Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Man Launches Lawsuit against Ontario Government over Vicious Jail Assault

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Man Launches Lawsuit against Ontario Government over Vicious Jail Assault

Article excerpt

Man sues Ontario government over jail assault


TORONTO - A former inmate has launched a lawsuit against the Ontario government over conditions at a provincial jail, claiming a vicious beating he suffered behind bars was the result of the province's negligence.

Francis Jesse Deguire's allegations focus on the Brockville Jail in eastern Ontario, where he claims an attack by other inmates last year nearly detached his eyelid and left him with bloody head injuries.

In a statement of claim filed with a Brockville, Ont., court, Deguire alleges the province failed to ensure his safety while incarcerated.

"The plaintiff's assault and resultant damages and injuries were caused by the negligence of the defendant," Deguire's statement of claim says. "The defendant knew or ought to have known that its acts or omissions would place the plaintiff in danger."

The attack was so severe that a judge who sentenced one of Deguire's attackers questioned whether it was time for an inquiry into provincial institutions.

"Surely society, the institutions have an obligation and a duty to protect inmates. There have been complaints for years about the state of our institutions," said Justice Peter Wright. "This is far worse. It raises serious issues of safety, about the ability of correctional officers to respond, their authority, training, planning and supervision."

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

A spokesman from Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said it would be "inappropriate" to publicly comment on a matter before the courts.

Deguire was sentenced in February 2015 to four months in jail for impaired driving and was incarcerated at the Brockville Jail, where he spent the first three days sleeping on a cell floor because a bed wasn't available.

He was then transferred to a detention centre in Lindsay, Ont., before being sent back to Brockville to serve the last four days of his sentence.

It was during those last four days that the attack happened.

Deguire learned he would be housed in "Dorm 2" -- which he believed was occupied primarily by violent offenders and had a history of assaults against inmates -- and expressed concerns about his safety to correctional officers, the statement of claim said. …

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