Christoppher Iser alleges in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court that there's not enough security in the federal prison system to deal with the ongoing influx of gang members into the system.
Iser claims that within a day of being placed in the prison yard at Matsqui Institution, a federal medium security prison in Abbotsford, B.C., he was set upon and beaten by other inmates he believes were members of the rival Red Scorpions.
"The plaintiff was an obvious target for gang-related violence," says Iser's lawyer In a statement of claim, "particularly given the circumstances of his arrest and conviction."
Iser, an associate of Gurmit Dhak, who was gunned down outside Metrotown in October 2010, had just begun serving a seven and a half year prison sentence for various weapons offences. At his trial following a B.C. Gang Task Force sting, the judge noted Iser was of interest to police because of his affiliation with criminal gangs.
The lawsuit notes Iser's co-accused was significantly injured in a gang-motivated attack while in pretrial provincial custody and again while in federal custody six months before Iser was attacked in August 2012. It says, given these circumstances, prison officials should have anticipated Iser could himself become a target.
"Prior to the incident, there had been a number of assaults on individuals known or suspected to be related to gang rivalry at both provincial pretrial centres and federal institutions," says the lawsuit.
Guards turned a blind eye
Iser's statement of claim alleges that prison officials have inadequate security to deal with rising gang violence within its walls and that Matsqui Institution has failed to discipline or dismiss staff who turn a blind eye to the use of physical force by other inmates.
It says Iser suffered a traumatic brain injury when his skull was fractured as a result of the attack, has seizures, is incontinent, has impaired speech and vision, and is no longer able to care for himself. Iser is seeking general, aggravated and special damages.
A statement of claim represents only one side of the argument. The Attorney General of Canada has yet to file its statement of defence.
Two years ago, a CBC investigation found the number of federal inmates who belong to gangs had climbed by 32 per cent compared to less than five per cent of non gang members.
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