Ombudsman's report finds use of pepper spray against Regina inmate unjustified
REGINA -- Saskatchewan’s Ombudsman believes the use of pepper spray against a Regina inmate was not justified, according to a new report.
The pepper spray incident at the Regina Correctional Centre was highlighted in Ombudsman Mary McFadyen’s annual report, which was tabled in the provincial legislature Thursday.
The Ombudsman reported that a guard entered the cell of an unruly inmate, who was shredding clothing, and deployed pepper spray without warning. The report said the inmate was then left in his cell for 33 minutes before receiving what should have been immediate medical attention.
“They did not have reasonable grounds to use the force of a pepper spray in this situation. He was not resisting,” said McFadyen.
The Ombudsman said after the inmate was allowed to shower, he was returned to the contaminated cell – a further breach of policy – and later given supplies to clean the cell himself. Guards submitted post incident reports that said pepper spray was used over fears the inmate may have had a weapon.
“They added additional information to justify why they had made the decision and they did that after the fact. They filled out in in a part of the form that looked like it was the supervisor’s comments rather than the person adding the information,” said McFadyen.
The Ombudsman concluded that pepper spray had been improperly used as punishment, something that concerns the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan.
“All of these things are really frustrating. I wish that they were completely out of the ordinary, but the fact is we have seen problems with use of force in correctional facilities forever and we’ve seen problems with lack of accountability in corrections facilities forever,” said Pierre Hawkins, public legal council at the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan.
The incident has been brought to the attention of the Minister of Corrections Christine Tell.
“I think it’s just a question of going through it again with staff and it is a continuous process,” Tell said on Thursday.
An internal review by Corrections found that the use of pepper spray was justified in this case. The Ombudsman has made six additional recommendations that Corrections has accepted.