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The Cases of Andy Bruce and Jake Quiring

Andy Bruce was confined in SCU on his transfer from Prince Albert pending the resolution of criminal charges arising from his taking of hostages in Prince Albert.51 Mr Cernetic stated that Bruce was placed in dissociation because he was very frustrated, and it was felt that if he was released into the population while the court case was pending, he might try to escape. However, as was brought out in Mr Cernetic's cross-examination, there is a dubious logic to this reasoning. Keeping Bruce in SCU undoubtedly made it more difficult for him to communicate with his lawyers, a fact which Bruce testified increased rather than alleviated his frustration.

It would seem to follow, however, from Mr Cernetic's stated reasons for keeping Bruce in dissociation that it was not the nature of the charges outstanding against a prisoner that kept him in dissociation but rather his attitude toward those charges. We can test the consistency of that rationale. At the same time that Bruce was detained in SCU,Jake Quiring, who had also been involved in the Prince Albert hostage-taking, was also kept in dissociation. Yet Mr Cernetic conceded that there was no evidence of frustration on the part of Quiring, and Mr Leech testified that Quiring, while in SCU, was 'above average' in his behaviour. It would seem to follow that the reasons Mr Cernetic gave for keeping Bruce in SCU would have required Quiring's release. Quiring was not released. The unprincipled nature of Quiring's detention was compounded by the fact that even after the disposition of his charges he was still not released. More than one month after that disposition, he was finally permitted to come back into the population.

Although the prison officials had cited pending charges as the reason for retaining Oag, Bruce, Quiring, Cochrane, and at times McCann in SCU, the plaintiffs gave evidence and it was admitted by Mr Leech that other prisoners with charges of the most serious nature pending against them had been released from SCU into the population before the final disposition of their cases. During the period the plaintiffs were in SCU, two prisoners who were facing charges of escape from lawful custody, possession of dangerous weapons, and attempted murder arising from a shoot-out with sheriff's officers were dissociated for only part of the time prior to their trial. These men were facing charges far more serious than those against Cochrane, Oag, or McCann and as serious as those against Quiring and Bruce, yet they were not subjected to the same treatment as the plaintiffs. No satisfactory explanation was given by Mr Cernetic or Mr Leech of the inconsistency in the application of the rationale of 'dissociation pending outstanding charges.'52

Like the process and rationale of placement in and release from solitary confinement, the security regime under which prisoners live while in solitary is unprincipled and inconsistent. Jack McCann gave evidence that while Officer Mangleson was in charge of SCU he had allowed prisoners extended exercise periods. The officer's practice was to permit prisoners to exercise both in the morning and in the afternoon if they so desired. Some prisoners chose to sleep in the morning and exercise in the afternoon. When Officers Carrier and Berrie took command, they reduced the exercise period to half an hour without any prior notice or explanation. On the first morning of the unannounced new regime several of the prisoners chose to sleep in and wait for the afternoon exercise. However, Officers Carrier and Berrie refused to let anyone exercise in the afternoon, saying that everyone had been given the half-hour opportunity in the morning. When the prisoners protested by shouting and banging on their cell doors, several of them were gassed.

George Brown, a witness called by the plaintiffs, gave evidence that while he was in SCU he asked for a special razor to shave, since he had a skin condition and had received a special permit from the prison doctor to use a Trak II razor rather than the normal razor issued in SCU. Because he had not been provided with the special razor he had not shaved and had grown a beard. The officer in charge of SCU, citing a rule that prisoners were not allowed to have beards, ordered Brown to shave with a normal razor. When he refused, Brown was handcuffed, dragged out of his cell, and laid on a table in the central control area where, with six officers holding him, he was forcibly shaved. In the process he suffered severe cuts on his throat, causing profuse bleeding. Charges of assault were laid against the officers concerned, and they were convicted of those charges in provincial court.53

At the very time when George Brown was being ordered to shave, at the very time when he was strapped to the table and a razor taken to his face, SCU prisoners McCann, Miller, and McCaulley were wearing full beards.54 McCann gave evidence that he had never been given an order to shave prior to the Brown incident, and Miller was still wearing a beard when he gave his evidence.55

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