Transcript: The State of COVID-19 in Jails | Apr 14, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "The state of COVID-19 in prisons. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says PRISON IS NOT MEANT TO BE PLEASANT OR EVEN TERRIBLY COMFORTABLE. BUT IT'S ALSO NOT MEANT TO BE WHERE PRISONERS DIE FROM A HIGHLY INFECTIOUS GLOBAL PANDEMIC. JOINING US NOW ON WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING WITH COVID-19 AND PRISON POPULATIONS, BOTH OF THEM IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL WE WELCOME Abby DESHMAN, CANADIAN JUSTICE PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT THE CCLA, THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION...

Abby is in her thirties, with long straight chestnut hair in a ponytail. She's wearing a black sweater.

Steve continues AND, LEE CHAPELLE, PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN PRISON CONSULTING INC., AN ADVOCACY AND REFORM BASED FIRM...

Lee is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing a patterned blue shirt.

Steve continues AND WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE BOTH OF YOU BACK ON OUR PROGRAM HERE TONIGHT ON TVO. ABBY, THE CCLA JUST GOT INTO THE SPACE BY WRITING A REPORT ON THE CURRENT SITUATION. WHY DON'T WE START THERE AND TELL US WHY YOU WANTED TO WRITE THIS REPORT.

The caption changes to "Abby Deshman. Canadian Civil Liberties Association."
Then, it changes again to "Pandemic behind bars."

Abby says SURE. WE HAVE BEEN REALLY DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED IN CANADA SINCE THE ONSET OF THE PANDEMIC. WE KNOW CONGREGATE FACILITIES LIKE PRISONS AND HOMELESS SHELTERS, LIKE CRUISESHIPS EVEN, ARE REALLY AT VERY HIGH RISK FOR RAPID SPREAD OF COVID. SO WE HAVE BEEN FOCUSING ON PRISONS, WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO MITIGATE THE RISKS TO PEOPLE WHO ARE BEHIND BARS SINCE THE OUTSET. RIGHT NOW THOUGH, PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED IN CANADA ARE REALLY FACING A PERFECT STORM. WE HAVE NEW VARIANTS OF COVID THAT ARE MORE TRANSMISSIBLE, THAT ARE MANY INSTANCES MORE DEADLY, CAUSING MORE SEVERE ILLNESS IN NEW POPULATIONS. WE ALSO HAVE INCREASING INCARCERATION RATES. SO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC MANY JURISDICTIONS, VERY RAPIDLY DECREASED THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE BEHIND BARS. WE THINK THEY COULD HAVE DONE MORE, BUT THERE WAS AN IMPRESSIVE PUSH TO GET PEOPLE SUPERVISED IN THE COMMUNITY WHERE POSSIBLE. THAT HAS LET UP. WE HAVE SEEN MORE PEOPLE GOING TO JAIL, BEING INCARCERATED. IN FACT NOW, THAN AT THE HEIGHT OF THE FIRST WAVE. AND THEN THIRD, WE STILL HAVEN'T SEEN VACCINES HIT OUR PRISONS YET. THAT IS CHANGING. THEY ARE TARGETED FOR APRIL THE SECOND WAVE, SO WE'RE STARTING IN ON VACCINATING PRISONERS BUT WE HAVE NOT MADE SIGNIFICANT INROADS AS FAR AS WE KNOW, IN GETTING VACCINES INTO PEOPLE BEHIND BARS.

Steve says OKAY. GOOD. LEE, I WONDER IF YOU CAN PICK UP ON THAT AND TELL US FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT WHAT YOU THINK THIS PANDEMIC HAS REVEALED ABOUT THE STATE OF OUR PRISONS.

The caption changes to "Lee Chapelle. Canadian Prison Consulting."

Lee says OKAY, STEVE, YES. CERTAINLY. I AGREE ON THE EARLY END OF THIS, IN ONTARIO, I CAN SPEAK TO FOR THE MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CROWN, JUSTICE, DEFENCE COUNSEL THEY WERE ALL VERY ATTENTIVE AND WORKED TOGETHER TOWARDS LOWERING THE THRESHOLD FOR BAILS, LOWERING NUMBERS WITHIN OUR JAILS. I THINK IT'S A COMPASSION FATIGUE THAT HAS SET IN OVER THE COURSE OF THIS... FOR A LOT OF US, AND I DON'T THINK IT'S ANY DIFFERENT FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. MANY OF MY CLIENTS WHO HAVE BEEN ON BAIL FOR YEARS HAVE BEEN SENTENCED OVER THE LAST FOUR, FIVE, SIX MONTHS. TO MY DISMAY. I DON'T QUITE UNDERSTAND THE REASONING AND I BELIEVE CORRECTIONS IS INHERITING THE NUMBERS AND THEY ARE NOT THRILLED WITH IT EITHER.

Steve says WE HAVE GOT THESE NUMBERS HERE AND AT THE RISK OF INNONE DATING OUR VIEWERS AND LISTENERS WITH THEM THEY DO MAKE THE POINT THOUGH THAT YOU BOTH HAVE JUST MADE SO SHELDON I'LL ASK YOU TO BRING UP THE GRAPHIC AND FOR THOSE LISTENING ON PODCAST AND CAN'T READ THEM I'LL GO THROUGH THEM.


A slate appears on screen, with the title "Prisoner count changes during the pandemic."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
WE'RE COMPARING CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CANADA, FEDERAL LONGER SENTENCES, WITH ONTARIO, SO SHORTER SENTENCES, AND WE'LL GO BACK TO FEBRUARY 2020, SO PRE-PANDEMIC AND THIS IS THE PRISONER COUNT, OKAY. WE START AT ALMOST 14,000, DOWN A BIT, AS YOU GO TO JUNE 2020, SO ALMOST 14,000 TO 13,000 TO 12, 7 BY SEPTEMBER 2020 AND 12, 5 BY TODAY. SO THE NUMBERS ARE TRENDING IN THAT LOWER DIRECTION THAT ABBY REFERENCED BUT LOOK AT THE ONTARIO NUMBERS. WE START BACK IN FEBRUARY 2020 WITH 8200 PRISON POPULATION. GO TO JUNE 2020, 5800, BIG REDUCTION. SEPTEMBER, STARTING TO CREEP UP, 6300. AND TODAY, 7100. SO THE NUMBERS TOOK A DIP IN ONTARIO, A BIG DIP IN JUNE 2020 BUT THEY HAVE STARTED TO COME BACK UP. AND ABBY THAT'S WHERE I'LL ASK YOU TO PICK UP ON THE STORY BECAUSE YOU REFERENCED THAT IN YOUR FIRST ANSWER. WHY IS THAT HAPPENING?

Abby says YEAH IT'S A DIFFERENT SCENE FEDERALLY AND PROVINCIALLY. FEDERALLY WE HAVE SEEN THE SLOW DECREASE OF PEOPLE BEHIND BARS. THAT'S ACTUALLY NOT BECAUSE THE FEDERAL SYSTEM IS DOING A PARTICULARLY GOOD JOB AT RELEASING PEOPLE WHO ARE AT RISK FROM COVID OR RELEASING PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE AFFECTED SUPERVISED IN THE COMMUNITY BUT BECAUSE TRIALS HAVE STOPPED AND MANY TRIALS ARE NOT MOVING FORWARD SO THEY ARE NOT SEEING THE INFLOW INTO THE FEDERAL SYSTEM AND AT THE SAME TIME THEY ARE RELEASING PEOPLE AS REQUIRED BY LAW. SO, THAT'S THE NORMAL OUTFLOW FROM THE FEDERAL SYSTEM, AND WHAT'S DECREASING FEDERALLY IS PEOPLE AREN'T GETTING SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS OR MORE AT THE SAME RATE THEY WERE. PROVINCIALLY, WE DID SEE A SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION PRIMARILY IN THE PRE-TRIAL POPULATION, SO PEOPLE FACING CHARGES, WHO HAVE NOT YET BEEN FOUND GUILTY, THAT'S THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN OUR ONTARIO PROVINCIAL JAILS. AND WE HAVE SEEN A LET UP OF THE PRESSURE, THE INTENSITY, TO MAKE SURE THAT THOSE PRE-TRIAL POPULATIONS IN PARTICULAR ARE KEPT LOW. MOST OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE FACING NONVIOLENT CHARGES ALLEGATIONS. MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR JAILS AND DETENTION CENTRES HAVE NOT BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF ANYTHING. MOST PEOPLE IN PROVINCIAL JAILS, THEY ARE THERE FOR A MATTER OF DAYS, A WEEK, IT JUST MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE TO HAVE THIS POPULATION CHURNING THROUGH OUR JAILS, COMING INTO A VERY VULNERABLE CONGREGATE SETTING AND PUSHED BACK OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY TO WAIT FOR THEIR TRIAL. THAT'S A RECIPE FOR DEATH AND ILLNESS.

Steve says AND LEE, HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU WITH THE FACT THAT WHILE THE NUMBERS STARTED TO GO DOWN IN THE ONTARIO, IN OTHER WORDS, TWO YEARS LESS A DAY POPULATION, BUT NOW, THE NUMBERS ARE STARTING TO GO UP SIGNIFICANTLY?

Lee says WELL STEVE, I CAN CUT THROUGH THAT PRETTY QUICKLY. IT'S NOT SO MUCH PRE-TRIAL TIME AT THIS POINT. WE HAVE A GROWING RESERVOIR IN ONTARIO PROVINCIAL CORRECTIONS OF FEDERAL INMATES. WE HAVE NOT HAD TRANSFERS IN THE LARGEST REGION OF CANADA TO THE ONTARIO REGION RECEPTION CENTRE, ESSENTIALLY SINCE LAST NOVEMBER. SO I HAVE CLIENTS SENTENCED FIVE MONTHS THAT ARE STILL IN PROVINCIAL AWAITING TRANSFER TO FEDERAL. THE CENTRAL NORTH CORRECTIONAL CENTRE IS A RESERVOIR WITH A HUGE NUMBER OF FEDERAL INMATES, SO THEREFORE, THE FEDERAL INMATES, YOU KNOW, ON THE COUNTS THEY ARE SHOWING PROVINCIAL, THEY ARE FEDERAL. IT'S A MATTER OF THE COVID OUTBREAK THAT HAPPENED IN THE ASSESSMENT UNIT IN DECEMBER, FOLLOWED BY SUBSEQUENT ONTARIO OUTBREAKS AND JUST THIS REAL EFFORT TO TRY TO JUGGLE. HOW DO WE MOVE PEOPLE AND TRANSFER PEOPLE WITHOUT SPREADING AND CASE IN POINT. BUT THAT'S WHY THE NUMBERS ARE SKEWED.

Steve says LET'S JUST PUD THIS ON THE RECORD HERE BECAUSE WE DID RECEIVE A STATEMENT FROM CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA ON THIS, AND IT READS IN PART, WE'LL TAKE A LITTLE EXCERPT FROM IT BECAUSE IT WAS A LONG STATEMENT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Correctional Service Canada's response to COVID-19." The quote reads "CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA AND THE PAROLE BOARD OF CANADA CONTINUE TO PROCESS ELIGIBLE INMATES FOR RELEASE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW.
ON AVERAGE, 600 OFFENDERS ARE RELEASED A MONTH. THIS OCCURS THROUGH PAROLE, STATUTORY RELEASE OR EXPIRATION OF SENTENCE. SINCE THE BEGINNING OF MARCH 2020, THE FEDERAL CUSTODY POPULATION HAS DECLINED BY 1552 INMATES. THIS REDUCTION IS THE RESULT OF FEWER ADMISSIONS FROM THE PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES COUPLED WITH CONTINUED RELEASES INTO THE COMMUNITY. THIS DOWNWARD TREND IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE OVER THE COMING MONTHS."
Quoted from Correctional Service Canada, via email. April 13, 2021.

Steve says Lee, YOUR REACTION TO THAT?

Lee says I THINK THAT'S A FALSE READ. WE'RE NOT HAVING THE TRANSFERS AND I CAN SPEAK TO ONTARIO REGION WHICH IS OUR LARGEST POPULATED... 40 percent OF CANADA. WE HAVE A MASSIVE RESERVOIR OF FEDERAL INMATES THAT ARE BACKLOGGED AND LOG JAMMED THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO MAKE IT TO FEDERAL AND THEREFORE HAVE NOT STARTED THE CLASSIFICATION PROCESS, THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE. MOST ARE SERVING LOW-END SENTENCES AND I POINT TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR PUTING THESE SENTENCES THROUGH WHEN WE WERE GOING THROUGH THE SECOND AND THIRD WAVES FOR PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN ON BAILS. I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE THOUGHT PROCESS WHEN IT COMES TO NOT A N ADJOURNING UNTIL WE GET A BETTER HANDLE ON IT AND MAYBE THE FALL WITH THE VACCINES THAT WILL BE THERE. BUT I THINK FEDERAL, THERE IS ABOUT TO BE AN EXPLOSION OF NUMBERS FROM MY UNDERSTANDING AND INSIGHT, WHEN ONCE THEY ARE ABLE TO TRANSFER SAFELY, THE FEDERAL INMATES TO PROVINCIAL INSTITUTIONS WAITING FOR MONTHS UPON MONTHS TO GET IN.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says ABBY, DOES THIS SUGGEST THE WAY THE NUMBERS ARE GOING IN A DOWNWARD DIRECTION IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, DOES IT SUGGEST THAT WE ARE PUTTING PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR WHATEVER PERIOD OF TIME, WHO IN ESSENCE, ARE NOT VIOLENT, ARE NOT A THREAT TO THE GENERAL POPULATION, AND MAYBE DON'T NEED TO BE THERE? I DON'T KNOW. YOU TELL ME?

The caption changes to "Abby Deshman, @cancivlib."

Abby says THAT WAS THE CASE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. WE WERE PUTTING PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR NONVIOLENT CRIMES. PEOPLE WERE REGULARLY SENTENCED TO JAIL BECAUSE OF DRUG-RELATED OFFENCES, BECAUSE THEY HAD BREACHED THEIR BAIL CONDITIONS WHICH OFTEN ISN'T A CRIME IN AND OF ITSELF OUTSIDE OF THE BAIL SYSTEM. SO YES, WE REGULARLY DO THAT. AND WHAT'S REALLY DISAPPOINTING, FEDERALLY I'LL SPEAK TO THAT FIRST, IS THAT THIS IS BUSINESS AS USUAL, RIGHT. THOSE RELEASES FROM THE FEDERAL SYSTEM, THAT'S THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT WOULD BE THERE IN THE NORMAL COURSE OF THINGS IF NOT FOR THE PANDEMIC. WE HAVE SEEN OUTSIDE OF THE PRISON SYSTEM, ENORMOUS REARRANGEMENTS OF OUR DAILY LIVES OF SCHOOLS, OF SOCIETY, OF BUSINESSES IN ORDER TO TRY TO PROTECT PEOPLE, TO TRY TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID. THAT SAME URGENCY HAS NOT TRANSLATED INTO RELEASES FROM PRISONS WHEREVER POSSIBLE, FEASIBLE AND SAFE.

Steve says YOU KNOW, LEE, ALL RIGHT LET ME PLAY HARD ASS FOR A SECOND. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO THE CRIME... NO I BLEW THAT. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO THE TIME, DON'T DO THE CRIME. HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO WILL LISTEN TO THIS AND SAY THE EASY WAY TO STAY OUT OF JAIL, DON'T BREAK THE LAW.

The caption changes to "Lee Chapelle, @CPCIncorporated."

Lee says THAT'S A FAIR POINT AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS SHIFT... I'LL KEEP REFERENCING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND CORRECTIONS INHERITING THE ISSUES, I CAN SAY FROM WORKING HAND-IN-HAND WITH CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS, WHETHER IT'S FRONT LINE OR MANAGEMENT, ADMINISTRATION, THEY ARE UNDER CONSIDERABLE STRAIN. AND THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR THIS INCREASE OR FOR PEOPLE TO COME. I UNDERSTAND THE OBVIOUS POINT OF FEELING LIKE THERE SHOULD BE MORE RELEASING THERE IS A BACK UP THERE BECAUSE PROGRAMS HAVEN'T BEEN RUNNING, THEY HAVE IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM WHAT THEY CALL CORRECTIONAL PLANS AND THEY DISCERN INTERVENTION NEEDS SO WHETHER IT'S ANGER MANAGEMENT, SUBSTANCE ABUSE OR WHATEVER MITIGATING FACTOR. WITH THE PROGRAMS NOT RUNNING, PAROLE BOARDS AND CORRECTIONS ARE NOT ADAPTING VERY WELL TO SAYING WELL, YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED THIS PROGRAM SO YOU ARE NOW NOT GOING TO GET A PAROLE.

Steve says ABBY, WE HAVE CERTAINLY HEARD ABOUT OUTBREAKS AT MANUFACTURING FACILITIES, WE HAVE HEARD OF FOOD PROCESSING FACILITIES. HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT TOO MANY OUTBREAKS IN OUR JAILS?

Abby says ABSOLUTELY. WE KNOW FROM DATA FROM FEBRUARY AND IN OUR FEDERAL SYSTEM FOR EXAMPLE, THAT INFECTION RATES BEHIND BARS ARE FIVE TIMES HIGHER THAN THEY ARE IN THE COMMUNITY. THE LATEST COUNT WE HAVE IS A BIT HARD TO KEEP TRACK BECAUSE NOT ALL OF THE PROVINCES RELEASE COMPREHENSIVE DATA ON COVID INFECTIONS IN THEIR CORRECTIONAL SYSTEMS BUT OVER 7,000 CASES LINKED TO PRISONS AND JAILS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, OVER 5,000 OF THOSE RELATED TO PRISONERS THEMSELVES. AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN AN INFECTION DOES GET BEHIND BARS, THERE IS A VERY HIGH RISK IT WILL SPREAD RAPIDLY. A FEW OF THE OUTBREAKS OVER THE SECOND WAVE, SO DECEMBER, EARLY JANUARY, ONE IN SASKATCHEWAN HAD OVER A THIRD OF PRISONERS IN ONE INSTITUTION GET ILL FROM COVID, AND EVEN WORSE OUTBREAKS IN MANITOBA. SO ABSOLUTELY, IT IS WORSE BEHIND BARS THAN IT IS IN THE COMMUNITY.

Steve says BUT HERE IS THE KEY FOLLOWUP AND LEE I'LL PUT THIS TO YOU. I KNOW THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WATCHING OR LISTENING TO THIS AND SAYING IF THERE IS A COVID OUTBREAK BEHIND JAIL THAT DOESN'T AFFECT ME SO WHO CARES. SO, THE QUESTION IS, IS THERE A DANGER IF THERE IS AN OUTBREAK BEHIND BARS OF IT SPREADING TO THE GENERAL POPULATION OUTSIDE OF THE PRISONS?

Lee says I HAVE ALMOST TURNED INTO AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST WHEN IT COMES TO THIS. I HAVE DONE SO MUCH HOMEWORK FOR CLIENTS OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST YEAR. WHAT'S CLEAR TO ME IS THE CONGREGATE SETTINGS UNLIKE A CRUISE SHIP AND IF WE LOOK BACK TO THE BEGINNING STAGES OF THIS, THE CRUISE SHIPS THAT STAYED AT SEA FOR MONTHS UPON MONTHS AND NOBODY WANTED THEM TO DISEMBARK IN THEIR COUNTRIES, THAT'S A GOOD EXAMPLE. OUR PRISONS AND JAILS HAVE PEOPLE COMING AND GOING DAILY SO THEREFORE, IT AUTOMATICALLY REPRESENTS A CONCERN AND A THREAT TO THE COMMUNITIES THAT... WHERE THESE PRISONS AND JAILS ARE LOCATED. SO IT'S VERY EASILY TRANSFERRABLE. IT'S NOT JUST ISOLATED TO THE INSTITUTION BUT THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES AND IT'S A LEGITIMATE CONCERN FOR EVERYBODY.

Steve says THAT'S WHY EVERYONE SHOULD CARE?

Lee says YES.

Steve says GOT IT. LET ME DO A FOLLOW UP WITH YOU, LEE. IN TERMS OF THE ROUTINES OF THE AVERAGE PRISONER BEHIND BARS, HOW HAVE THOSE ROUTINES CHANGED IN A POST PANDEMIC WORLD?

The caption changes to "Life inside."

Lee says DRAMATICALLY. SO WE HAVE BEEN LIVING UNDER A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN ONTARIO FOR THE MOST PART. I THINK WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THAT EARLIER. BUT, THE IMPACT HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLE. SO, VISITS HAVEN'T BEEN HAPPENING. IN PERSON VISITS FOR THE MOST PART, FOR MORE THAN A YEAR. FAMILIES ARE UNABLE TO SEE LOVED ONES AND VICE VERSEA. THE PROGRAMMING THAT THEY HAVE RUN HASN'T BEEN RUNNING, IT'S BEEN RUNNING MINIMALLY AT BEST SO IT'S BACKLOGGED. TRANSFERS TO THE FEDERAL SYSTEM WERE BACK LOCKED. WE'RE HAVING A GROWING BACKLOG RIGHT NOW... AND WHEN IT COMES TO HAIRCUTS, FRESH AIR, PHONE CALLS, THE LIST IS LONG, IT'S A VERY RESTRICTIVE NATURE SO CORRECTIONS IS DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN WITH GUIDANCE FROM HEALTH CANADA, I BELIEVE, IN KEEPING PEOPLE AS DISTANCED AS THEY CAN. THEY ARE TRYING, BUT WHAT IT RESULTS IN IS VERY RESTRICTIVE CONDITIONS FOR INMATE POPULATIONS. AND THEY HAVE TRIED... THE FEDERAL SYSTEM HAS DONE A NUMBER OF POSITIVE THINGS, THEY HAVE INCREASED VIDEO VISIBILITY AND ABLE TO DO WHAT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW, FOR SOMEONE A COUPLE OF TIMES A MONTH TO SEE THEIR LOVED ONES. THAT SAY KEY. PROVINCIAL DOES NOT HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY. AND THEY HAVE REDUCED LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALL COSTS, SO THERE IS A NUMBER OF THINGS THEY ARE TRYING TO DO BUT I MEAN AGAIN, IT'S BEEN EXTREMELY RESTRICTIVE AND IT'S JUST NOT ALLOWED FOR PROGRESS OR REHABILITATIVE MEASURES.

Steve says ABE I WONDER HERE, IF YOU ARE IN A PRISON AND YOU ARE I DON'T KNOW, TWO, THREE, FOUR TO A CELL, HOW DO YOU PHYSICALLY DISTANCE AND TRY TO STAY SAFE VIS-A-VIS COVID-19 UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?

Abby says WELL, YOU CAN'T. AND THIS IS REALLY THE KEY. THE PRIMARY MESSAGE WE HAVE HEARD AGAIN AND AGAIN FOR OVER A YEAR NOW IS PHYSICALLY DISTANCE, ISOLATE YOURSELF AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. DON'T MIX OUTSIDE OF YOUR IMMEDIATE SOCIAL CIRCLE, YOUR HOUSEHOLD, AND UNLESS YOU GET THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THOSE INSTITUTIONS DOWN THAT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. IN SASKATCHEWAN WHEN THEY HAD AN OUTBREAK IN THE SECOND WAVE AT SASKATCHEWAN PENITENTIARY, THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO EYE ISOLATE PEOPLE. THERE WERE PEOPLE ILL WITH COVID WHO WERE IN THE SAME RANGES AND THEN TRIED TO HANG PLASTIC SHEETS DUCK TAPED TO THE CELL BARS AS INFECTION CONTROL YOU BT GAVE UP. YOU CAN'T MANAGE THESE OUTBREAKS IN A CONGREGATE SETTING WITH INSTITUTIONS HOLDING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THEY DO.

Steve says ABBY I KNOW IN A PERFECT WORLD ANYBODY WHO NEEDED OR WANTED A VACCINE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET ONE WHENEVER THEY WANT. WE DON'T LIVE IN A PERFECT WORLD SO WE'RE HAVING TO PRIORITIZE WHO GETS WHAT VACCINES WHEN. WHERE ARE PRISONERS AT THE MOMENT ON THE PRIORITY LIST?

Abby says MOST JURISDICTIONS HAVE THEM IN THE SECOND PHASE OF THEIR VACCINE ROLLOUT SO THAT IE SETTING, RIGHT. SO THEY ARE PRIORITIZED ALONG WITH OTHER CONGREGATE SETTINGS THAT DON'T HOLD PRIMARILY ELDERLY PEOPLE. SO THAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING NOW, IN MOST JURISDICTIONS. BUT IT'S DIFFICULT. IT IS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT PARTICULARLY IN THE PROVINCIAL INSTITUTIONS TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYBODY IS VACCINATED BECAUSE PEOPLE DO COME IN AND OUT OF THOSE INSTITUTIONS SO QUICKLY AND TO HAVE A TURN YOFER RAPIDLY AND THE FACT PUBLIC HEALTH WENT LAST WEEK DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN NEXT WEEK YOU WILL HAVE A PROTECTED POPULATION IN A LOT OF THOSE PROVINCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND HEALTH CARE DELIVERY IS HARD IN PRISONS AND THERE CAN BE MISTRUST BETWEEN PEOPLE BEHIND BARS AND THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS AND THAT'S GOING TIME PACT THE INFORMATION THEY PERCEIVE AND HOW THEY VIEW THE INFORMATION THEY ARE GETTING.

Steve says THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED TO FOLLOW UP WITH LEE ON. YOU KNOW HOW THE AVERAGE PRISONER THINKS, LEE, FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T BEEN ON THIS PROGRAM WATCHING YOU BEFORE, YOU HAVE DONE SOME TIME SO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THIS WORKS. HOW MUCH MISTRUST WOULD THERE BE BETWEEN PRISONER AND HEALTH? WOULD IT BE SIGNIFICANT TO THE POINT WHERE PRISONERS DON'T WANT VACCINES BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SURE WHAT'S IN THEM?

Lee says THAT IS PART OF IT AND I CAN SPEAK TO ONE CLIENT I HAVE WHOSE MOM IS an R.P.N.

Steve says WHAT'S A R.P.N.?

Lee says REGISTERED PRACTITIONER NURSE. SHE HAS BEEN ON THE FRONT LINES OF COVID IN THE HOSPITAL IN NIAGARA REGION. AND HER SON, HER ADVICE TO HER SON IN THE PROVINCIAL, ABBY IS RIGHT, PROVINCIALLY THEY RAN A TOUR. INSTITUTION TO INSTITUTION WITH VACCINES AND IT'S A TRANSIENT NATURE SO THEY COULDN'T KEEP THEY WILL ON SITE BUT THEY ROLLED THROUGH THE PROVINCE AND OFFERED VACCINES TO ANYBODY WITHIN... SO CREDIT TO THEM. MY CLIENT TURNED IT DOWN. THE REASON BEHIND TURNING IT DOWN WAS IN CASE HE HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION IN A PROVINCIAL INSTITUTION, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS HEALTH CARE AND IT WOULD BE A VERY SERIOUS THING. HE IS WAITING TRANSFER TO FEDERAL AND I CAN SAY THAT AS RECENTLY AS APRIL 7 OR 9, THE COMMISSIONER OF THE CORRECTIONAL SERVICE IN CANADA, ANN KELLY, CIRCULATED A MEMO TO ALL FEDERAL PRISONS THAT VERY CLEARLY SAID THAT WITHIN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS THEY INTEND TO HAVE THE MODERNA VACCINE ON SITE IN ALL FEDERAL PRISONS IN CANADA FOR BOTH STAFF AND INMATES AND FOR EVERYBODY WHO WANTS A VACCINE. SO, IT HAS BEEN HAPPENING. IT SURE LOOKS LIKE THE FEDERAL SYSTEM IS ON THE PRECIPICE OF BEING ABLE TO VACCINATE WHORVE NEEDS IT AND I THINK IT'S JUST IMPORTANT TO STAFF AS IT IS TO INMATES AND PROVINCIALLY IT'S FAR MORE CHALLENGING.

Steve says ABBY WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE IT SEE HAPPEN WITH INMATES GOING FORWARD.

Abby says I THINK WE NEED TO LIGHT A FIRE AGAIN. THE VACCINES ARE NOT GOING TO COME IN TIME TO PROTECT EVERYBODY FROM THE THIRD WAVE. THE THIRD WAVE IS ALREADY HERE. WE NEED TO HAVE EVERYBODY FROM POLICE TO PROSECUTORS TO THE JUDICIARY, TO CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS, REALLY FOCUSING ON KEEPING PEOPLE OUT OF THOSE INSTITUTIONS WHEREVER POSSIBLE, AND RELEASING THE PEOPLE THAT CAN BE SAFELY RELEASED INTO THE COMMUNITY. AND THEN WE NEED TO PUT A FOCUS ON VACCINES. ULTIMATELY, THAT IS GOING TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT GOING TO BE RELEASED AND IT'S AN URGENT CRISIS.

Steve says LEE, HOW ABOUT YOU ON THAT SAME QUESTION?

Lee says I THINK FROM A VERY PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVE I WOULD LIKE TO SEE POSITIVE, STEMMING FROM WHAT'S BANE REAL ADVERSITY FOR ALL OF US AND A LOOK INWARD AND RETOOLING CORRECTIONS SO WE CAN MINIMALLY REDUCE THE SINGLE BUNKING ACROSS THE BOARD. THIS IS NOT FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE CONSERVATIVE AND TOUGH ON CRIME, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A 6 BY 10-FOOT CELL. IT'S NOT AUSTERE BY ANY MEANS BUT AGAIN, FROM A PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVE IF WE CAN REDUCE TO STRAIGHTFORWARD SINGLE BUNKING THAT WOULD BE REALLY IMPORTANT AND ALSO IF WE CAN SOMEHOW DIRECT MORE RELEASES WHERE THE COMMUNITY SUPPORTS ARE IN PLACE AND IT'S SAFE TO DO SO, I THINK WE SHOULD MOVE ON THAT.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Steve says ABE DESHMAN FROM THE C.C.L.A. AND LEE CHAPELLE, CANADIAN PRISON CONSULTING INC., WE'RE GREAT YOU BOTH COULD SPARE TIME WITH US TO TALK ABOUT THE STATE OF COVID-19 IN OUR PRISONS. THANKS TO YOU BOTH AND STAY SAFE OUT THERE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Lee says THANK YOU.

Abby says THANK YOU.

Watch: The State of COVID-19 in Jails