Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Union head says prison guards not trained to deal with severely mentally ill

SASKATOON - The president of the union that represents Canadian prison guards says they are not being properly trained to deal with inmates who have mental health issues.

Kevin Grabowsky of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says it's a growing problem, pointing to the case of 43-year-old Marlene Carter.

She was recently sentenced to an additional two years at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon for 17 charges from assaults to peace officers and medical officials.

Court was told that Carter spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement strapped to a bed because otherwise she repeatedly bangs her head against the walls of her cell at a rate that can reach 150 times in a couple of minutes.

Officials with the Elizabeth Fry Society, a prisoner advocacy group, say Carter is severely mentally ill and needs to be moved to a more appropriate facility.

They say there are parallels to the case of Ashley Smith, the emotionally disturbed teenager who choked herself to death at a prison in Kingston, Ont., while her guards followed an order to stay out of her cell while she was still breathing.

Grabowsky supports the suggestion to move Carter to the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre in Brockville, Ont., saying guards at facilities like RPC simply haven’t been trained to deal with severely mentally ill inmates.

“None of us are medical professionals as correctional officers and certainly two days of training doesn’t do it," he says. "Maybe there’s training that will help us deal with some of that and that’s the piece that’s missing.

“Correctional officers certainly don’t put Marlene Carter in restraints on their own, it’s prescribed, it comes from the mental health professionals that say ‘this is our treatment of how we’re going to stop her behaviour.’ It’s not correctional officers that say, ‘let’s put her in restraints.’”

Grabowsky says a joint judicial and health-care overhaul needs to happen.

“They need to start looking at who they are saying is criminally responsible and who is not criminally responsible and maybe review that throughout the sentence," he says. "Because if these inmates, in our facilities, if they worsen much like Marlene Carter, there has to be an overhaul of how they look after the mentally ill in prison.”

(CKOM)

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Election 2014
Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media