Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2014
Source: Ottawa South News (CN ON)
Contact:  2014 Metroland
Authors: Brier Dodge and Jennifer McIntosh


Jail Break: A four-part series about recidivism in Ontario

Canada's jails are bursting at the seams. Federal and provincial 
correctional facilities are struggling to meet the rising intake of 
inmates, the result of federal government tough-on-crime legislation. 
A Metroland East special report shows rehabilitation and treatment 
programs have taken a backseat to the push for prison expansion. In 
the first of a four-part series, we look at how prisoners are 
struggling to find employment and addiction-treatment support.

The first time Dan Parlow went to jail, he was 16 years old.

"I was a boy, going to a man's prison," said Parlow, who was 
convicted of robbery and served time at the Guelph Correctional Institute.

Instead of being rehabilitated, Parlow said he felt like he was sent 
to a university of crime.

Over the last three decades, Parlow, 49, has served time at four 
federal penitentiaries, provincial jails, and has stayed at several 
halfway houses.

"A lot of it was robbery or assault-related - some firearms stuff," he said.

But he said some of the circumstances in his early life led him down that path.

Parlow, originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said he grew up in a 
tumultuous home environment.

His father left when he was five years old, leaving the kids with his 
alcoholic mother.

Parlow said he was physically, emotionally and sexually abused both 
in the home and after he entered the foster-care system. He committed 
robbery at the age of 16 after leaving foster care and finding 
himself homeless.

"All these things were precursors to the life I would lead later," he said.

He started using substances to help him cope: first alcohol, and 
eventually heroin.

Once an offender enters the system, the first conviction will often 
echo through the rest of their life.

Parlow has been out of jail on his statutory release since July 2013 
- - his longest stretch of parole in a long time.

He currently lives at the Ottawa Mission and is participating in its 
Lifehouse drug-treatment program and is studying criminology at 
Carleton University.

The federal government's "tough-on-crime" legislation, which pushes 
mandatory minimum sentencing and stiffer punishments, doesn't help 
deal with the root issues of crime or why parolees re-offend, Parlow said.

"There's a moral panic going on," Parlow said. "Crime rates have been 
on the decline since the '60s, but there's still bottlenecking in the 
system and a real tough-on-crime attitude."

Offenders face large barriers in turning their lives around in prison 
due to a lack of programming - including drug and alcohol 
rehabilitation - in both jail and the community, said Parlow.

His experience isn't unique.

According to the annual federal prison ombudsman's 2011-12 report, 
almost two-thirds of federal offenders reported being under the 
influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed the crime for which 
they were incarcerated. Four out of five offenders come to jail with 
a history of substance abuse.

Parlow said inmates' reduced access to rehabilitative programs can be 
linked to overcrowding.


Over the past decade, Ontario prisons have seen a large increase in 
the number of inmates.

Federal penitentiaries, which take in prisoners serving sentences two 
years or longer, have seen incarcerated populations increase by 2,100 
inmates, or 16.5 per cent, from 2003 to 2013.

Meanwhile, provincial jails are experiencing explosive growth in the 
number of inmates remanded in custody, while awaiting trial or bail hearing.

On any given day in 2012-13, 25,208 people were detained in Canada's 
provincial and territorial jails according to Set up to Fail: Bail 
and the Revolving Door of Pre-trial Detention, a report released in 
July 2014 by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust.

More than half of those inmates were awaiting trial or a bail hearing.

Canada's remand rate has tripled over the past three decades - but 
this is not the result of a rise in the nation's crime rate, which 
has been falling for the past two decades.

Aaron Doyle, a criminology professor at Carleton University, has 
spent the past year studying overcrowding conditions at the 
Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

The centre has been overcrowded for years, with three and sometimes 
four inmates living in cells designed for one or two, he said.

"Two-thirds to three-quarters of the prisoners in the Ottawa-Carleton 
Detention Centre are on remand, which means they're just awaiting 
their day in court - they actually haven't been convicted of 
anything," said Doyle, a founding member of the Criminalization and 
Punishment Education Project, made up of faculty and students from 
Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.

Meanwhile, they're getting very little in the way of programming 
because of overcrowding, he said.

"Some of them are in and out of court 10 times and will spend months 
and over a year in there just waiting to get their case settled," said Doyle.

The project is planning to release a report about conditions at the 
Ottawa detention centre this fall.

At the federal level, Correctional Service Canada spends 
approximately three per cent of its $2.5-billion annual budget on 
core rehabilitative programs, such as anger management and programs 
for substance abuse and sexual offenders.

Federal inmates have access to a variety of substance-abuse programs, 
including coping strategies for offenders undergoing methadone 
treatment, and national substance-abuse programs. Most penitentiaries 
offer Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous groups, Veronique 
Rioux, a spokeswoman for Correctional Service Canada, said in an email.

"Overall research shows that offenders who complete CSC's 
substance-abuse programs are significantly less likely to return to 
custody with new offences and less likely to return with new violent 
offences," she said.

"Over the past five to 10 years, programs and services have not been 
reduced, but rather improved to ensure that they are continuously 
targeting the specific needs of inmates," she said.

Brent Ross, spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and 
Correctional Services, said $24 million is spent annually on 
skill-development and rehabilitation programs, which have reduced 
recidivism rates for the inmates who participate.

"These people talk a big game about these programs, but they don't 
work," said Jody Faucher, who is currently incarcerated at the 
Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre awaiting trial on fraud charges.

Faucher has a rap sheet "at least 11 pages long," and has faced 150 
charges - mostly fraud-related - throughout his life since he first 
landed in jail at the age of 15.

Faucher has been conning people for decades to pay for his cocaine 
addiction. Now, at the age of 44, he's decided to seek help to get 
himself clean and back on the right path.

Given a choice between an early release and probation or a lengthier 
commitment to a drug-treatment program, he said he would opt for treatment.

When he last appeared in court, Faucher said he asked to go to a 26 
week drug-treatment program. But his request was denied because a 
judge ruled Faucher wouldn't be sufficiently monitored and may return 
to criminal activities if given pay phone access, as he in the past 
has used phone scams to con jewellery stores out of thousands of dollars.

"I know I have a chance. I have a brain, I have a future," said 
Faucher. "I'm asking for help, I don't understand why I can't have help."

He's had periods of sobriety before, but he said his emotional 
struggles led him back to using drugs.

"I was strung out on cocaine, my son died, I got served with divorce 
papers," he said.

Faucher has been in and out of the Innes Road jail more times than he 
can count, but he said treatment programs are limited. Wait lists are 
long, and with every repeat visit he says he sees resources shrink 
and programs disappear. Sporadic Alcoholics Anonymous meetings do 
little, he said.

Because of his consistent reappearance at the jail, Faucher said he 
thinks the system has given up on him.

"I want to clear up my demons. The drugs, the criminal thinking, the 
death of my son," he said. "I think the chances are high I'll end up 
back here if I don't get help."

According to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and 
Correctional Services, 52 per cent of the province's current 61,303 
inmates, both in custody and under community supervision will 
re-offend within two years of being released.

Often inmates can continue to use while inside jail. The federal 
prisons ombudsman's report says the presence of homemade alcohol and 
illicit drugs in federal prisons are still a major safety and 
security challenge, despite the zero-tolerance stance taken by 
Correctional Service Canada.

The federal department's budget for substance-abuse programming fell 
from $11.6 million in 2011-12 to $9.6 million in 2012-13.


Critics say rehabilitation has taken a backseat to mandatory minimum 
sentencing and that the corrections system is doing less and less correcting.

Rebecca Jesseman, research and policy analyst for the Canadian Centre 
on Substance Abuse, said the majority of offenders are currently 
actively using or have a history of substance abuse. She said 
offenders often have complex needs regarding resources, but policy 
can fall victim to ideology.

"Not-for-profits that offer services are struggling for funding," 
Jesseman said. "Offenders with addictions issues are dealing with a 
double stigma. There's a fear of crime in our society and people 
still feel like substance abuse is a choice you make."

Jesseman said overcrowding in jails means dwindling programming space 
and an increased demand on staff.

"Mandatory minimums and stricter conditions on parole eligibility 
have an impact at all levels," she said.

Once offenders are released they need the tools to comply with their 
conditions, she said.

"There needs to be a formal period of treatment, not just setting a 
condition, that sets people up to fail," she said. "Giving people the 
tools they need and addressing the risk factors is important."

Private programs, such as those run by the Ottawa Mission, have 
emerged as some of the only options for rehabilitative programs and 
services following cuts to programs and services in jails.

"And all of this is happening while the prison population itself is 
growing," said Howard Sapers, the federal prisons ombudsman. "So it's 
a bit of a double-whammy."

Karen White-Jones, manager of addiction services at the Ottawa 
Mission, said many of their clients are former prison inmates.

The Mission currently operates a day program, a dry wing, a 
stabilization program and the Lifehouse residential program to help 
former offenders.

"We have a lot of former inmates in the day program, because of the 
lack of affordable housing. A lot of guys getting discharged from 
jail end up in the shelter and hear about the day program."

The day program is a drop-in clinic; the dry wing offers a place to 
stay with other people trying to get clean. The stabilization program 
offers detoxification treatment that typically lasts 30 days. The 
Lifehouse program, which Parlow is currently attending, is five 
months long and offers housing to help clients with reintegration.

"People leaving jails or prisons may have been abstinent or modified 
their use, but they haven't learned the skills to maintain that," 
White-Jones said.

And parolees are displaced, often fearful of how they'll function in 
the real world, she said.

"A lot of people who have been institutionalized long-term have real 
fear," White-Jones said. "They might be doing well on their addiction 
or anger management, but there's still a lot they don't know about 
day-to-day life."

White-Jones said every program at the Mission has a wait list.

"As soon as a bed empties, there's someone to fill it," she said.

The popularity of these programs isn't surprising to White-Jones, who 
said a lot of organizations are struggling to fill the need with 
limited resources.

Prison employment and education programs have also been underfunded 
and post-secondary education is next to impossible with no Internet 
access, according to many critics of federal corrections system.

In 2009, the federal government announced a plan to eliminate six 
prison farms, a program that offered employment and life skills.

CORCAN, a prison work program provided by Correctional Service 
Canada, employs inmates around the country in industrial-based jobs, 
but the positions are few and far between, said Sapers in his recent 
annual report.

"When I visit an institution, typically I'll see maybe half a dozen 
guys in the yard with a broom all sweeping the same area of the yard 
because it's the only employment that they have," Sapers said. "It's 
not very meaningful employment."

Without the proper treatment or programs, it's normal to see 
offenders cycle through the jail several times without receiving any 
rehabilitation programs, said Denis Collin, Ontario Public Service 
Employees Union local unit president for the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Collin has worked as a correctional officer for 13 years, including 
the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and the former Rideau 
Correctional Treatment Centre.

The treatment centre had programs, ranging from workshops to a working farm.

"You had all sorts of programs, where at least when the offender 
would be coming out and had served their time, you would give them 
hope and some sort of option or direction to have some options once 
they leave," he said. "And the word "corrections" is exactly that. 
It's meant to correct behaviour and meant to try and give people some 
resources to move their life forward."

With files from Blair Edwards and Erin McCracken


Part two explores the potential impact of impending funding cuts by 
the federal government to a volunteer-based program that has success



. $630 MILLION: The amount of money the federal government has 
earmarked to create 2,700 new federal jail cells by 2015 in response 
to overcrowding concerns.

. $2 MILLION: The amount cut from Correctional Service Canada's 
substance-abuse program for federal offenders from 2009-13.

. 80%: The number of offenders who arrive in jail with a history of 
substance abuse.

. 55%: The percentage of Ontario's incarcerated population who are 
legally innocent, who are detained in provincial or territorial jails 
awaiting trial or a bail hearing.

. 52%: The percentage of Ontario's 61,303 offenders who will commit 
another crime within the first two years of release according to 
Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

. 3%: The percentage of Correctional Service Canada's $2.5-billion 
budget spent on core rehabilitative programs for federal offenders 
such as violent-offender and substance-abuse programs.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom