A Jewish-Indigenous inmate is suing prison authorities for alleged brutality by guards that he says has cost him income and left him with permanent injuries.
In his unproven statement of claim, Timothy (Mitch) Nome, 44, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for punching a guard in 2005, makes several allegations against correctional officers he says warrant compensation of more than $1.4 million — half in punitive damages.
Lawyer Max Silverman said the lawsuit is also an effort to shine a light on the “darkness behind the walls” of Canada’s prison system.
“Before I started working on this case, I never would have suspected such profound cruelty in Canadian prisons,” Silverman said from Montreal.
Nome is now incarcerated at Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba — where he was moved in March 2017 after he said guards in British Columbia had deliberately housed him with known white supremacists.
However, the claim filed on Thursday with Superior Court in Montreal, relates to the 15 months Nome spent from December 2009 to March 2012 in the special handling unit of the Quebec Regional Reception Centre in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines.
“Plaintiff experienced particularly brutal and violent treatment in the course of his incarceration at the special handling unit,” the claim alleges. “As a result of the incidents alleged herewithin, plaintiff began a cycle of hatred, paranoia and psychological distress that not only caused him suffering, but prolonged his correctional plan and his incarceration.”
Video exists for some of the eight incidents he alleges. In some cases, the federal prison ombudsman found fault with the guards. Among the incidents:
— Two guards broke his wrist and dislocated his shoulder;
— A guard pulled Nome’s pants down and tried to penetrate him by hand;
— A guard threatened to kill Nome’s rabbi, leading to an altercation that left the prisoner pepper-sprayed and with a broken finger;
— Two guards forced him against a wall, beat him, then vandalized his skull cap;
— Guards assaulted him while he was handcuffed, while one emptied a canister of gas in his face. He lost two teeth and his nose was badly broken;
“Plaintiff suffered severe damage to his nose, which has yet to receive proper care as of the time of filing of this application,” the claim alleges. ”Plaintiff’s fingers have been damaged and redamaged to the point that they no longer have the same function they once did.”
Correctional Service Canada refused comment on Nome’s litigation because it is before the courts. It also did not say whether any correctional officers had faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of their interactions with him.
“Our employees are expected to act according to the highest legal and ethical standards, and are subject to the rules of professional conduct and code of discipline,” a CSC spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We do not tolerate any breach of our policies and incidents of employee misconduct are investigated.”
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press