Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Russell Williams tricked staff into believing he was stable

KINGSTON, Ont. - Accused killer Russ Williams was able to make an elaborate suicide attempt in jail because he tricked staff into believing that his mental state had stabilized, sources have told QMI Agency.
Williams, 47, the former commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, was taken off strict suicide watch at Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee in recent weeks because his behaviour seemed rational and compliant.
He was speaking reservedly to some staff, and he was being polite and respectful. He was often seen reading in his cell.
Because of his conduct, Williams was permitted to wear regular clothes, receive standard meals and was not being watched by security staff around-the-clock.
Authorities now believe he spent considerable time plotting to kill himself.
Early Saturday morning of the Easter weekend, he jammed cardboard and foil-like drink powder packaging into the lock mechanism of his cell door, then pushed a toilet tissue tube filled with more cardboard and foil down his throat in an apparent bid to choke himself to death, QMI learned.
He wrote a suicide note on the wall of his cell in mustard squeezed from packets provided with meals.
Staff were able to quickly open the cell door and rescue Williams before he had seriously injured himself.
Extraordinary security measures have now been imposed and are likely to remain in place for the duration of his stay at Quinte.
Williams is shackled in leg irons and handcuffs every time he leaves his cell, even for showers. He has been stripped of his regular clothing and forced to wear a smock-like anti-suicide gown made from a quilted fabric that cannot be burned, torn or twisted.
The wearer cannot tear off pieces to fashion a noose.
He also is subject to constant surveillance by a staffer posted directly outside his segregation unit cell, where he is housed next to Dean Brown, the 18-year-old man charged with shooting a Belleville area woman and her 14-year-old daughter to death last month.
Sources at Quinte say Williams, who is still receiving regular visits from his wife each week, is now considered a dangerous, conniving prisoner whose conduct is unpredictable.
When he is taken to the jail¹s visiting unit, movement of all other prisoners at Quinte is halted.
Williams is being strip searched daily and his cell is searched each day. He has virtually no contact with other inmates, except those he can see and hear in the segregation unit.
Hamed Shafia, a 19-year-old Montreal man accused of murdering four family members in a purported honour killing in Kingston last year, is housed in the cell directly across from Williams. Shafia¹s two co-accused, his mother and father, are housed in other sections of the jail.
There has been other unusual conduct from Williams since his arrest in early February.
He has been writing in a diary in what appears to be code. The writings are seen by staff who search his cell. The code appears between sentences he writes about the mundane affairs of daily life in a jail.
The suicide message he left noted that his affairs were now in order and that his feelings were too much to bear.
When Williams first arrived at the cramped Napanee facility, he behaved as if he were a prisoner of war, refusing to provide anything except name, rank and serial number.
Despite the extreme precautions that have been taken, authorities remain concerned that Williams, who is extremely intelligent and resourceful, will find other means to try to end his life.
Inmates have attempted suicide by standing on the stainless steel sink in their cells and diving headfirst onto the floor of a cell.
Inmates also have been known to bang their heads on the sink or stainless steel toilet in a bid to injure or kill themselves.
Michael Edelson, the Ottawa lawyer representing Williams, will not answer questions about the suicide attempt or the latest precautions.
“I’m not making any comment about the case,” he told QMI Agency on Monday.
Williams is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of air force flight attendant Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, of Belleville.
He also is charged with home-invasion sex attacks on two women in the Tweed area in September 2009.

It's horrible that this commander, once a hero, is now sitting in solitary confinement facing charges of murder and sexual assault. I can't help but wonder, what went wrong in his life? I actually have sympathy towards this man. Even though he attempted suicide, I don't feel he should be segregated from the general population. He has not attempted to kill anyone else, but himself. By not permitting him to interact with anyone, is only going to make his psychological condition worsen, in my opinion. Yes, he should have a different cell which is "suicide-proof," but he should not be separated from everyone. 

Solitary confinement is one of the cruelest forms of torture that one human being can do to another. Isolation breeds mental illness and causes psychological and physical deterioration, which will only make matters worse. This man needs counseling of some sort to find out the "stressors" in his life leading to crime but he also needs human interaction.  

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