Black prisoner brutally assaulted by prison guards, seeks prisoner was brutally assaulted by prison guards at Millhaven Institution in Ontario.
The prisoner, Christophe Lewis, is currently held at the Federal Training Centre in Laval, Quebec. Having obtained a video recording of the assault, Lewis is now hoping that criminal charges be laid against the offending guards.
The assault occurred as Lewis was re-entering the facility in November 2012 when a female guard demanded to strip search him. As the video shows, Lewis requested that the strip search be conducted by a male guard, as prison protocol requires. Rather than complying with the request, roughly twenty guards participated in an assault on Lewis â€“ punching and kicking him, using a banned headlock on him, and firing pepper spray into his eyes.
The assault testifies to the violence experienced by prisoners, especially Black and Indigenous prisoners, in Canada's prisons. It also points to the failures of the system to respond to complaints. Soon after the assault, Lewis filed a complaint with the Office of the Correctional Investigator. Anne Kelley, then Senior Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada (CSC) and now Commissioner of CSC, ultimately upheld Lewis's grievance, but judged that no corrective action against the guards was required.
All of the guards remained at work, and some would call me names, threaten me, deny me phone calls, showers, and meals as they saw fit. It's clear to me that the guards were only emboldened by their action against me, says Lewis. have decided to come forward with this video due, in part, to continued mistreatment and pressure from CSC staff that has shown me they will never change their systemically racist tendencies. I am shedding light on these incidents in the hopes that systemic change will come.
Seeking justice for the assault he experienced, Lewis is represented by renowned Montreal-based carceral lawyer Sylvia Bordelais. He is also being supported by two prisoners rights groups, the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project and the Montreal-based Anti-Carceral Group.
The brutal attack on Christophe Lewis is heart-wrenching and outlines precisely why people across the country are calling for an end to policing and incarceration. As Christophe has made clear, this is not an institution invested in healing or rehabilitation; instead, it is where police send those of us deemed disposable to be tortured and maimed, says Rajean Hoilett, member of the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project. Every day people are brutalized by prisons while those responsible for this violence move through our communities emboldened by impunity. As Christophe makes clear, we need systemic solutions that prevent and redress harm, rather than perpetuate it through criminalization and punishment.