I have been made aware of numerous complaints about Calgary Remand Centre staff and administration over the last week. None of it surprises me. The Centre is quite easily one of the worst remand centres in Canada in terms of how it treats its inmates, although it’s received little media attention compared to detention centres in Ontario. Most (if not all) of its inmates are awaiting trial or plea, and as such are presumed innocent – to the extent that our society presumes innocence before conviction (which is hardly if at all). It reminds me of a client who was beaten savagely off-camera there last year – he says it was by staff, and I absolutely believe him. I have approached media, and have received little interest so far in this story. I’ve decided to “publish” it myself on my blog. Names and dates are redacted. I have also provided more detailed complaints to the director of the Centre – I will publish his reply at the end of this post.
One client indicates the following:
My client is indigenous. He advises that he is only allowed nail clippers every other Sunday. He went last Sunday (July 5), between 12:30 to 1:00 PM to obtain nail clippers from staff. The mail slot was closed, so he waited 8-10 minutes by the seating area. He called “hello?” into the mail slot. The reply “can’t you see I’m fu**ing busy?” The staff member’s name may be “P”, although my client is not certain what his name is – apparently the guard refused to provide his name to my client, which is highly problematic on its own. My client said “do your job” and walked away. He then heard background noise, with the guard yelling at him “I’m not here to babysit you”. The guard then goes to my client, holding his pants up – suggesting aggression. The guard asks “which one’s your cell?” My client replies “cell _, why, you’re going to throw your authority around just for nail clippers?” The guard replies, “Get the f**k in your cell, you filthy, stinking savage.” The guard refused to repeat these words upon request. The guard added, “I don’t need my squad, I’ll beat the s**t out of you myself.” My client went back to his cell. The guard then stood at his door, continually berating, cursing and swearing at my client, clearly trying to provoke my client further. Other inmates clearly heard the exchange.
When getting off shift (after 3:30), my client told a new guard “I’m locked up because of your racist pig partner”. She said “what did you say?” He repeated his comment. She went running to the guard and told him what she had heard. He gets on the radio for this cell and said “what did you call me, you f**king piece of s**t?” He then continued swearing – all over the radio.
On Tuesday (July 7), between 8:30-9:00 AM, this guard and another guard told my client to “sit up. Why the f**k did you lie?” He replied, “what lie?” They continued swearing. Then the large guard says “you sit up and listen and talk to him”. Both were being extremely aggressive. My client said, “go ahead, beat me up”. He was then told he’s on lockup on Wednesday (for 24 hours).
My client also indicates that the medical office is trying to give him non-prescribed medication, and refuses to give him his proper medication.
Another client alleges the following: racially charged treatment and harassment by staff. His main concerns arise from events that took place Monday, July 6, 2020. He advises that his personal items were ruined during another “inspection” by staff. His drawings and photos of relatives were torn. He says his copies of the Quran were also stacked in a disrespectful fashion. The main instigator is a very senior guard named “S” (last name, I assume). My client was very upset about the destruction of his personal valuables. He kicked the door, at approximately 10:00 AM. S then stormed over (along with another guard), yelled expletives at my client, and pointed a large can of mace at him. S told him “you’ll die in here and I can make it happen.” My client has 17 other inmates who witnessed the above and signed a document to this effect.
Later, S retaliated by cancelling canteen privileges for the entire unit for the whole week. He also put the entire unit on lockdown for the rest of the day. Either of these actions could have resulted in serious repercussions for my client from other inmates. He also initiated institutional charges against my client. Medical attention for my client’s injured hand (because of punching the door after the guard had left) has also been sporadic.
I have also spoken to other inmates in Calgary remand Centre, and their complaints follow:
- One individual says he has served time in many correctional centres around the country, and he has never seen treatment as poor as in this Centre. The following conditions are noted:
- No access to rehabilitative programming at all;
- Inmates are locked up 20 hours a day at least – most of time;
- They are let out later than they’re supposed to be and locked back up earlier than scheduled;
- Their family visits are cancelled due to COVID, which makes no sense because visits are behind glass;
- They are often served food cold, because guards like to let food sit there (I’ve had this confirmed by at least one other inmate, who confirmed they had melted ice cream and cold chili for supper the other day);
- Guards are aggressive, threatening, capricious, vindictive and arbitrary to prisoners. The behaviour of the guards is often criminal; and
- Mistreatment of inmates is a regular occurrence.
- Another inmate confirmed previous instances of misconduct by S (the guard named in the previous complaint); in particular an incident from August 2019 where he forced several inmates to kneel and face the wall and threatened to spray them with mace if they looked to their side – all for no apparent reason. It appears there have been multiple complaints over the years about sadistic treatment regarding S, who is apparently a very high-ranking staff member at the Centre;
- Another inmate advises that when his relatives visit from the parking lot (inmates can see them one-way) and to deposit money in their account (which I understand can only be done in-person for some incomprehensible reason), staff tell them to go away and they are sworn at. They have been told that they are planning a breakout and will get sprayed with mace if they don’t leave immediately. I have personally confirmed these offensive allegations with the father of this inmate over the phone on July 9, 2020. I understand there is also a video of one of these incidents.
I have provided the above complaints in writing to the director of the Centre, R. Wilson, on July 10, 2020. His written reply indicated that my various allegations and queries are under internal review, and he will respond upon its completion.