Correctional officer fired for striking inmate

Employee denied any wrongdoing and showed disdain for supervisor and investigation process
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The Canadian Public Service Relations Board had ruled the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) was within its rights to fire an employee for using excessive force restraining an inmate.

Kenny Roberts had been a correctional officer since 1987, most recently at Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ont. In 1999 he had a serious illness which left him with impaired vision. Because of this condition, it was recommended he be placed in a position where he wouldn’t have any contact with inmates. It was agreed the night shift at the penitentiary hospital would minimize that possibility.

On the evening of Sept. 28, 2005, an inmate was found in his cell in a state of agitation. He had slashed his arm with a razor blade. The inmate also claimed to have swallowed razor blades. The supervisor on the shift calmed the inmate down and ordered him to be taken to the penitentiary hospital. He was handcuffed and escorted by the supervisor and two officers. Roberts was in the hospital at the time with another officer and a nurse. The inmate was placed in a chair and the nurse began pouring a liquid onto a towelette. When the inmate saw this, he asked if it was rubbing alcohol. He was told it wasn’t but when the nurse tried to apply the towellette, the inmate protested and began to struggle. Roberts, the supervisor and the nurse restrained his arms. Roberts placed his hand on the inmate’s nose and mouth and the supervisor told him things were under control as the inmate was still handcuffed and restrained in the chair so he should remove his hand from the inmate’s face. When Roberts did so, he pushed the inmate’s head up, which further agitated the inmate. He had to repeat the direction to Roberts.