Edmonton’s maximum-security prison is operating on a dystopian system of fear, harassment and bullying — where a handful of employees have seized control and abuse their power to stay on top, according to an internal report obtained by CBC News.
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) ordered the report around the time it came to light that some male guards missed some inmates’ calls for help while they had sexually explicit conversations about their female coworkers, using work phones.
The report describes a toxic culture at the Edmonton Institution, where bad behaviour is on full display but often goes undisciplined, and employees are afraid to tell managers about infractions, like abuse of co-workers or inmates, for fear of retribution.
The toxicity in the Edmonton prison was so prolific that the investigators compared it to “the Blob,” from the 1950s sci-fi movie.
“Many of the people who become part of it are good people but helpless against its power,” reads the report. “How do you get rid of something so all-consuming?”
Last fall, the CSC’s deputy commissioner Peter Linkletter tasked an independent consulting firm with looking into the Edmonton Institution’s working environment.
The firm picked 83 current and past employees at random to answer a set of questions during hour-long interviews. The firm also interviewed 23 others, including experts, union representatives and senior managers.
Employees reported harassment, bullying and intimidation at most levels, the report said, from management down.
They also referred to five or six people in particular who used bullying and intimidation tactics to wield power. While those people are not named in the report, it suggests employees knew who they were and feared them.
“Some felt guilty that they had turned away from watching actions that others did that were wrong — abuse of other staff or inmates. Why? In part, because they feared retribution from bullies,” the report…