It's not an original thought, I have to say. Louise Arbour came up with it after she looked at what happened at the Prison for Women in 1994, after a series of incidents resulted in her conducting an inquiry. She recommended that in situations where the treatment of a prisoner amounts to the mismanagement of a sentence, where basically a person ends up in segregation, accumulating more sentences, or being mistreated in the ways that Mr. Freeland has described, in fact that is not what the judge contemplated when he or she sentenced that person to prison. So wherever those kinds of allegations are made, there should be a mechanism that allows for individuals to go back to court to have their sentence reconsidered. Particularly where someone spent.... She was looking at a case where women had spent more than a year in segregation, for instance, and they had been stripped, shackled, and all the rest.
As to that kind of judicial oversight, in my view, I would support what Louise Arbour recommended. That would mean that a judge would also have the authority to reduce a sentence or to end a sentence and to recognize that the purpose of the sentence was not to continually punish someone. That's one. In terms of what I was thinking of, given that that has not been implemented to date, if this committee wants to recommend it, I think there would be at least some support in the Senate.
One other measure would be to have the kind of accountability where you could do some visits and actually see some of what happens and have a body responsible for routinely calling to account, not just through the Auditor General and the correctional investigator, but on all of these measures, whether it's security classifications, whether there's a robust grievance system, programming, releasing, or whether people are getting out at their dates.
Also discussed during the inquiry were things like people being rewarded for the positive things they do. A greater release rate for a warden would be a positive; greater access to programs, work releases, conditional releases, section 81 agreement, and section 84 agreements would be mechanisms whereby you register someone's success as a correctional officer or as a warden. I think the opposite is true. We have created a system that has become more and more risk averse. I say “we” because it's a collective issue. It has become more and more repressive. If you look at even the model that was supposed to be in place for the prisons for women, you'll see they were supposed to be community based. Initially they had very little program space because the presumption was that people would be going into the community for programs, and community groups would only come in and work with those individuals who could not enter the community because of their sentence.
For instance, if you went to Truro, you'd see it was one of the first ones built. The gymnasium is right at the front door because the presumption was that community members would be coming in and participating in events. That has virtually never happened. But this committee could go and meet there and hold a public meeting, for instance, because it has the gymnasium built in that way. All of the rest of them now are behind razor wire and eye-in-the-sky cameras and security devices, but that was not how it was intended.
Many of us recognize that part of the reason enhanced security happened was that, as the Arbour commission was happening they were moving people into those prisons when they weren't ready, and people did take off. They were all found. They were all returned. Some of them turned themselves in. Some just went home. There wasn't an increased risk to society, but that became a rationale for a continuous increase in security.