A Brief Synopsis of the operations of
* Service Prisons And Detention Barracks *

( During The Provost Era )

C Pro C Disciplinarian trade's badge.

Military "service Detention Barracks (SDBs)"and Service Prisons existed in one form or another throughout history (ie: guardhouses) as a means for Army Commanders to punish unruly soldiers. Following WWII, the Canadian Army established SDBs in each of the military regions across the country. The Office Of the Provost Marshal (Army) was assigned responsibilty for the operation of these institutions in accordance with the provisions of Appendix 16, (Vol 2) of the Queen's Regulations for each of the three services (Navy / Army / Air Force). A Service Detainee was incarcerated in the SDB either by order of his Commanding Officer, Superior Commander or Courts Martial, upon being a awarded a sentence of a number of days of detention. Common sentences of detention were either 14 days / 30 days / 60 days or 90 days, depending upon the severity of the service offence and/or the detainee's past record. Service prisoners were awarded their Service Prison time by Courts Martial.

The SDBs were manned mainly by senior members (sergeants and above) of the Canadian Provost Corps. Upon being posted to an established position within an SDB, Provost personnel went to the Canadian Provost Corps School for custodial training. On completion of training they were awarded the military qualification of "Disciplinarian". The Disciplinarians supervised the detainees' daily routine which included: morning kit inspections, morning drill periods, classroom lectures on selected military topics, more drill periods and "bucket details", which encompassed the near continuous scrubbing down and waxing of the SDB floors. Detainees could not move or speak without the explicit permission of the supervising Disciplinarian who detainees referred to as "Staff". The whole intent of the daily routine in the SDB was to create an environment that would deter the detainee from ever wanting to return. Generally, it worked!

In the event a detainee became unruly, misbehaved, or was disrespectful towards the Disciplinarians, the Staff had at their disposal a system of internal corrective measures. A misdeamour charge report was submitted by the supervising Disciplinarian to the Commandant of the SDB who had the authority to award the Detainee a punishment. These punishments include the following: close confinement for any period not exceeding three days, No. 1 Diet, not to exceed three days and No. 2 Diet for a period not to exceed 21 days. Loss of certain privilages and forfeiture of marks earned towards remission in an amount not exceeding 112 could also be awarded.

During the Provost era a No.1 Diet consisted of the following: 14 ounces of bread a day and unrestricted quantities of water. When the Diet was awarded for more then three days, it consisted of alternate three-day periods of No. 1 Diet and normal ration scale. For example, at least three days of normal rations were served to the detainee following each three days on the Diet. However, the three days on normal rations did not count towards the inmates punishment. While undergoing a punishment of a No. 1 Diet the detainee was not required to attend drill parades or perform work details, and was not entitled to remission marks or to leave the cell except for two exercise periods of not less then 30 minute duration each day, nor was he entitled to privileges. He was required to be certified fit to undergo this punishment by a Medical Officer, both prior to commencement and daily thereafter.

No. 2 Diet was a little more nutritional, consisting of, bread and water for breakfast; peas and beans porridge with bread, water and 8 ounces of potatoes for lunch; and 7 ounces of bread and an unrestricted amount of water for supper.

The strict discipline enforced in the SDBs was such that even visiting "Provost Patrolmen" assigned to escort Service Detainees to the Detention Barracks always felt uncomfortable within the confines of the SDB. Having escorted many detainees to the SDB this Site's Administrator can attest to this fact. Upon entering the "Rotunda" (booking desk area), the escorting Provost Patrolman was scrutinized nearly as closely as the detainee. Most Provost Patrolman would heave a big sigh of relief when they were back outside the gates of the SDB, especially if they managed to leave without being accosted by the Provost "Regimental Sergeant Major" (RSM) of the SDB. You could rest assured that, if you met the "RSM", a lecture on your own dress and deportment was forthcoming.

The rigid discipline enforced in the SDB created a highly effective rehabilitation institution, indicated by the limited number of repeat offenders. Most soldiers who served time in a SDB, regardless of their physical and mental threshsolds, had no desire to return. In fact, many soldiers who did detention time went on to receive promotions and have very successful military careers.

* * * The End * * *