Pubdate: Mon, 17 Oct 2005
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


A former guard at the Toronto (Don) Jail who was sentenced last week for 
smuggling drugs to inmates is one of five employees caught bringing in 
contraband since 2000, according to a statement entered into evidence.

The statement by Jim Aspiotis, the jail's security manager, provides an 
overview of the prevalence of contraband -- "including but not limited to 
weapons and controlled substances" -- at the jail.

In an average month, corrections officers seize about 10 items of "serious" 
contraband from inmates, Aspiotis wrote in a three-page document submitted 
to the Ontario Court of Justice. In addition, there is a reported assault 
every other day at the jail, many involving weapons that are both 
"commercially" and inmate-produced.

Narcotics in the institution are also "fairly accessible to most inmates," 
but at black market prices because of the high demand and limited supply, 
he wrote. "Through discussions with inmates and interception of written 
communications, I know that the price of narcotics in the Don jail is, on 
average, at least 10 times the price on the street."

That makes it "very tempting" for employees to smuggle in drugs, he 
concluded, noting that five employees had been caught since 2000. A 
preliminary hearing for another jail guard is set to start later this year.

"It is very difficult to interdict smuggling by employees. They occupy 
positions of trust and therefore are not subject to search of their person 
and of their bags as they enter the institution," Aspiotis wrote. "Moreover 
the direct daily contact between inmates and employees gives inmates the 
opportunity to recruit staff members to smuggle. ... Once this process 
begins it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the staff members 
to cease these activities as the inmates who they are supplying will 
threaten to report their actions."

The statement doesn't mention it, but lawyers have also been caught for 
smuggling drugs into the jail.

On Friday, Justice Peter Harris convicted Andrew Bell, 39, who worked at 
the Don for 15 years, for breach of trust by a public official, and 
sentenced him to three years in jail less presentence custody, and one year 
of probation.

The sentence covers convictions in August on four counts of possession of 
marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and two counts of possession of 
cocaine and hash for the purpose of trafficking. Bell was also found guilty 
of two counts of possession of a weapon.

Bell was arrested in February after a drug-sniffing dog discovered two 
straight razors, 286 grams of marijuana, 112 grams of hashish and 3.23 
grams of crack cocaine in a locker at the jail.

"Andrew Bell is a tragic figure who has ruined his career, his standing in 
his community, and in many ways, his future," Harris wrote in his judgment. 
"Given his age, clean record and positive employment history, I cannot at 
this juncture entirely lose sight of the principle of rehabilitation. I 
must not impose a sentence that would be crushing and cause Mr. Bell to 
lose hope for his future."

Harris calculated the presentence custody as 16 months. That means Bell 
will serve another 20 months, federal Crown Attorney Jason Wakely said. 
Wakely was looking for a penitentiary sentence in the four-to five-year range.
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