Goof’s

Criminal charges have been laid against two correctional officers and one supervisor at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in London, Ontario, Canada, in connection with the October beating death of 29-year-old inmate Adam Kargus. All three staff members were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life. They are 47-year-old Leslie Lonsbary, 55-year-old Gregory Langford, and 52-year-old Stephen Jurkus.

It surely must have been a strange day for the three to spend some hours in jail. I suspect unlike Mr. Kargus, they were not placed with a historically violent offender. They probably weren’t bullied for their meals and I would be surprised if they even had to show their rectums like the rest of us.

I’m not sure who to swing at first. The provincial Liberals even after inquests have ignored systemic and specific problems at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC). There is blood on their hands. The Liberals and ministers have a societal if not legal duty not to endanger lives. The Liberals have not performed their duty and are negligent. They should be held responsible but will receive pensions rather than prison. They have shown complete disregard for officer and inmate safety. It may not be criminal negligence but it is clearly political negligence. They won’t find themselves in court but come election time they may not find themselves in office. Being in the provincial legislature should be an honour, not a defence. In court it is not necessary to show intent regarding negligence, it is enough to show indifference. This story involves an incident but the situation and conditions have been presented to this government for over a year and a half and it has been mishandled as long.

Don Ford who is a spokesperson for the Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU) is quoted as saying “The ministry hasn’t fixed the problems in there and now we do have a tragedy, the death of this inmate (his name was Adam)(sic)and officers being charged.” If officers being charged is a tragedy it must also be a tragedy that the murderer was charged as well. “That is just heartbreaking to be honest.” said Mr. Ford. Funny, I don’t recall OPSEU or Don Ford being heartbroken until officers were charged. That’s the problem right there. Respect and concern can be found in spades amongst guards but it is extinct in many instances between inmates and officers. It is probably a good thing that Corrections doesn’t have their own Special Investigations Unit made up of correctional officers like we have for police forces. We know that track record or is it a broken record – “found no wrongdoing.” Don Ford is also quoted as saying the murder “did not happen in isolation of conditions.” Isn’t that like saying the driver wasn’t responsible for going 100 miles per hour but rather rain slick roads were the cause of the crash?

Adam Kargus was beaten and died on October 31st and discovered at 10 a.m. on November 1st. So much for checking on your charges every 30 minutes. It will be argued that only two officers were working in a situation that required three. I would be curious to know if union breaks and meals were taken. I was a business owner and often duties fell to me that required two people. It was a flooring business but I was conscientious enough to ensure the job was done. People had kitchens and bathrooms they needed back and now a family has a son they need back.

We are talking about a minimum level of care. Can we not expect that at least from our government, its ministers and civil servants? The necessities of life are a societal standard, unfortunately correctional officers sometimes use personal standards. Hopefully Adam’s death will raise both.

Since I am calling out people I will also call out the inmates themselves. One inmate who was on the unit at the time of the murder said in court that “he was screaming for help.” The prisoner code is animalistic, immoral and perverted. Anyone who heard those screams for hours should be haunted. Your silence was the fatal blow. Your code and infantile rules such as never to call someone a “Goof” has become a nail in a coffin. A Goof is as a Goof does.

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