Published On Mon Dec 21 2009
The 17-year-old Toronto youth wonders why officers at The Roy put him on a range with a youth convicted of attempted murder.
"Personally, I think they put me with all the worst," said the teen, who was awaiting a bail hearing on robbery charges. "There were seven people on that range charged with murder."
The youth arrived at the jail a few months after it opened.
Rehabilitative programming, which the ministry promised to provide, simply didn't exist.
"We'd sit around doing nothing all day," he said. "Only thing they had was one guy who would come around sometimes to the ranges with weight stuff."
The teen was in custody for weeks awaiting his bail hearing. There were scheduling problems with his lawyer, and his mother had trouble taking time off work to travel from Scarborough to Brampton to act as his surety. It takes almost three hours on public transit.
"I got into a fight," he said. "I couldn't go to school for three weeks." The jail has a high school on site for detainees.
"I got tired of the s–t," he said. He got along with some of the staff but got frustrated with others.
"A lot of the new people have no idea what they're doing," he said. "They're asking us questions about how to do certain stuff – like we're supposed to know."
The teen said he and some other youths were observing Ramadan – fasting during the day, eating only when the sun came down.
He said he was in the kitchen area of his range with two other youths when an officer ordered them back to their rooms.
He said he tried to explain why they were there, that the evening routine had been approved.
When the youths refused to return to their rooms without food, the teen said an officer pushed a call button requesting additional help.
When an emergency response team arrived, the teen said he was kicked and hit by the officers and held on the ground, his hands cuffed behind his back. He said he was taken to "the hole" – the segregated isolation unit – where he spent a few days before being transferred to another youth jail.
"There's nothing but a toilet and bed in there. No sheets, no clothes." He said he was told to strip down to his boxers.
He said his requests to call a lawyer or the youth advocate were denied.
When the Star relayed details of the case to the ministry for confirmation, a spokesperson said in the interest of protecting a youth's privacy, they could neither confirm nor deny the claims.