Prison to put sensitive mail in envelopes after document intercepted

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada informs that an inmate at a maximum-security prison near Agassiz, B.C., complained to them after a 10-page National Parole Board decision about him was circulated among his fellow inmates.

The decision, which included a graphic description of the prisoner’s offence, was to have been delivered to the inmate through the Kent Institution’s internal mail. However, the document was not placed in an envelope. Instead, it was simply folded and stapled, and his name was written on the outside.

The parole board decision never reached the inmate. Instead, it appears to have been intercepted, photocopied and circulated among the prison population.

Prison officials wrote to the inmate to acknowledge the privacy breach and to advise him of his right to complain to our Office.

The warden of Kent Institution, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada, also launched an investigation of the incident. The investigation confirmed that the document had been viewed by various inmates without the complainant’s permission, but could find no evidence that a staff member had intentionally delivered the papers to the wrong inmate.

Our investigation determined that the disclosure violated the Privacy Act and upheld the complaint as well founded.

Following the incident, the warden implemented some changes to the penitentiary’s mail delivery process. Confidential documents are now placed in sealed envelopes.

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