A correctional worker at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside has lost her job for allegedly kissing an inmate and other breaches of a code of professional conduct, CBC News has learned.
Documents obtained through the provincial Freedom of Information Act say the January incident happened in the jail's library. The names of the male offender and female correctional worker have been withheld.
Another worker who said he witnessed the incident reported it to a supervisor.
In a report dated Jan. 27, the witness wrote that he "walked past the library door which was closed and looked in the window of the library and seen what appeared to be officer [redacted] and offender [redacted] kissing each other at the back area of the library."
In subsequent interviews with officials — including the deputy superintendent of operations — the inmate and correctional worker denied they had any physical contact with one another.
According to a written summary of the interview, she did receive items from the inmate.
"When asked for specifics regarding offender [redacted] she said she had received hand drawn pictures, Christmas cards and letters from him that could be classified as personal," wrote Tracy Dominix, the deputy superintendent of operations.
"When asked if she thought this should be reported to the captain, she acknowledged that it should have been reported and that she should have told the offender that he should not be writing to her."
'She had crossed the line'
According to the documents, the correctional worker admitted to taking the inmate to the library on "several occasions and would stay for an extended duration" but maintained they never had physical contact.
She said her peers "advised her that she should not be spending so much time" with the inmate and admitted that "she had crossed the line."
Staff searched the inmate's cell and found letters addressed to a correctional worker. It's not known who they were addressed to because the worker's name is redacted.
Staff also found notes indicating possible drug activity within the facility.
The inmate, who was also interviewed by officials, denied having any physical contact with the correctional worker but said "he loved her and cared for her" and "planned on changing his life so they could be together in the future."
"He truly has a bond with her and has never felt this way," the documents say.
Greg McCamon spent more than 25 years working in corrections, including almost three years as deputy superintendent of operations at the Burnside jail. He now teaches young correctional workers at a college in Lower Sackville.
He said personal relationships between inmates and correctional workers have always been prohibited.
Compromises security, says expert
"It compromises security of the facility, it's unethical for the correctional officer to do it," said McCamon.
"If they're breaking their ethics in that way, it raises a lot of concern among the rest of the staff in the institution when they find out it's going on."
According to the written summary, the correctional worker admitted to not following proper protocol, including failing to pat down the inmate for contraband before leaving his cell.
McCamon said that may seem like a small thing, but it isn't.
"An inmate could have contraband in their cell and they may want to move it to another unit so they'll take it and hide it in the library. The person from the other unit — when they use the library — they'll pick it up and move it to the other unit," he said.
The documents say the correctional worker was placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
"What I can tell you is the correctional officer in question is no longer employed with the facility," said Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Diab.
Neither the union nor the Department of Justice will say whether the officer was eventually fired or resigned.