CAB Report 2015 - Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report
2015


Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

London, Ontario

March 11, 2016


Preface

Legislative Authority

Ministry of Correctional Services Act, Section 14.1, 2000, c.40, s.4.

“The Minister may establish a local monitoring board for a correctional institution, composed of persons appointed by the Minister.”

Principal Duties of the Community Advisory Board

  • To satisfy themselves as to the state of the institution premises, the administration of the institution, and the treatment of inmates;
  • To develop effective relationships with the superintendent and share minutes from the Board meetings;
  • To inquire into and report back on any matters requested by the minister;
  • To direct to the attention of the superintendent any matter they consider expedient to report; and
  • To report to the minister any matter which they consider expedient to report, normally achieved through the Annual Report or through exceptional situation reports.

Overview of the Annual Report

One of the required functions of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) is to develop and submit an annual report outlining and describing the Board’s activities of the previous year. The report will also contain observations and recommendations to the Minister, Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS), on aspects of the operation of the institution.

The annual report is submitted to the minister, with distribution to the institution superintendent. The annual report or excerpts may only be made public with the approval of the minister.

Objectives of the Annual Report

The purpose of the annual report is to highlight the work of the CAB and to identify any areas of concern and/or support for the operation of the institution. The annual report should include observations, findings and recommendations in the following areas:

  • Advice to the minister on any aspect of the operation of the institution;
  • Any observations communicated to the superintendent regarding the operation of the institution;
  • Advice provided to the minister and superintendent regarding a community or citizens perspective on the operation of the institution;
  • Observations communicated to the minister and superintendent, regarding the treatment of inmates in the care of the institution;
  • Observations on the state of the institution and the administration of the facility; and
  • The establishment of cooperative and supportive relationships with the superintendent, managers and staff of the institution.

Objectives and Goals

  • To bring a community perspective to EMDC
  • To encourage and promote best practices in Corrections at the EMDC
  • To build professional relationships with EMDC staff and inmates
  • To support initiatives to build community support for EMDC
  • To recruit members to the CAB
  • To build a strong understanding of Corrections policy and procedures both locally and provincially
  • To be current with facility, programming and staff changes at EMDC

Community Advisory Board Members

Chair: Rebecca Howse, appointed December 16, 2013, term December 15, 2018

Board Members:

John Innes (resigned), appointed December 16, 2013, 2014, term December 15, 2016
Janet McEwen, appointed December 16, 2013, 2014, term December 15, 2016
Ian Peer, appointed December 16, 2013, 2014, term December 15, 2016
Betty Anne Stoney-Shankar, appointed December 16, 2013, 2014, term December 15, 2016
Debbie Turnbull, appointed December 16, 2013, 2014, term December 15, 2016


Overview of CAB Activities for 2015

Number of CAB Meetings: 10

Summary

  • The EMDC CAB met 9 times in the boardroom of the institution and 1 time off-site.
  • A CAB member attended the Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) ‘Plans and Progress’ consultation in January 2015.
  • All CAB members attended the EMDC staff presentation on final architectural and construction plans for the RIC held over the lunch hours of April 28-29, 2015.
  • The Chair attended a meeting of the Provincial Health & Safety Committee at which plans for the ‘Direct Observation’ project were presented. ‘Direct Observation’ is a model which provides continuous observation of inmates from a removed, designated area. The design is "indirect" in that the officer's station is separated from the inmate living area.
  • All CAB members received boxes of individualized business cards containing contact information: EMDC dedicated phone line and dedicated email addresses.
  • All CAB members attended the Volunteer Appreciation banquet in June 2015 at which they were introduced and the Chair addressed attendees on the function of the CAB.
  • The Superintendent or a Deputy Superintendent attended and reported at each CAB meeting.
  • The Chair and 1 other CAB member attended the CAB Conference in Ottawa in October 2015.

Number of Site Visits: 8

Summary

Site visits typically made by groups of 2-4 CAB members investigated the following units, programs or concerns:

CAB site visits
Date Duration Topic
February 16 4 hours evacuation plans, intake process, Segregation
April 30 2 hours female unit
May 27 2 hours kitchen
July 14 3 hours Arrivals & Departures Unit
August 18 1.5 hours ‘front door’ admitting
October 8 2 hours inmate on inmate assaults
December 4 0.5 hours female unit
December 17 1 hour parking lot observation-OPSEU information picket











Monthly Reports provided to the CAB: 10

Number of Reports/Concerns that Required Action: 14

Number of Concerns Directed to the Superintendent: 5

Summary

  1. Build and track the volunteer program to enhance community engagement and provide preparation for inmate returns to the community.
  2. Continue to update and enforce staff adherence to appropriate policies/procedures and standing orders.
  3. Continue to improve EMDC’s reputation in the community by supporting staff in uniform participating in local fundraising events.
  4. Stabilize senior management and provide communications training to senior managers.
  5. Track and report on staff commitment to mandatory cultural sensitivity training designed to improve relationships with and programming for all inmates, particularly Indigenous offenders.

Number of Concerns Directed to the Minister: 9

Summary

  1. Highlight the obvious advantages of a stabilized senior management team at EMDC.
  2. Following from the Deputy Minister’s communicated support, create and implement an inmate physical activity program.
  3. Explore enhanced opportunities to celebrate volunteer activities at EMDC.
  4. Continue to explore the use of communication technologies to enhance video remand.
  5. Continue to build better relationships with media through enhanced communication strategy.
  6. Evaluate findings of the ‘Direct Observation’ pilot and, if it is found to be successful, move rapidly to convert all ranges to a ‘Direct Observation’ platform.
  7. Continue to reduce the number of inmate lockdowns.
  8. Implement positive recommendations from MCSCS’ review of Segregation practices, once the review is completed.
  9. Initiate and implement staff recognition ceremonies.

Presentations and Training

Number of Presentations made to the CAB: 6

Summary

  1. Overview of revisions to inmate health care by the Health Care Coordinator
  2. Staff training update by Institution Staff Training Manager
  3. Administrative procedures by Office Manager
  4. Intermittent Community Work Program by Coordinator of Intermittent Community Work Program
  5. Inmate programming by Deputy Superintendent Programs
  6. Mandatory training for all staff and departments by Staff Services Manager.

Number of Training Sessions Completed: 1

Summary

The CAB Chair, a CAB member and a Deputy Superintendent from EMDC attended the CAB Conference in Ottawa on October 28, 2015 and participated fully in the workshops provided to educate and update CAB members from all institutions.

Observations

The Operation of the Institution

  1. The CAB is encouraged by the Deputy Minister’s letter of October 27, 2015 which indicates that the ‘ministry is supportive of physical activity for inmates’. CAB members await the findings of the EMDC feasibility study of the staffing and resources required for expanded physical activities for inmates in the gym and the yard.
  2. The removal of the one-way glass at the public sign-in area will enhance relationships with the public there to visit, professionals arriving to conduct their business, and volunteers arriving to engage in programming for inmates. It will more closely reflect other institutions in which the interaction is face-to-face with staff behind the glass. Some individuals attending may require more than verbal commands through a speaker. Observation of the staff member speaking provides significant communication cues such as gestures and facial expression. First time visitors especially require direction to follow such important visitor requirements such as the stowing of personal items in lockers, movement through the metal detector, placement of items on the scanner, signing the correct log, etc.
  3. An increase in the number of video suites available will reduce the number of inmates required to attend court in person and, therefore, move daily in and out of the institution. The CAB again encourages the ministry to pursue current technology practices that are more cost effective than the current video suite technology.
  4. The CAB looks forward to the recommendations that will come from the review of an Admitting and Discharge Unit where errant releases and ongoing delays have occurred. It is important for the CAB to recognize the efforts of Superintendent Wilson who worked with other justice partners to resolve longstanding problems with inmates not arriving at London court in a timely manner. This was accomplished with no interruption to other courts. The timeliness of the arrivals to court continued through the disruptions associated with contract negotiations.
  5. Corporate Healthcare has implemented policies and procedures that have improved health care delivery at EMDC
  6. A great deal of effort is ongoing to ensure that best practices are being exercised by healthcare staff. Effective monitoring will be critical to ensure adherence to appropriate policy and procedures, going forward.

Institution Impact on the Community

  1. The CAB was pleased to participate in the Volunteer Recognition banquet at EMDC in June 2015. The CAB looks forward to further opportunities to inform the community about the number and extent of volunteer activities at EMDC through media exposure.
  2. Data on the number of volunteers, activities in which they are engaged with inmates, and the number of inmate participants should be gathered and reported to enhance community engagement and prepare inmates for return to the community.
  3. Currently there is no recognition of staff long service, change of command, or meritorious service at EMDC. The CAB sees the introduction of a staff recognition program as an opportunity to celebrate individual staff and EMDC as a positive workplace within the broader community.

Administration of the Institution

  1. The CAB wishes to highlight the positive work of the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendents and management team. Further recruitment and stabilization at the Deputy Superintendent level will consolidate these positive outcomes.
  2. Communications, both internal and external, continue to require updating to meet current standards of practice outside Corrections. There appears to be no appetite within MCSCS to change its Communications strategy.
  3. The CAB is encouraged to see construction of the RIC on schedule. Staff hiring, transfers and training to be ready for the arrival of inmates in spring 2016 are required.
  4. The pilot project implementation of Direct Observation in one unit, if successful, will encourage the roll-out of Direct Observation across all units.
  5. The minister’s letter of January 21, 2016 states a commitment to the recruitment, hiring and training of staff to address staff shortages.
  6. The CAB supports the minister’s initiative in rolling out enhanced mental health training for staff and its comprehensive review of segregation (SEG) practices.
  7. Currently there is no data on mandatory cultural sensitivity training for EMDC staff.
  8. The Corporate Healthcare initiatives in progress must be supported in order to continue needed improvements to inmate healthcare.

The Treatment of Inmates

  1. Lockdowns continue to be the most frequently used strategy to address staff shortages. Staff shortages leading up to the resolution of bargaining and the slow return to regular operations after the settlement was reached, which resulted in continued lockdowns, seemed purposely intended to incite inmates. The CAB commends inmates who demonstrated restraint during these times and acknowledges staff who worked through this time and kept the institution in order, as much as possible, given the circumstances.
  2. Currently there is no incentive for inmates to exhibit ‘good behaviour’, only punishment such as lockdowns or SEG for ‘bad behaviour’.
  3. The CAB anticipates a reduction in the current use of SEG at EMDC as a result of the MCSCS review and recommendations.
  4. To implement best practices for inmate health care requires ongoing Correctional Officer (CO) capacity building and monitoring by Corporate Healthcare.

Summary of Concerns and Recommendations

  1. Implement an enhanced inmate physical activities program.
  2. Seek opportunities to promote transparency of operations within the institution.
  3. Work toward using current technologies which will help to increase the number of inmates who can appear in court via video link and, therefore, reduce the admitting and discharge of inmates for court purposes.
  4. Support the Corporate Healthcare Manager’s initiatives to promote enhanced inmate health care by monitoring and auditing the stability of these initiatives.
  5. Collect and communicate data on volunteer numbers and activities at EMDC.
  6. Design and implement a staff recognition program to celebrate long service, the change of command, and meritorious service of EMDC employees.
  7. Research and implement opportunities to invite the media to be present for staff recognition events.
  8. Continue to stabilize the Senior Management team.
  9. Review and update MCSCS Communications strategy to reflect current practices outside Corrections.
  10. Use the RIC as a model for further improvements to the physical plant and programming at EMDC.
  11. Roll out ‘Direct Observation’ in all units at EMDC with the potential to move toward Direct Supervision across the institution.
  12. Continue to increase staffing and staff training to reduce lockdowns.
  13. Based on the findings of the SEG review, move to reduced use of SEG.
  14. Ensure that all staff are applying new knowledge and practices learned in mandatory cultural sensitivity training.

Appendix

n/a


Submitted April 7, 2016

_____________________________________
Rebecca Howse, Chair


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May 31, 2016

Ms. Rebecca Howse
Community Advisory Board Chair
Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Dear Ms. Howse:

Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).

We appreciate the time the CAB has taken to put together such a comprehensive list of recommendations for the ministry based on your observations at the institution over the last year.

I have reviewed your report and appreciate the thoughtful comments you have made about EMDC. Associate Deputy Minister Marg Welch will be responding in detail to all of the 14 meaningful recommendations you have made.  

We are grateful to have such a dedicated group of volunteers that work diligently to help us improve operations and transparency in our institutions. The ministry values your input and will be working on addressing the recommendations from the Annual Report. I look forward to working with the CABs in the coming year, moving this innovative program forward and continuing to engage local communities to a greater degree. Please accept my sincere thanks for your work in this critical role and producing a valuable annual report.

Sincerely,
Yasir Naqvi
Minister

c: Ms. Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister of Correctional Services


ADM_Corr letterhead.png

August 25, 2016

Ms. Rebecca Howse
Community Advisory Board Chair
Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Dear Ms. Howse:

Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC). The Annual Report has been reviewed by ministry staff and we are already working on the recommendations outlined in your report.

As the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in his acknowledgement letter to you, the ministry is committed to implementing your recommendations and to the ongoing development of this innovative CAB program.

The transformation of Ontario’s correctional system is a top priority. Work is underway to further address capacity pressures, develop additional supports for inmates with mental illness, reform the bail and remand system, and review our segregation policies. We will continue to work with all our correctional partners as we move forward with our mandate to transform our correctional system to develop effective and lasting improvements.

I am pleased to provide the following responses and next steps for the recommendations put forward in the EMDC Annual Report.

Recommendation 1: Implement an enhanced inmate physical activities program.

One of the most important ways the ministry helps the broader community is through the rehabilitation of inmates. Meeting the physical needs of offenders while in custody can help promote rehabilitation.

The ministry continues to support physical activity programs for offenders at EMDC. A feasibility study for opening the gymnasium to allow for an enhanced physical activity program has been prepared and is being reviewed by the Institutional Services, Western Regional Office.

Recommendation 2: Seek opportunities to promote transparency of operations within the institution.

The Ontario Public Service has been developing Ontario’s Open Government Initiative. This initiative is about creating a more open and transparent government for the people of Ontario. Over 500 data sets have already been published. The ministry is currently exploring opportunities for Correctional Services to post datasets online. However, due to the nature of the data, a rigorous review is required to ensure there are no potential security risks associated with public release of any correctional data.

Beyond information sharing, the ministry also supports physical and structural changes that will support transparency in institutions where it does not pose any risk to the safety and security of the institution, its staff or the public. By installing new glass at the front entrance of the institution, the public can see who they are interacting with in the front administration area. This project was completed in June 2016.

Recommendation 3: Work toward using current technologies which will help to increase the number of inmates who can appear in court via video link and, therefore, reduce the admitting and discharge of inmates for court purposes.

EMDC currently utilizes video remand technology on a daily basis. There are currently two video suites in operation. During construction of the current Direct Observation stations at EMDC, a new video remand suite will be installed to increase the number of inmates utilizing video technology to participate in court proceedings.

Recommendation 4: Support the Corporate Health Care Manager’s initiatives to promote enhanced inmate health care by monitoring and auditing the stability of these initiatives.

The ministry has policies and procedures in place for the delivery of health care services to ensure inmates receive health assessments during their period of incarceration.

EMDC received considerable support from Corporate Health Care over the last year while recruitment for a new Health Care Manager was ongoing. Corporate Health Care provided temporary management services and completed a Health Care review to improve health care delivery at EMDC. The Corporate Health Care manager implemented several health care process improvements that continue to be supported by the Senior Administration at EMDC including a new system for booking appointments for the primary care physician, individual diabetic kits for inmates and a treatment checklist to improve inmate care among others.

A new Health Care Manager was recruited and began work in June. In order to maintain stability of the new processes implemented by the temporary manager from the corporate office, the new manager will receive ongoing mentoring from the Corporate Health Care team. In addition to this, an Assistant Health Care Manager position will be created to assist in the maintenance of current initiatives and to support ongoing improvements, compliance and health care delivery in the institution.

The delivery of health care services is being examined as part of the ministry’s broader transformation initiative. We will be working very closely with our health care partners and stakeholders to look at how we can make lasting and meaningful improvements in this area across the province.

Recommendation 5: Collect and communicate data on volunteer numbers and activities at EMDC.

EMDC offers a monthly Volunteer Newsletter which provides volunteer profiles and the number and type of volunteer programming taking place at the institution each month.

The number of active volunteers is also reported on an annual basis by the Volunteer Coordinator. The collection of this information coincides with Volunteer Appreciation Week held in April of each year where appreciation letters are sent to all the volunteers in the province.

Recommendation 6: Design and implement a staff recognition program to celebrate long service, the change of command, and meritorious service of EMDC employees.

This year Bill 116, the Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week Act, was approved by Ontario MPPs and will become law after Royal Assent. The Act marks the first week of May as Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week and will officially recognize the hard work of Ontario's correctional staff.

There are also several ministry and OPS-wide recognition programs that EMDC may use to recognize employees including the ministry’s Ovation Awards, which celebrates the exceptional accomplishments of all staff and the Amethyst Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievements by all Public Servants.  

Also, the Ontario Public Service’s Quarter Century Club recognizes and honours long-term commitment, excellence and quality service among current employees and retirees of Ontario’s public service. This program begins to honour employees with 20 years of service or more.

There is also the Correctional Services Awards Program, which was revamped this year. This program includes three types of awards: The Deputy Minister’s Viola Desmond Inclusion Award, the Minister’s Award for Correctional Achievement and the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Correctional Services.

At EMDC, informal long-service recognition is held locally. The ministry also participates in the Corrections Exemplary Services Medals administered by the Governor General of Canada. The medals honour management-nominated correctional service employees who have exemplary performance and 20 years or more of working in corrections and 10 years directly working with inmates.

CAB members will be provided with information via e-mail from superintendents on correctional services award programs. CAB members are encouraged to attend these local events to see first-hand the types of awards and recognition EMDC employees are receiving on an annual basis.

Recommendation 7: Research and implement opportunities to invite the media to be present for staff recognition events.

The ministry’s Communications Branch is supportive of media attending events which create good news stories about corrections. EMDC will discuss with staff the possibility of having media attend staff recognition events. If staff are comfortable with having media in attendance, EMDC will work with the communications branch to develop a media plan to invite local media to these events.

Recommendation 8: Continue to stabilize the Senior Management Team.

Over the past year, EMDC has established and sustained a consistent senior management team. The senior management team at the institution is committed to maintaining operations at current levels to ensure effective operation of the institution as well as ensuring the safety and security of the staff, management, offenders, volunteers and visitors at EMDC.

Recommendation 9: Review and update MCSCS Communications Strategy to reflect current practices outside corrections.

The ministry’s Communication Branch is developing a communication strategy that will look to raise the profile of CABs internally and externally. CAB pamphlets, posters and a banner are currently being developed in consultation with CAB chairs.

An update on proposed communications activities will be provided at the CAB annual conference in the fall of 2016.

Recommendation 10: Use the Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) as a model for further improvements to the physical plant and programming at EMDC.

EMDC is a maximum security facility that opened in 1977 with an original operational capacity of 190. Over the years, several infrastructure projects have taken place to expand the operational capacity which is now 452 beds. All of the units at EMDC are currently Indirect Supervision. The Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) has been built with Direct Supervision in mind and includes state-of-the-art technology and will have 112 beds, mostly in a dorm setting.

EMDC will take into consideration some of the physical structures and programming at the RIC when developing future infrastructure or programming initiatives.

Recommendation 11: Roll out ‘Direct Observation’ in all units at EMDC with the potential to move toward Direct Supervision across the institution.

EMDC is in the process of implementing a Direct Observation pilot which includes changes to existing infrastructure to improve sight lines into units and assist with observation of inmates.

Direct Supervision has been proven to be a safe and effective model to manage our inmates. Direct Supervision provides a better environment for both staff and inmates, which promotes rehabilitation and improves social conditions in the units. As noted in last year’s response to the CAB, EMDC cannot accommodate a true Direct Supervision model due to its structural design.

The Direct Observation pilot project will receive ongoing monitoring and will be assessed for effectiveness. The roll-out of additional Direct Observation stations will be based on the evaluation of the pilot.

Recommendation 12: Continue to increase staffing and staff training to reduce lockdowns.

The ministry recognizes that many institutions across the province require additional staff and we have been working to recruit new correctional officers and provide them with training. Lockdowns occur for a variety of reasons, including staffing shortages which can result from a combination of leaves (vacation, sick or other) as well as having a reduced number of available staff.

Since 2013, 1001 new correctional officers have been deployed to facilities across the province. Hiring remains a priority, which is why over three years, we are hiring 2,000 new correctional officers.

At EMDC, 36 new correctional officers and two new sergeants have been hired since January 2015, which has reduced the number of lockdowns at the facility. Locally, EMDC has been considering longer periods of unlock during normal operations when looking at schedule changes and has also been working on a strategy to reduce impacts to inmates and institutional operations where lockdowns are necessary.

Recommendation 13: Based on the findings of the Segregation (SEG) review, move to reduced use of SEG.

The ministry is reviewing how segregation (SEG) is utilized across the provincial correctional system. 

Segregation is never used lightly. Segregation can be emotionally and mentally distressing. Individuals who suffer from mental illness are particularly vulnerable. The ministry’s goal is to use segregation only as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. 

The ministry is consulting with mental health professionals, staff, the Ombudsman of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders to see how we might better regulate segregation in our facilities. The ministry is also asking members of the public, as well as those with lived experience in Ontario adult correctional facilities, to provide feedback to help inform the review.

At EMDC, a pilot project since February 2016 has seen one dedicated sergeant assigned to the segregation unit. The preliminary findings of this project indicate that the single sergeant model has been effective in managing segregation at EMDC. The pilot project is expected to run until September 2016, when a final assessment of the project will be completed.

Recommendation 14: Ensure that all staff are applying new knowledge and practices learned in mandatory cultural sensitivity training.

A working group was established in early 2016 to develop Indigenous Awareness Training for staff in response to the 2014 CAB Annual Report. In June 2016, two correctional officers at EMDC were trained by the working group members to be the facilitators for the Indigenous Awareness Training for staff. The two facilitators from EMDC will complete additional facilitator training from the Ontario Correctional Services College to become certified to deliver the program at the institution. The training will commence in fall 2016 once the trainers have been certified.

In conclusion, I appreciate the CAB highlighting in its Annual Report the many EMDC success stories, such as the ongoing support of staff to ensure best practices in the health care unit are maintained, the CAB’s participation in the annual volunteer recognition banquet and the acknowledgment of the positive work coming out of the senior management team at the institution.

Thank you for all of the hard work that went into the development of your recommendations for the ministry. As volunteer members of the Community Advisory Board, you have gone above and beyond to provide meaningful feedback on the operations at EMDC.

Please be assured that the ministry values your input and recommendations. This ministry will be working throughout the rest of the year to address as many of your recommendations as possible. I am looking forward to your ongoing support as we move forward with this very important work.

Sincerely,
Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister, Correctional Services