Investigation into fatal riot at Sask. Pen. 'superficial, self-serving, and not credible,’ ombudsman says
The Office of the Correctional Investigator rejects the claim by Correctional Services Canada that the fatal 2016 riot at Saskatchewan Penitentiary was a spontaneous and random event that could not have been predicted or prevented.
“For example, the Office concluded that food quantity and quality issues were contributing factors to this riot, contradicting the Service’s claim that the riot was unrelated to food services,” according to a news release from the office of ombudsman Ivan Zinger.
“Moreover, CSC’s public account of the riot did not reflect the findings of its internal investigation. The Office found CSC’s investigation to be superficial, self-serving, and not credible.”
Zinger has recommended to Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale that CSC not investigate itself in circumstances involving a riot, death or suicide in solitary confinement, or death following a use of force intervention.
The prison was locked down after 131 inmates rioted in December of 2016.
Inmate Jason Leonard Bird, 43, was found unresponsive in the medium-security unit after the incident. He was pronounced dead in hospital. A 31-year-old inmate was also injured in the attack.
Four men were charged with second degree murder and attempted murder.
The investigation into the riot was part of the annual ombudsman’s report to Parliament.
Zinger’s investigation found that CSC interviewed only one inmate and relied mostly on management’s interpretation of events; the underlying Indigenous composition and gang dynamics of the riot were ignored; and little attention was paid to identifying or understanding the riot’s underlying catalysts.
The annual report also recommends a “back-to-basics” approach to corrections – including the view that people are sent to prison to rehabilitate, not for punishment. It also states the goals of corrections include safe and humane custody, offender rehabilitation and community reintegration.