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Investigation delays deepen crisis in corrections

MISSISSAUGA – Correctional officers from Local 5112 (Toronto South Detention Centre) of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) rallied outside the Mississauga office of the Correctional Services Oversight and Investigation Unit (CSOI) Tuesday. They were denouncing the deplorable length of time the CSOI takes to investigate allegations of correctional officer misconduct.

Investigations under Section 22 of the Ministry of Correctional Services Act are triggered following incidents between staff and inmates that are considered significant contraventions of directives, policies, procedures, and standards of professional conduct.

Section 22 allows for a period of up to two years to complete investigations, explained Mark Manna, president of Local 5112. “The vast majority of the incidents are relatively straightforward. There’s absolutely no reason why investigators need two years to carry out a thorough investigation.

“During this time, the correctional officers in question are under virtual house arrest,” Manna added. “Stress and anxiety build and take a terrible toll on the officer and their family. In effect, they are punished – whether guilty or innocent – before any finding is made.”

Monte Vieselmeyer, chair of the Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) for Correctional Services, noted that suspended officers are denied the right to legal counsel or even a presumption of innocence. “Section 22 denies basic rights to correctional officers that every other citizen enjoys. It’s profoundly unjust and inherently punitive, and requires urgent and extensive revision.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the union is looking at “any and all legal remedies available” and that the glacial pace of investigations at TSDC will be at the top of his agenda at an upcoming meeting with Marie-France Lalonde, recently appointed Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

“The source of this problem is inside the ministry, inside the CSOI, and the minister has a responsibility to deal with it,” he said. “Suspending scores of officers for indeterminate periods of time is not solving the crisis in corrections, it’s making it worse.”

For more information: Mark Manna, President, Local 5112, 647-808-3658; Monte Vieselmeyer, 705-627-1942; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-193

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(l to r) Charles Coutu, Arsalan Munir, Eric Martyn, Mark Manna, James Flanagan, John Hastie, Jacob Balcerzyk, (kneeling) Gord Cobb

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Jackie, James, and Hudson Flannagan

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(l to r) Region 5 RVP Myles Magner, Mark Manna, Roman Zurylo, Jacob Balcerzyk, Michael Matchuk, Charles Coutu

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(l to r) Ron Johnson, Kingsley Kwok, Charles Coutu

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Correctional officers rally in front of the Mississauga regional office of the CSOI.