In support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada
Regina Jail No-Contact Visits Rule Called Cruel

Jail's No-Contact Rule Called Cruel
February 9, 2005
CBC News

REGINA – The Regina correctional centre's no-contact visitation rule – aimed at stemming the flow of drugs and weapons into the jail – is a cruel and counterproductive policy, a spokesman for the John Howard Society says.

Inmates used to be allowed to hug and kiss their family members during visits.

However, under a pilot project launched last year after a fight at the jail, family visits are now conducted by phone through a Plexiglas barrier.

The Regina jail is the only provincial correctional centre with the no-contact rule.

But Mike Dunphey of the John Howard Society in Saskatchewan said not being able to have physical contact is cruel treatment and interferes with rehabilitation.

"I think about if my kids came and...saw me behind Plexiglas, how frightening that would be," he said. "It's really not a visitation."

The measure was put in place after a brawl at the jail last summer.

Fourteen inmates from two gangs were involved and two inmates were stabbed.

Dunphey said stopping contraband can be achieved without taking away physical contact. He said increasing staff who watch prisoners during visits would help.

According to Julien Hulet, the acting director of the jail, the no-contact rule is working.

"We've seen a decrease in the amount of contraband that's brought into the correctional centre," he said.

"We've seen an increase in the quality of the type of visits that visitors attending to the centre have."

Hulet said inmates are still allowed to apply for a face-to-face family visit every 28 days.

An interim report on the test policy is expected in the summer.

The no-contact rule could become permanent by November.

Jail restricts visits to keep out drugs, weapons
Feb 7 2005
CBC News

REGINA – The Regina Correctional Centre is trying to stem the flow of drugs and weapons into the facility by banning contact visits with inmates.

Last year, families of inmates were allowed to hug and kiss at the jail, but currently visits must be done by phone through a Plexiglas wall.

According to a recent court judgment, the director of the jail ordered the ban in response to a fight in the exercise area last July that involved about 14 inmates from two gangs.

Two inmates were stabbed in that incident.

"The director's view is that visitations are believed to be a major source of drugs and weapons for inmates," a Queen's Bench judge said in a Jan. 25 ruling.

In an affidavit filed with the court, the director said the ban was supposed to make the jail safer and more secure for both the inmates and jail staff.

The director said making exceptions for certain inmates would be a mistake.

"Allowing a restricted number of inmate to have contact visits will focus the threats and intimidation on those individuals and their visitors to smuggle drugs and weapons into the centre," the director said in the affidavit.

Regina courts have seen a number of cases in recent years involving people smuggling drugs into the jail with the help of visitors.

The no-contact visit policy came under the scrutiny of the courts when a man charged with murdering his wife asked a judge to allow contact visits with two of his young children while he was remanded at the jail.

The inmate received four visits from the children where they could hug and play games before the non-contact rule was applied.

The court ruled the policy wasn't proven to be unfair or arbitrary and the inmate's application was dismissed.