Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (Sept. 2015)
The Saskatchewan government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) has expressed disbelief at the provincial government’s reported unawareness of the problem of overcrowding and violence in the province’s correctional centres.
The union’s reaction come on the heels of a news article, published on August 12, 2015, in the Star-Phoenix which reported that Saskatchewan’s Minister Responsible for Corrections and Policing, Christine Tell, had initiated an investigation into inhumane conditions in the provinces prisons. Tell’s announcement was a response to a letter to the Sun-Phoenix written by Saskatoon Correctional Centre (SCC) inmate Cory Cardinal – and signed by 15 other inmates as well as him – detailing the conditions of the prison. Cardinal claimed that the SCC was so overcrowded that prisoners often had to urinate in milk jugs and Styrofoam cups or on the floor due to unavailable toilet facilities.
The union claims that the province’s jails are facing “Crisis-level conditions” and urges the government to take immediate action. “We have spoken out again and again about the dangerously over-crowded conditions in correction centres,” SGEU president Bob Bymoen says in a statement dated August 19, 2015. “Instead of acting, the government has delayed the opening of facilities in Prince Albert and at Besnard Lake. They also cancelled an approved remand centre for Saskatoon, which has contributed to the severe overcrowding in all facilities.
The SGEU previously warned about prison overcrowding in July 2014, following a gang fight that has resulted in stabbing injuries at the SCC.”
“The concerns raised are not new – they have been raised repeatedly,” says Bonnie McRae, SGEU’s legal inspection and regulatory chair. “This investigation needs to be done quickly to address a situation that remains inhumane for inmates and unsafe for correctional workers and communities.”
Can the reader read between the lines. MONEY! Here we have a government pretending not to know about the dangerously overcrowded prison system. It would cost too much to add more correction centres.
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