News Release Archive

JUSTICE--Department Accepts Escape Report Recommendations
The Department of Justice today released the review of the Oct.
18 escape of five offenders from the Cape Breton Correctional

The report found the escape can be attributed to a number of
factors, including inadequate video surveillance, poor lighting,
and the use of weight bars to break through clasps in the fence
surrounding the recreation yard.  

The report made 15 recommendations to ensure a similar incident
does not recur. They range from installation of more cameras to
construction of a second fence around the centre's perimeter.

The Department of Justice has accepted all 15 recommendations and
has begun implementation.  

"We want to assure the people of Cape Breton that we are taking
every possible step to protect public safety and security," said
Fred Honsberger, executive director of corrections. "It is
important that we learn from this incident and take whatever
corrective action that is necessary."

The following outline the 15 recommendations and the response of
the Department of Justice:

1. Operational procedures relating to inmate amenities should be
standardized across the province. 

This recommendation is agreed upon in principle. Standard
operating procedures is an objective, but facility design,
programs for offenders, staffing levels must all be taken into
account when setting operational policy.

2. Commitments to change procedure should be acted upon promptly.

Changes will be instituted promptly. Should a delay in
implementation be necessary, explanation will be provided to
offenders relating to the reasons for delay.

3. Staff should conduct a review of their work habits and
communications skills relating to their work at the institution.

This recommendation is accepted. Staff must continue to be firm,
fair and consistent and must follow through with action relating
to assistance or discipline as needed.

4. Staff should be cautioned regarding compliance to policy
relating to conversations subject to solicitor/client privilege.
The policy regarding the confidentiality of conversations with
lawyers, ombudsman, and human rights commission representatives
has been reiterated.

5. The provincial health care co-ordinator should review concerns
relating to the dispensing of medicines.

A full health care review is currently under way.

6. Policy relating to segregation should be reviewed, relating to
responsibilities for placements in segregation. 

It is the responsibility of the shift supervisor to make
decisions regarding segregation. Compliance with the policy will
be examined.

7. Efforts should be made to ensure the segregation process
complies with policies and procedures.

The province has just developed a complete set of new policies
and procedures. As stated above, compliance with the policy will
be examined.

8. The provincial health care co-ordinator should conduct a
review of the delivery of medical services in the Cape Breton
Correctional Centre.

The review is currently going on. Two additional part-time nurses
have been hired and are currently being trained. Also under
consideration is the possibility of using the services of the VON
on an interim basis.

9. All fence brackets should be replaced with galvanized steel
brackets in institutions throughout the province.

The process to replace brackets is under way. The weight bars in
the yards, which compounded the problem with the fencing, have
also been removed.

10. A second perimeter fence should be installed at the Cape
Breton Correctional Centre.

The fence should be completed this week.

11. A third camera should be installed in the centre of the
maximum security exercise yard.

A camera with pan, tilt and zoom features will be installed
within the month.  

12. Lights in the recreation yard should be refocused to ensure
light provided complements camera coverage area.  

When the new camera is installed, the lights will be refocused.

13. The multiplexers --screens that monitor and display activity
in various areas of the institution --should be upgraded.

The department will upgrade to provide new monitoring and
recording capability that is compatible with new camera.    

14. Emergency response equipment should be augmented.

Correctional officers use equipment to control and defuse
situations. The inventory of shields and helmets will be assessed
and increased as necessary.  

15. Scheduled media briefings and written statements should be
used during high-profile incidents.

It is vital that staff be accessible to media during incidents of
this nature. Each incident will be evaluated on a case-by-case
basis and media will be advised accordingly.

The internal review conducted by staff at the institution
mirrored the findings of the review conducted by the Police and
Public Safety Division of the Department of Justice.

Recommendations stemming from that report called for the removal
of weight equipment from the exercise yards, the installation of
new cameras, the restriction of numbers permitted to use the
recreation yards at any given time, an additional fence, and the
updating of the critical response protocols.


Contact: Michele McKinnon
         Department of Justice

NOTE TO EDITORS: Phone interviews with Mr. Honsberger and Rick
Parsons, acting superintendent of the Cape Breton Correctional
Centre, can be arranged by contacting Nadia Supple at

Copies of the report are available at Communications Nova Scotia,
One Government Place, 1700 Granville St., Halifax.

sab                     Dec. 1, 1997            1:38 p.m.