisons, who will use and get drugs.
    The fact is that there are a lot of inmates within the prison system who want the drugs. Where there's a want, somebody is going to provide it.
    Getting back to healing and drug programs, I think that's the bottom line. Again, all this goes back to the guys on the floor—the inmates—who want the programs to be implemented. And the more of that you do, eventually you're going to reduce the amount of drugs within the system, but it really starts with the inmates wanting the drugs. A lot of them are coming in addicted, and they're in the system for six months to a year, maybe two years. If they don't get the treatment programs they should be getting, they're going to go back out on the street, and nothing changes.
    I'm not sure if that answers your question or not, but....
    You have 20 seconds to summarize.
    Very quickly, Mr. Van De Mortel, do you have a response to that?
    No, actually, I don't. I'm more inside, dealing with that. There can always be more, in Whitehorse anyway. There's not enough help for them on the outside.
    Just to reaffirm, you did not feel that the double-bunking situation contributed to your injury?
    Double-bunking had nothing to do with it.
    And the new facility that you're anticipating in the spring, will that be a positive and a good thing for both inmates and staff?
    It will be very positive.
    We'll now move to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please.
     You have seven minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Putnam and Mr. Van De Mortel, for coming here and telling your stories.
    Mr. Putnam, I think your son would be proud of you for being here today, as would yours, Mr. Van De Mortel. You've done us a great service by coming here. Thank you also for what you've done and what you do to keep our society safe, as a former RCMP officer, Mr. Putnam, and as a corrections officer, Mr. Van De Mortel.
    It's particularly important to have you here today, because often the witnesses who come to see us, even though they have some real-life experience in the area we're studying...sometimes we are witness to some very theoretical briefs. It is sometimes really hard to get a good detailed image of what's really going on, on the ground. That is why our visits last week to Collins Bay and Joyceville were so instructive.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, the incident that occurred the night you were injured was the result of a brew. We've been told all along that these are not particularly appetizing drinks, that they're made out of things you could never imagine could be used to make a brew.
     How do we prevent these brews from being made? Is it possible? Are inmates, just by virtue of the fact that they have access to food and what have you, always going to be able to make these brews?
    In answering that question, could you refer to a point either you or Mr. Putnam made about how it will no longer be just a matter of having blinds in front of the windows on cell doors, that there will be, and I forget the term that was used, more direct supervision. Will that prevent brews from being made? What does direct supervision mean, actually?


    Direct supervision means that there will be an officer in the unit at all times. Where you have a unit with inmates--I believe the new prison has four male units and one female unit--while the inmates are out and about, there will be an officer in that unit.
    That's someone who can verify what's going on in the cells?
    Yes. They're checking and helping inmates with day-to-day stuff, helping with course work. For whatever help the inmates need, they come to that front-line officer. As well, when the officer is there, he has eyes on all the time. It's not just a camera now. There's an officer in there walking around, spending the whole day with the inmates.
    Is he going in and out of cells? And that doesn't exist at the moment?
    Our building was built in the 1960s. We have converted at least five of our dorms into direct supervision, but right now we don't have the manpower half the time to actually staff those units.
    When we went to visit Collins Bay we saw the ionizers and the sniffer dog. There are of course now what they call “dry loos”. It seems almost impossible to bring drugs into the prison unless they're thrown over the fence or the wall, though doing so seems less and less likely, as Corrections Canada devotes more resources to patrolling the perimeter of an institution.
    Yet from what we're hearing from both of you, it seems much more rampant than that. There's a whole society within the prison built around the exchange of drugs. There's intimidation, and the tentacles reach outside the prison walls. I'm having a hard time reconciling the two. It seems so hard to bring the drugs in, yet they seem to be there.
    Do you have any comments to make?
     If there's a will, there's a way. They find ways. A lot of them aren't dumb people. They've got time; they think about it and they come up with ways to do it. We're all human. I know there are officers who do bring it in for them, which is another thing.
    You mentioned that it's very important that the front-line staff, because of the good relationship they often have with the inmates, be brought into the effort to get inmates to follow the programs, that they be brought in as agents of support. I wasn't quite sure what you meant, but does that relate to what you just said before about having somebody on the ground all the time, going in and out of cells and just chatting and establishing relationships and being there to offer encouragement? Is that sort of what you're getting at?
    Yes, it is.
    Mr. Putnam, you said, and I think we all know what you mean by this, that you had more peace of mind sometimes when your son was in the penitentiary than when he was out, because it was in some ways a safer environment. We know that this is ultimately not what you wanted for your son. Is it just because the programs outside of the system are not effective in helping people combat their addictions? We're at the point where we're almost throwing our hands up in frustration and saying it's better that they be in the institution, where things are structured and there are protections. Is it because of the failure of community-based programs?


    No. I meant that when Christopher was incarcerated, we knew where he was. He'd phone us every night; we'd talk a little bit and he'd tell us about his day inside, which usually wasn't that exciting. When he was outside, Christopher was a real high-risk person. He would do anything. He was a horrible...I don't want to use the word “drunk”. He did not handle alcohol at all. He's one of these guys that you'd find in a snow bank. He would get into a car and roll the car.
    When he was on a roll, so to speak, we were terrified. It sort of came and went. There'd be good months, a couple of good months, and then things would rapidly get out of control, and that's when he'd end up back in jail. One day, it was a Friday afternoon, his mother and I didn't know where he was. We hadn't seen him for a day or so. The stress level in the house was going right through the roof. The phone rang, and the number that came up was the correctional centre and it was him. It was one of these “Ah, thank goodness, he's safe” reactions.
    I'm sure he didn't like being in jail, but he was always okay with it.
    Thank you.
    I have no further questions.
    Thank you very much.
    We'll now move back to Mr. Sandhu, please, for five minutes on the second round.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I also want to echo my colleague's earlier remarks and thank you for being here. We very much appreciate you sharing your personal and painful experiences with this committee. We really do appreciate that.
    We've heard over the last number of weeks now that every prison has its own challenges. The female and male prisons have different challenges with regard to drugs in the prisons. There are different ways of achieving success in each one of those prisons, and we've heard from a number of different corrections workers as to how that success is achieved.
    We've also heard over the last couple of weeks that in order for us to have sort of bold model prisons, we need to take a balanced approach. That includes effective programs, rehabilitation programs, treatment, and also some form of interdiction. So my question for both of you is, would it be fair to say that in order to have a better system we need to take a fair, balanced approach in dealing with drugs?
     I'm not sure exactly sure what that term “balanced approach” means.
    Let me go over that again. If we're going to have a drug-free prison, if we're going to have a better system in place, a balanced approach would be having better programs, better treatment, and better interdiction programs, or a balance of those three in order for us to have drug-free prisons.
    Regardless of where you are, things could always get better. At least in my view, there certainly should be programs available. There certainly should be vigilance on the part of correctional staff and law enforcement to make sure they keep the drugs out of there.
    Interdiction, certainly. I think we've probably talked about that here today, or maybe expressed it already. Where I'm coming from is not working inside of a prison. I look at it from the outside more than anything. It's again the training, the programming, help, hope, and healing.
     I don't think I'm answering your question.


    I'll come back to you. I'll hear from Mr. Van De Mortel.
    Yes, everything helps. The main thing is just to try to keep the drugs and the alcohol out of prisons, period. That's going to be the biggest step and the biggest help with starting all these other programs and making them successful. Take that temptation away from them and they can make a clear and conscious decision without the threat of getting hurt, or something along those lines, and you can move forward from there. The programs and that kind of stuff will have a better effect on the inmates.
    Thank you.
    We've seen the prison population increase over the last number of years, especially since the two-for-one was eliminated. We also know it's going to increase further with the introduction of Bill C-10, which is before Parliament.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, do you believe this will have a negative effect on your ability or your workers' ability to remove contraband in the prison system?
    By having more people? No, it shouldn't, if we do our jobs. We're looking good in Whitehorse because we're getting that new facility, so we're hoping it will be easier for us and more successful for us to keep the contraband out of the jail. In Whitehorse, anyway, we are set up to move forward and it shouldn't be a problem for us.
    Thank you, Mr. Van De Mortel.
    We'll move to Madam Hoeppner, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to thank both of you as well for being here and for your candid stories and your personal experiences. I just want to tell you, Mr. Putnam, your son's death was not in vain. Mr. Van De Mortel, your injury was not in vain because of what you're able to help people like us learn. So I just thank you very much for that.
    We heard testimony from a guard from Stony Mountain Institution that, in his opinion, the majority of drugs that were brought into prisons were not just for personal use. So it was not just people smuggling them in through family members for their own personal drug addiction, but it was to distribute and sell in the prison.
    From your experience, Mr. Van De Mortel, would you agree that's the reason that drugs are being smuggled in by family members or other means?
    I would agree with that totally.
     Thank you.
    We heard some conflicting testimony. Early on in our study, we heard that strong interdiction methods were very intrusive for family members. I was quite surprised, and I disagreed with the premise that family members should not be searched because it didn't make them feel comfortable. We heard that testimony, and then we heard another individual testify that probably the best way to keep drugs out was for families to know that they would be intercepted at the gate.
    Mr. Putnam, I'm wondering if you can just speak about your son's experience for a moment where he was pressured to bring drugs in. If he had known that the methods at the gate at the prison were such that there would be no way--there would be dogs, there would be scanners, there would be searches--and he would be able to say to these individuals pressuring him, “Listen, guys, I'm going to get caught, you know what it's like at that place”, would that have stopped him? If he had been sentenced after his parole and if things had gone differently.... Would you agree that strong interdiction methods are a deterrent to bringing drugs in, or are they just a hassle and a problem for family members coming to visit?


    I think they are definitely a deterrent. I can't imagine being a superintendent of a correctional facility anywhere and allowing friends or family members to have free rein, just coming and going as they please and not being checked or searched.
    Would it have stopped my son? Probably not, in his case. In a lot of other cases, probably for a great percentage it would have. His view of the whole thing was that the punishment he would get for being caught was less than the punishment he'd get for not bringing it in.
    Following that logic, should the punishment be harsher for bringing it in?
    I think it should be on par with.... Here, I'm not 100% clear. If people are bringing it in and they get caught, I believe they're dealt with internally through an internal process of the correctional facilities. It should at least be on par I think with the criminal court systems.
    You have to remember, too, inasmuch as it's distasteful to talk about this, a lot of the drugs are brought into facilities internally.
    Exactly, yes, which is why I'm wondering if even stronger and more thorough methods need to be guaranteed so that individuals know they won't be able to do it.
    Are you talking about X-rays and full-body scanners?
    How much time do I have?
    You have a minute and a half.
    We heard testimony from individuals who are professionals and experts, but they don't have the experience that either of you have. They don't have the experience in prisons. They talk about harm reduction, and I find that quite an ironic term because harm reduction doesn't seem to be harm reduction for officers. They talk about allowing needles in prisons, and they've testified to us that there would be no problem; officers would not have to worry about the needles being used as weapons.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, can you please tell us how you feel about needles in prisons, not only for your safety but for inmates who are trying to behave themselves and not get into any trouble?
    That whole concept is just absurd to me, personally. I don't want any needles in there at all. They can say they're not going to use them as weapons, or what have you, but right now they shouldn't be getting drugs and brews in there and they're doing it. They will find a way to get that needle into their dorms and use it for other purposes. It will happen.
    What about for inmates? We were told guards can wear gloves. Do other inmates have that assurance of safety if there would be needles and other drug paraphernalia provided?
    As I say, they will get the needles where they want to get them, and then they can use them against other inmates, as well as officers. It won't be safe for anybody.
    Thank you.
    Thank you very much, Ms. Hoeppner.
    We will now go to Madam Morin.


    First of all, I want to thank our witnesses. I must say that I am very impressed by the courage you have shown, coming here today. Your stories are exceedingly touching, and I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you.
    My first question is for Mr. Van De Mortel. You said something very interesting earlier. You said that the officers are the programs. Do you think that the corrections officers are sufficiently integrated in the rehabilitation programs, the reintegration programs, the prevention and treatment programs for drug addiction?


     Yes, there is training. There are some officers, obviously, who have had more training. That's where it would help to have all officers on a level playing field and all get trained. A lot of this other training is done personally. You take it up on your own. It would be much better if it were mandatory for every officer to get this extra training.
    As I said, we're with these inmates at all times. We're the ones who talk to them day to day. They come to us with the stories, and we're the ones who can actually help them make the right decisions.


    Are you talking about mandatory training programs that would be part of your job, for example, training on addiction, as you were saying, and also maybe on psycho-social measures and those kinds of things? Would that be something that would be useful to the corrections officers who want to help the inmates?



    Yes, that would help. It would help us do our jobs and help us understand and enable us to help them more productively.


    Right now, if I am not mistaken, the training programs that are available are used when the officers want them; they decide if they are going to take the training or not. Nothing is mandatory.


    There is a lot of extra course work officers have to take on their own initiative afterwards. As officers, we get very basic training, but for the high-end addiction stuff, we have to take our own initiative.


    Thank you.
    My next question is for both our witnesses.
    My colleague talked about the inmate population that has been increasing for the last few years and that will continue to increase. Mr. Putnam, you said that most inmates wanted to turn their lives around, that they were proud when they managed to do it. In addition, when we discussed the increase in the inmate population, you said that it wouldn't prevent you from doing your job, from intercepting drugs or other forbidden items.
    Over the last few weeks, we were told of a concern that we also have here, and it is the following. If the inmate population were to increase markedly, would all the inmates with an addiction problem who wish to stop using drugs have access to drug treatment and rehabilitation programs within a reasonable period of time? I mean during the first few weeks of their entering the correctional facility.


    I have to apologize. I didn't get the question.


    If the inmate population increases, will all inmates who want to turn their lives around have access to drug treatment and rehabilitation programs?


    I don't know, specifically, the answer to that question. I shouldn't be talking about Bill C-10, which I've not read. It's going to increase the prison population, or some people believe it is. I don't know if that's true or not. Again, I don't know. I'm not working in a correctional facility. I don't know if all inmates are going to have access to rehab programs. That would be my wish. I would like to see that happen, and I'd like to see the government move in that direction.
    I know there are some available in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I don't know what it's like in the federal penitentiaries. I also worked in Alberta for quite a number of years and in the Northwest Territories. There are small correctional facilities there, and there were programs available. But to say it's going to be available to all inmates at all times, I don't know. I don't have the answer to that question. But I know there are programs available.
     Thank you.
    We'll now go to Mr. Norlock.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to you witnesses for being here and sharing your personal experiences. I can only imagine how difficult they are.
    I was 30 years with the Ontario Provincial Police, so I have some knowledge of the criminal justice system.
    Mr. Putnam, you asked whether we could do more. Well, we can always do more, but it never seems to be enough no matter what you do, whether you're in government or anywhere else.
    I'd like you to comment on the situation today versus 20 or 30 years ago, regarding addiction programs in our institutions. I understand there are territorial and provincial institutions involved and that we're basically dealing with federal ones. But would you say that programs for inmates today are much better than they were 20 or 30 years ago?


    I would agree with that totally. Back in those days, as I recall, there wasn't much happening. I see programs happening today. As you said, we never do enough, but we do try to move forward. I agree with your statement.
    Looking at before versus today, would you agree that the abuses we had 20 to 30 years ago tended to be primarily with alcohol? The percentage of people going into our prisons was probably the same for those affected by substance, but it was more concentrated on alcohol than it is today. Now we face a combination of alcohol and drugs.
    I also wanted to look at the types of drugs that the young and not-so-young folks are taking today. With alcohol you can have one, two, or three beers two or three times a month and you're not addicted. But two or three experiences with crack cocaine usually, if not always, leads to an addiction. Certain other drugs lead to almost immediate addiction because of the power and the psychological effect of the drug. Would you agree with me on that, and if you have any experiences, could you tell us about them?
    Back in the day, there was marijuana, heroin, LSD, and these types of drugs. Heroin was usually set aside for the skid row heroin addict. There was marijuana. Alcohol was always there. You would see, working with young people and older people as well, that people might have a couple of drinks a week and carry on with their lives. They might have a couple of drinks a day and carry on with their lives. Today, though, you will rarely see a person staying at those levels for long.
    I've seen many young people get into drugs. Their whole attitude changes. Their deportment changes. Their appearance changes. Their whole lifestyle goes downhill rapidly. You always hear of parents who talk about their child in grade 10 or 11 who was doing great in school and playing sports, but who got into drugs and the next year quit sports and fell to barely getting by.
    Thank you.
    We'll now move to Mr. Chicoine.


    Good morning to both of you. Thank you for coming and sharing with us your very harrowing experiences.
    I will start with Mr. Van De Mortel. Your experience was due to inmates having drunk an alcohol that had been brewed inside the institution, probably with a still or something like that. Could something have prevented this incident? For example, could you have discovered it earlier? What could have prevented this from happening to you?



     Yes, if we were able to catch it on the search, get rid of the brew, obviously that would have prevented the incident.
    Sorry, what was the second part of the question?


    That was the only part. I wanted to know if more frequent searches would have revealed the problem. I don't know much about stills. Generally, are they kept inside the cells?


    They come up with some pretty good hiding places. It can be in the toilet, in the back of the toilet, in garbage bags, just hidden amongst stuff. It's all over the place, and it is nasty stuff. It does take a lot of time and it takes a lot of effort. These are conscious decisions. These aren't addicts needing their fix right now. This is a conscious decision over a period of a couple of weeks, fixing this brew, waiting for it to get ready, and then consciously drinking it. There's a lot of effort put into doing that.
    In our situation in Whitehorse, a lot of times we're understaffed, so searches are hard to do as much as we would like to, which is why it could have been missed.


    Thank you. I understand better.
    You say it takes weeks. Therefore, there are various areas where the cells aren't searched for weeks. If it takes weeks to produce alcohol, I suppose that the cells aren't searched very often.


    We try to search them as often as we can, but as I said, our manpower right now is low, so we don't get as many searches in as we want to. We would love to go through every unit at least twice a week, just go right through, but it disrupts everything in the facility for that day. It takes extra officers on the floor, and you've got to move all the inmates out of the unit so you can go there and do a proper search. As I said, right now manpower is the big issue with that.


    Could you also talk about your experience with people who don't want to get back on track. Some witnesses, in other committees, have told us that about 20% of criminals arriving in the penitentiary have no wish whatsoever to try to get over their addiction problem.
    How do you do the screening, inside the penitentiaries? I suppose these 20% are separated from the other 80% who wish to change and make the necessary efforts. Do you think that the screening, or the way that the penitentiary wings are divided, is satisfactory?


    It's hard to determine who wants to and who doesn't want to. You've got to get them clear off the drugs and stuff first in order for them to actually make the clear decision as to whether they really want to stay off them and move forward with their lives.
    When we have certain inmates who continually try to bring drugs in or are continually smoking to get high and getting caught, we do separate them. We do put them in celled units where they do get locked down at night, rather than having a dorm where they're up and free during nights. We do what we can to separate those, I guess, problematic inmates from those who aren't.


    So it's difficult to sort out the inmates. In the beginning, I would think there are assessments, but even those don't really make it easy to find out who truly wants to get over their addiction. I guess, since it's always the same people who come back, that there is a core group made up of those 20% of hardened criminals, who maybe more often come from street gangs or criminal gangs.
    How do you proceed? Are members of these gangs sent to other wings of the penitentiary? I guess these are the people who want to have drugs brought in. They are your hardened criminals, I think. That's how I see things, but that might not be the case. I would like to hear your thoughts about that. Is it possible to separate members of criminal gangs from the other inmates, the first-timers? Is it difficult to separate the inmate population in such a way?



     Mr. Van De Mortel.
    When we do initially bring them in, and we do have the ones who repeat, we do know their history, especially with us, since it's a small community. We do keep them separate. We do keep them in the celled units rather than in the dorms with the general population.
    We do our best to keep first-timers separate and on their own, to see how they're going to react before we move them, integrate them into the general population and other areas.
    Thank you very much, sir.
    We'll now move back to Mr. Leef, please, for five minutes.
    I'll move through some of these questions rather quickly. They're predominantly for Mr. Van De Mortel.
    I think Mr. Putnam said in his statement that a lot of people are unaware of the environment and the things that go on behind the walls of a correctional facility. Certainly members of this committee got an experience with that last week.
    I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that in direct supervision, which you talked about, they have activities and programs being run and developed by the officers. They have television access, Xbox games, and those sorts of things.
    Would it be fair to say that when they're in those units and environments, they're not bored?
    No, they're not bored. We do keep them busy.
    Then we wouldn't attribute use of alcohol and drugs in the environment boiling down to a simple issue of boredom and a lack of things to do.
    Mr. Tony Van De Mortel: No.
    Mr. Ryan Leef: In talking about searches and your opportunities, you talked about staffing levels.
    On a different perspective, would you say there is a degree of personal entitlement that resonates with the inmates and creates a rift when officers want to come in and search a unit? They feel entitled to their space and their cell, they don't want you searching, and that creates conflict between inmates and officers. That may also contribute to some officers not wanting to search or those searches being reduced because of that level of entitlement. Would that be a fair comment?
    Yes, that would be fair.
    Going back to your particular incident, can you maybe just let us know what the sanctions were, or maybe just say whether or not the sanctions, in your opinion, were sufficient in terms of dealing with what was done to you, either criminally or internally for the inmates involved in this incident? Was it at an appropriate level?
    Not in my opinion. I go home on Wednesday and the guy who did this to me will be free and clear. I will see him on the streets come Wednesday. I don't think that was fair at all. I have to deal with this knee for the rest of my life.
    Do you think, when these kinds of incidents arise, that there should be a stronger look at sanctions that involve violence and clear and conscious choice in those cases, and that stricter penalties would be warranted?
    I think so, yes. Every correctional officer in Whitehorse all felt like they were slapped in the face when his sentence was handed down. It was ridiculous.
    Could you give us just a quick description of a profile of an inmate who would smuggle stuff in? From your experience, the inmates smuggling things in, the inmates who are selling it--do we have the big, tough, strong gang guy smuggling stuff in, or is it the sort of weak and alienated inmate doing it?
     It's usually the weak and alienated who are getting pressured into doing it. They are usually the ones who bring them in.


    When they're storing the drugs, hiding them in the environment, do you ever find drugs, brews, or other contraband with the tough guys? Who ends up wearing the burden of that kind of illicit property or contraband property in a correctional environment?
    It will either be in a neutral place or it will be in the place of a weaker person who is being bullied and forced to keep it in his bed space, and he will get all the charges.
    And then this final question, if I still have a little bit of time, to Mr. Putnam.
    In your experience at the street level, have you ever seen or had an opportunity to work with anybody or interact with a client who has made efforts—and you believed their choice to get drug free in earnest—and then got pulled back into using drugs through, let's say, no fault of their own, not slipping into addiction, but absolutely being pressured right back into it by the criminal element, for lack of a better term?
    Well, I've seen that many times. Just recently, we had a young fellow and his wife who were dealing drugs for another person. They got sick and tired of it. They quit dealing drugs, they quit doing drugs, they went cold turkey, and they were doing pretty well for about six weeks. Then one night they had a knock on their door, and the big guys are there, asking him how he's doing. He said he had quit, and they said, “Oh, congratulations, here's a little something.” They gave him some crack just to get him through the rough times. That was like leaving a chocolate bar to a five-year-old and saying “Don't touch that.” And he and his wife were back into it within a day.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Leef.
    We'll stay with the government side, with Ms. Hoeppner.
    I'll continue, thank you.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, can you explain a little clearer for us? After you were injured like this, attacked this violently, as were some of your colleagues, was it one inmate or were there several inmates who were charged? What were they charged with, and what was their extended sentence?
    There were three inmates involved. Actually, one inmate was being assaulted himself, and once we had removed him from the cell, then we just had to deal with the two. I mean, the guy who broke my nose, he pled guilty, and I believe he got an 18-month sentence, with his other charges added on with that. The other guy, he is doing a federal term now, but he had a bunch of other charges as well, so it wasn't just this incident that he was charged on. I mean, what they received for this incident with me was minimal.
    And in actual time served, can you give us what their net time served would have been for just the incident they committed against you?
    Actually, I have no idea what—
    Let's say, for example, the one who got 18 months—
    He got 18 months for breaking my nose, and he also—
    —would he also serve an additional 18 months, or would he only serve a portion of that?
    I'm not too sure what his story is. I think that was his total sentence, and then he would have served actually less than that. He didn't get any more charges, and he had some time taken away from him. He was supposed to be out in October, and, yes, he's out November 2 now.
    So he'll be out, as you said, on Wednesday.
    On Wednesday, yes.
    Mr. Putnam, can we just go back to your experience as an investigator in Whitehorse, and the work that you did with drug criminals? Did you have any occasion to be able to interact with dealers who were bringing drugs into the prison? We're trying to get a handle on just exactly how outside drugs get into prisons, in terms of the criminal organizational aspect of it. Can you tell us a little bit? Do you have any experience with that?
    We have to appreciate we're talking about Whitehorse, which has a very small population. There is a criminal element, and there is somewhat of an organization to it. But I don't think there are gangs, as such, in our jail. There are bullies, who have a lot of power and influence over individual people like my son.
    I don't know if it's fair to say it's well organized with the drugs coming into our jail. I think it's probably more random than anything.


     What would the motivation be, though, for these bullies? Is it to sell the drugs? Is it just to get the drugs in for their own use? Or what's their motivation? Is it to make money?
    They sell the drugs. If you have an illegal substance inside a jail or penitentiary, that illegal substance gives you power. They don't have money, as such, passing back and forth.
    Even cigarettes can be a powerful weapon. You have control. An addicted smoker will do practically anything for a cigarette. If you're in jail for a long period of time, it could be as much as a cigarette for half of your meal tonight. They also have canteens there, so it could be a little bit of canteen, or perhaps even sexual favours.
    So that's the motivation. The other part of it is simply having power over other people.
    In your experience, Mr. Van De Mortel, do the inmates have access to money? Do they have bank accounts that they can deposit money in?
    If money would be the motivation, is that something that—
    They do have accounts, yes. People can put money into their accounts and they can spend it on the canteen or whatever they need. So yes, they do have money.
    Do you find that the canteen is a way for drugs to be brought in, or where the trade occurs? We heard some testimony about concerns with regard to who's running the canteens in prisons.
    No, in our situation in Whitehorse, we don't believe so.
    Who runs them in your situation?
    A fellow named Mark.
    An inmate or staff?
    He's a staff member.
    So in your situation, staff run the canteens?
    Yes, staff run the canteen.
    So it's not other inmates.
    No, it's not inmates.
    Thank you very much.
    How much time do I have left?
     You have three seconds left.
    Ms. Candice Hoeppner: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    The Chair: We'll now move back to Mr. Sandhu, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Basically, we want to understand the systemic issue of violence in prisons and the systemic use of drugs and alcohol in prisons.
    Mr. Putnam, you talked about demand reduction to reduce supply. Can you give us what you think would be the best strategies to reduce the demand for drugs in prisons?
    To reduce the demand?
    Right. What would be the best strategies to reduce the demand for drugs in prisons?
    Well, if you had effective drug rehabilitation within the prisons, and people were buying into those programs, then the demand, I would think, obviously would decrease.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, what are the best strategies to reduce violence in prisons?
    Keep drugs and alcohol and all that out of the prisons. If people are not intoxicated, they make more helpful choices. Their thinking capacity is a lot better. They make proper choices.
    I mean, most of these guys are very respectful toward officers--in our situation, anyway, in Whitehorse--but when they get under the influence, which is why they're there, they're totally different people.
    So if we keep that stuff out of the prisons as much as possible, it just makes everybody a lot safer, and it's a lot easier.
    Would you agree there are two sides to illicit drugs in prisons, the demand side and the supply side?
    Yes. I mean, if there's no demand, there's no need for supply.
    We talked about some of the ways we can reduce supply. Can you suggest some of the ways we can also reduce the demand for drugs in prison?
    I just have to reflect what Mr. Putnam said: better and more effective programs and having inmates who buy into them and want to do them. That would be the biggest change and the best start.
    For the programs in place right now, if they want to enrol in a drug treatment program, for instance, how long do they have to wait?


    Some are waiting for a while. It's not as readily available as it should be, or as we'd like to see. There does need to be a little bit more done--at least in Whitehorse. I'm not sure what it's like in federal prisons. They might have a little better timeline than we do in Whitehorse.
    When an inmate who comes into your facility is addicted to a drug, would it be fair to say that in order to reduce the demand we should have a program available for them right at the beginning?
     Yes, once he's detoxed and can make a proper decision, it would be good.
    It would be critical to have the program available if a person comes in with an addiction; they would want some drugs at the outset. Yet if we provide them with a proper treatment program, available right at the beginning, would that help reduce the demand?
    It would, if he were getting help and it works. It all starts with the need for him to want to do it as well. It's not just—
    But provided that they do want it...?
    Yes, it would help.
    How long is the wait to get into...?
    I don't know right now. At Whitehorse it could be a couple of weeks or a couple of months; I'm not sure. We have a lot of remand inmates who are only there awaiting their court cases. There are a lot of short-term people there. We have people who are in on Monday and out on Friday—that type of deal—and for a short couple of months, and this and that. It's hard to fit it in for many of these people, because they are in and out in such short periods of time.
    You've been with corrections for about three and a half years?
    It's about three and a half years.
    Would you say the violence in prisons has increased or decreased over the last three years?
    It has decreased. When I first started there, we were getting calls quite often to go and break up fights. We have had arsons, fires. We work four days on and four off, and I went through a four-day set when every day there was something, whether it was a fire, an attempted suicide, or a fight. Now we can go for months without any kind of incident whatsoever. So yes, things are getting better.
    Would you say—
     I've been so intrigued with your line of questioning, Mr. Sandhu, that I have let you go way over, and that's a terrible thing.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    The Chair: Now we'll move back to Mr. Norlock.
    I apologize, Mr. Sandhu.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    A voice: We won't go over this time.
    Mr. Rick Norlock: I know you certainly won't from this end.
    Mr. Putnam, there was a reason my questioning was going along those lines, that it worked its way back to drugs and alcohol in the prison.
    It's of interest to note, perhaps for some of my colleagues who may be new to the criminal justice file, that your institution is for sentences of two years less a day; in other words, it's the same as a provincial institution. It is not a federal institution, but there are a lot of similarities between the two. One of the problems, we know, in our provincial institution is that if you want a drug program to work, the person needs to be in that actual state of addiction—and Mr. Putnam can come into this after you say yes or no to what I am saying.
    For people who are addicted, especially with serious addictions to drugs and alcohol.... I have friends and relatives who have an addiction to alcohol; they have been a part of AA for 20 years and it's still a battle for them.
    Would you not agree with me that it would be difficult in a provincial institution to provide the kinds of substantive addiction programs that one might find in a federal institution? Is that not a common theme?
    Yes, that would be a common theme for territorial and provincial institutions.
    Mr. Putnam, would you agree with the statement that drug programs—in other words, to get someone back relatively healthy and off drugs—are lifelong, that it's just not a two-year course and then you get a certificate and you're drug free forever?
    It's a battle forever, I believe, and I base that statement on the fact that I've spoken to many recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. Alcoholics will never tell you that they're not alcoholics any more. They always say they're a recovering alcoholic. It's the same with drug addictions and it's the same with cigarette smoking.


     That's because they're all addictive.
    My questioning before had to do with the types of drugs people are on and how they affect the person with just a few usages. Now we get to drug interdiction in prisons. It's rather hard to sneak a case of 24 beer or a 26-ounce bottle of liquor into a prison, but it's relatively easier to get a packet of cocaine or crack cocaine in a condom placed in a body cavity or ingested with a triple condom—those kinds of drugs, especially crack cocaine and other types of drugs like it.
    This is for Mr. Van De Mortel.
    These types of drugs in and of themselves can cause the kind of problem in prison that you had. That's point number one, if you'd comment on it.
    Number two is, what is your institution doing about the brew situation now that this occurrence has taken place? What types of measures did your institution take to search for and dissuade people from getting involved with the brew mix?
    On the first point, yes, I agree with your statement.
    What our institution did initially was pretty much rearrange that whole unit. We used to have benches in there, which prevented officers from getting there more quickly and just got in the way during fights. We removed the benches.
    We added two more cameras in that unit. We had never had cameras in the cells before; they had the whole cell, and that was a blind spot for the whole institution. So we added cameras in those cells. As far as the cell units go, we try to do our searches a little more often. We're just more vigilant about our officer presence, walking through the unit. They know that officers are there and that we are watching and trying to dissuade them from making brews.
    They have taken a lot of the juices away for snack time. They have snacks on weekends, and that's where they were getting a lot of their juices. We've eliminated juices during snack time; they get no drinks at that time at all, no drugs. That's pretty much what we've done so far.
    Thank you, Mr. Norlock. You had an extra eight seconds there.
    We'll now move back to Mr. Scarpaleggia.
    Thank you, Chair.
     I'd like to continue along the line of questioning of Mr. Sandhu, when he was talking with Mr. Van De Mortel about the incidence of violence. If I understood correctly, you said it has gone down.
    In the three and a half has gone down from when I started, yes.
    What is the reason for that? Can you point to a specific factor?
    Direct supervision has helped, knowing that there's more of an officer presence, that we're in the units. That's probably one of the biggest factors: more officer presence.
    And yet you said before that because of budget constraints, there still aren't enough officers present to properly control the consumption of drugs and alcohol in the prison. In fact, when we were visiting Joyceville, I think it was, they were telling us once again about how drugs can be thrown over the prison wall; they said they have patrols and that the patrols can be effective, but they don't have enough of them, and so on.
    It seems to be that one of the areas in which we could make some progress is in giving more resources to correctional facilities to hire more officers and do more patrols. It sounds as though that alone would have a marked impact on violence and on drug use. Would you agree?


    I would agree with that, yes.
    Going back to the issue of searches of visitors, when we were at Collins Bay, they said to us that every visitor must go through an ionizer scanner and also that they could be introduced to a sniffer dog, if you want to put it that way. If there were a suspicion that they were carrying drugs, there could be a physical search, but only if the person signed a waiver and only if it's conducted by medical professionals.
    Is that correct? Is that how it works in your facility?
     Actually, in our facility, we don't have the dogs. We don't have the ion scanner. All we pretty much do with visitors is use a metal wand. We are unable to do any kind of search on--
    That's a bit shocking. I mean, it is a federal institution.
    No, it is not. It is territorial.
    It's territorial. But you don't just have people in there who have done less than two years.
    No, we are two years less a day.
    I see, okay.
    Actually, related to that, we learned that sometimes it's those with the longer sentences who are the easiest to manage. We learned this at Collins Bay. It's their home at this point, and they don't want people coming in on short sentences disrupting the routine and that kind of thing. But as you say, they're all on short sentences in your prison.
    You said there were different classes of inmates. Is it by length of sentence? You seemed to mention, unless I misunderstood at the beginning, that part of the prison was for people in remand. They are being held.
    Oh, no, they're all mixed.
    They're all mixed, the longest sentence to the shortest--
    Yes, they're all mixed.
    —are all together.
    Is that a problem?
    I don't understand it to be. I don't think so, no.
    Okay. It might be a problem where you're mixing maximum security with medium and minimum, perhaps, but you don't have that problem there.
    That's really all I have.
    All right, thank you, Mr. Scarpaleggia.
    We'll go to Madam Morin.


    I am not too sure who should answer this question. Maybe the person who knows best.
    Earlier, we talked about violence and we said that it was often linked to drugs or brews. However, some witnesses have said that violence was not necessarily linked to drugs or brews and could also stem from drug trafficking, criminal gangs inside and outside the prison walls.
    Do you agree with that?


    Well, if you're talking about gangs causing violence within the prison, gangs are funded. They live off the drug trade and prostitution.
    Again, in our correctional centre we've had the occasional gang member, usually somebody who's come to the territory from the south. But for the most part, they're bullies. In Mr. Van De Mortel's case, where he was seriously assaulted, there were three people involved. One, I think, was an older gang member from years gone by, and the other one was just a bully.
    Every bit of violence within the jail isn't always drug related. But if there is a fight between two inmates, and you dig into the reason for that fight, more often than not it stems back to an incident out on the street.
    A lot of the people in our facility are related. A good majority of them come from Whitehorse. Most of them have known each other all their lives. So there are old wounds that haven't healed, and that could cause it as well. The violence, I think, pretty much overall in Whitehorse and in this country stems from drugs.



    Thank you.


    Do you have another one? Yes, go ahead.
    Yes, I have another one.


    You said earlier that you needed effective programs to fight addiction for all the inmates who want to participate in them. However, some inmates might not have enough motivation to enter those programs.
    Do you have a solution to motivate the inmates who are not keen to enter the drug and rehabilitation programs?


     I think it's pretty tough to motivate somebody and make somebody take a drug treatment program. You'll see people who get sentenced in court, and part of their sentence is to abstain from alcohol. If they're outside and they're an addict, that's usually a recipe for disaster.
    Alcoholics Anonymous doesn't go around the community and solicit people to come to their meetings. People have to make a conscious decision to attend those meetings. If they're not there for their own reasons, on their own motivation, then it's likely to fail.
    Having said that, I know there are a lot of people within institutions who want the help. They don't like their lifestyle. There are some who like the lifestyle, the career criminals.
    It's very tough to motivate people. People have to motivate themselves.
    Mr. Aspin, very quickly. We just have a minute. We want to have at least three minutes for committee business.
    As a new member of the committee, I would like to thank you for your unselfish and frank testimony this morning. It's been very helpful to me.
    The one thing we've heard a lot of testimony about over the last month or so, the one thing that I really can't seem to get my head around, and perhaps you, gentlemen, can help me with, is the whole notion of drug debt in prisons.
    Mr. Van De Mortel, could you help me with that, explain just how that works?
    How drug debt works? Either they owe money from the outside or they do pay someone to bring the drugs in and we do catch it. So they're out that money. Somebody owes somebody money for drugs they never received.
     The same thing happens when they pass it around the dorms. People owe for drugs. If it gets brought in and distributed, somebody has to pay for it somehow. If they don't pay, they get their payment in another way, or they get motivated to pay.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Again, the long trip was worth it. Thank you for coming from the Yukon and for giving us some personal experience stories that I think helped all members of all parties here. We want to thank you for that. We wish you both all the best as you both recover as well from the instances you've each explained in your stories and the consequences of them. We wish all the best to your families.
     We're going to suspend just for a moment or two. That doesn't mean we're all going to get up and leave. Perhaps if Mr. Putnam and Mr. Van De Mortel want to wait in the back, or even if they want to wait out there, I know that some of our members would like to shake your hand and thank you for coming.
    We do want to have about five minutes for committee business, just to set up for Thursday, if there are some questions as to what Thursday is going to look like, and there seem to be some questions.
    We will suspend and reconvene in about 30 seconds.
     I'll call us back to order. We don't have to go in camera on this.
    Basically, my understanding is that I think I would like to see a steering committee fairly soon. It appears we may be getting some legislation. If that is the case, what I'm going to need is a list of witnesses, and I'm going to need it so that our clerks and analysts can prepare and get hold of some of these people so that when we come back from break week, we're going to have them here.
    It's always been that we like to start out with the minister or the department and then go into our witnesses. So all parties, government and opposition parties, should be starting to put together a witness list.
    Ms. Hoeppner.


    I think you're correct. I think we'll have a government bill before us by Thursday, and that does take precedence over any study we're doing. I would highly recommend we prepare now. Any time a bill is introduced, usually the very first witnesses are the officials and the minister. I think if they are willing to appear, it would be better to be prepared for that than have Thursday with nothing to do.
    I think we should probably have a steering committee to plan out the bulk of the study, but we should ask if the minister can appear on Thursday. My understanding is that he is willing to do that.
     Mr. Sandhu.
    Mr. Chair, we're open for bills coming in. However, it's very short notice with regard to having a bill and the minister speaking here in a couple of days. We would ask that we do the planning part of it on Thursday with regard to how we proceed with this, and the minister would appear the first day after the break week.
    We've got a different critic for this particular bill, and we would also like to see the availability of that person for Thursday. I think we can definitely arrange it for the following week, but it may be difficult to do it this Thursday.
    Go ahead, Ms. Hoeppner.
    I don't think it was a surprise to anyone that this bill would be, first of all, coming to our committee and the timing of it. We've all been in the House of Commons and seen when the vote was coming up. I do respect that it's maybe a challenge for your particular critic, but there will be a lot of other opportunities, depending on how long the study is. I don't want to see Thursday wasted. It's completely normal, it's precedence, and it's expected that when a bill is referred to us we look at that bill. Again, I think Thursday would be the best day to have the minister here.
    Here's the thing. I hate to see all of our time wasted because one of your members can't be here on Thursday. I think that's kind of the bottom line that I'm hearing. Again, it's not a completely unexpected bill. We all knew this bill was coming, that it would be coming to our committee, and we could all see what was going on in the House of Commons.
    Just a quick comment, Mr. Chair. Having been on this committee for five years, I can assure the members across the way that this issue has been thoroughly vetted in the previous Parliament. I would encourage you and your new critic to read the blues on previous testimony. I am extremely doubtful whether anyone would have anything additional to say, because this committee looked at that issue almost a year ago. I think it behooves us to be expeditious, because, quite frankly, this issue has been flogged to death by this Parliament.
    One other thing. The minister will come for one hour. He may have a 10-minute presentation, he may have a 20-minute presentation. Then we will go into one round of a 10-minute....
    I think we have it in the routine proceedings here. Isn't it if a minister is here, it's a higher number? I know in Foreign Affairs it was. Maybe it isn't then. Generally, it's one round.
    The real in-depth questioning is after the minister comes and the witnesses start appearing. That's when it really gets going. The minister is here to kick it off, to explain his legislation, the whys, the whats, the whens.
    Mr. Sandhu.


    I don't want to get into debate here, but all of us on this side are rookies to the Hill. Having said that, I know this bill has been studied to death. However, we represent our constituents. I think it's a responsible way for us to have a proper debate on this bill. I know there are rookies on both sides, so I think it's the only responsible way to represent them.
    I know we've talked about this and we set up the rules for the committee at the beginning, and the rules state that we would require 48 hours' notice for the next committee meeting and witnesses. I believe this is not 48 hours.
    An hon. member: That's for a motion.
    Yes, that's for a motion. Legislation coming down the pike is not a motion. It's the mandate of the committee, basically, to look to that. Generally, when that begins, the opposition is clamouring to have the minister here first. He comes, he kicks it off, and away we go.
    I think you had something else on that, Jasbir, but I may have cut you off.
     That's fine. I know there's a lot of material in this bill. The member across has correctly identified that there is quite a bit of material to be studied, and the blues are out there. We would like the opportunity to study those at least beyond the 48 hours.
    I would put forward a motion to reaffirm the routine motions that we already have established that we look at government legislation as soon as feasible.
    I don't think you need a motion to do that. We've already passed a motion to do that. My intention is that we will do that.
    We will follow our routine motions, which again have no 48-hour requirements for studying government bills.
    No, it comes down as a bill, so you don't need that.
    This is just a part of the information then. We covered everything with the chair.
    We're still going to have to send out an invitation to the minister. I need to tell you that I think we're probably going to proceed with this. I don't think we have a consensus that it should begin, but we have a standing order that says it should begin. The question may be whether or not we want the minister to appear on the first day. If that's the question, then maybe we can have a motion on that.
    From what I understood, he thought that if we were going get it Thursday, he might be able to appear. So we wanted to get the invitation and leave it up to him. Whether he comes Thursday or after the break, generally that's up to him.
    Many times they can't come when the committee asks them to come, so they pick a time. I think he understands the way this was done. Generally speaking, the minister would kick it off. He seemed to understand that he might be available on Thursday, so that's what we're going on, but we still have to send an invitation if we decide to proceed.
    Ms. Young.
    I would say that if this is standard procedure, and what I'm hearing on this side is that this is standard committee procedure, why deviate from it? If the minister is available, he should come.
    I'm just as new as you are. I'm anxious to hear from the minister, and we'd be happy to receive him on Thursday.
    If that's what you want, then we would need a motion.
    I know we're past our time right now, but I would be happy to put a motion that we ask the minister to appear on Bill C-19 this coming Thursday.
    If he can't come then, then after the break?
    Yes, but let's invite him and we'll see. My motion would be that we invite him to appear on Bill C-19 this Thursday.
    Can we have agreement on the steering committee for the first half hour?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Chair: Okay, we have that.
     I have my motion on the table.
    Yes, your motion is on the table. He would then come sometime after that first half hour.
    Just invite him, and then it'll be up to you guys to schedule when it's convenient for the committee on that day. That would be my motion.
    Members have heard the question.
    (Motion agreed to)
    The Chair: The meeting is adjourned.
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