Inmate transport policy map
A violent 2012 crash in northern New Brunswick saw a Sheriff's Services van slide off an icy highway and flip three times over an embankment. Five people on board were injured. Before the van pulled out from the jail that day, one of the Sheriff's Officers warned the roads were bad and recommended the cuffed & shackled inmates buckle up.
A CBC News investigation has uncovered there is no policy in N.B. mandating the use of seatbelts, nor a policy about safe transport in bad weather. N.B. isn't the only one with lax or absent policies.
Click on the icons below to learn about inmate transport rules in your province & across Canada.
Posted: Dec 10, 2013
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|Newfoundland & Labrador|
Inmates outside St. John’s are required to be belted in.
With regards to the transport of inmates, Newfoundland and Labrador has a vehicle that has seat belts for everyone for transfers that take place outside the St. John’s metropolitan area. For those inmates from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary being transported within the St. John’s area, vehicles are not equipped with seatbelts (similar situation to school buses).Weather:
With regards to adverse weather, officials adhere to safety advisories that are issued by local police services or through the government’s Department of Transportation and Works. Depending on the advisory, a decision would then be made regarding whether or not inmates will be transferred on that particular day. Of course, the safety of inmates and staff is of utmost importance.
-2013 11 22 Emails from NL Department of Justice representative
In poor weather conditions, transport is at the discretion of the local sheriff. Sheriffs monitor weather conditions and highway reports, and take caution not to put anyone at risk.Weather:
Transport vans are not equipped with seat belts.
- 2013 11 22 Email from NS Department of Justice representative
|Prince Edward Island|
Seatbelts are used in transport inmates. It is mandatory.Weather:
There is no written policy on transporting inmates in bad weather... but if it is bad, court is normally cancelled.
- 2013 11 22 Emails from PEI Department of Environment, Labour and Justice representative
No written policy in place. “...Seat belts are provided for all detainees. In the case of adult detainees, the sheriff’s officers can only recommend that they be worn. The detainees may choose not to wear them, if that is their preference.”
- 2013 04 30 Email from Department of Justice RepresentativeWeather:
No policy in place
Security vans used by the Department of Public Safety to transport prisoners are not equipped with safety belts in the sections used by prisoners.Weather:
Correctional officers assigned to transport prisoners must respect the Quebec road safety code, which holds that the driver of a vehicle must reduce speed when there is insufficient visibility due to darkness, fog, rain, or other precipitation, or when the road is slippery or not cleared.
-2013 11 22 Email from Ministère de la Sécurité publique
Vans not equippedWeather:
WINTER TRAVEL POLICY
DATE JULY 1996/REVISED NOVEMBER 2011 SECTION 2
- 4.1 Inclement weather or travel conditions in Manitoba may result in reduced, restricted or cancelled travel.
- 4.2 Sheriff’s Officers are required to travel in all types of winter driving conditions due to court and security requirements.
- 4.3 Discretionary travel should be postponed when the Department of Highways issues travel advisories warning against discretionary travel.
- Road Closure
- 4.4 The RCMP will close highways if visibility is reduced to 250 metres or ¼ kilometre or less.
4.5 Travel conditions that result in road closure are:
- a. Reduced visibility: · Blowing snow · Heavy snowfalls · Ice fog
- b. Impassible roads: · Drifting or drifted snow · Ice or sleet (or in combination)
- Cold/Extreme Cold Weather
- 4.6 The local Sheriff has the authority to cancel prisoner escorts/runs due to cold weather.
- 4.7 Safety of all Officers and prisoners is the primary concern.
- 4.8 The RCMP do not close highways due to cold weather.
4.9 Local factors are the best means of determining the advisability of cancelling travel/runs due to extreme cold weather. These factors include but are not limited to:
- a. Distance;
- b. Destination;
- c. Isolation or remoteness;
- d. Local traffic volumes and conditions (i.e. normal traffic in area, no local traffic);
- e. Potential for cold weather induced breakdowns;
- f. Risk to staff and prisoners in the event of a breakdown;
- 4.10 Conditions frequently vary between areas with the result of one local office cancelling travel due to cold weather while another local office does not.
- 4.11 Due to cold weather, cancellation of travel does not make for an automatic justification for travel cancellation in another area.
- Cold Weather Travel Considerations
- 4.12 Safe cold weather driving is common sense.
- 4.13 All escort vehicles must be equipped with winter fronts.
- 4.14 All escort vehicles must be equipped with authorized survival equipment.
- 4.15 All escort vehicles must be properly maintained as per the Vehicle policy.
- 4.16 Travel shall not be attempted unless there is adequate survival equipment sufficient for all persons in each vehicle (both staff and prisoners).
- 4.17 All persons must be properly attired for cold weather conditions (both staff and prisoners).
- Officer Initiated Cancelled Travel
- 4.18 Safety of Officers and prisoners is the primary consideration when cancelled travel.
4.19 The following dictate the circumstances when travel must be cancelled:
- Road Closures – RCMP closes the highways in the area of travel.
- Road Conditions – Visibility reduced to below 250 metres/¼ of a kilometre or the roads are impassable because of snow or ice.
- Court cancellation – Court cancellation by the presiding judge.
- Extreme Cold Temperatures - When travel cancelled by local Sheriff.
- 4.20 When hazardous winter driving conditions exist prior to scheduled travel or develop while en route or at a pick–up point/circuit court location, the Senior Officer may cancel/defer that travel.
- 4.21 The Senior Officer shall, as soon as is possible, contact both the local headquarters and the destination facility to advise that travel has been deferred.
- 4.22 The local headquarters and Senior Officer will in consultation, determine the most appropriate course of action.
- 4.23 Liaison There shall be immediate liaison between Sheriff's Offices when a meet is cancelled as well as ongoing liaison between the sheriff, the judiciary, the court office and the crown regarding cancelled winter travel.
- 4.24 The local Sheriff shall be the central liaison. They are to be contacted by all parties when the court is cancelled due to weather and/or cold temperatures.
- 4.25 When the Sheriff’s Officer is first to determine travel conditions prevent safe travel, he/she or the Senior Officer shall contact the local Sheriff immediately.
- 4.26 In the event that a prisoner escort run is cancelled due to weather, the cancellation is to be reported to the Executive Director via the normal chain of command.
- Incident Report
- 4.27 When travel is deferred / cancelled due to conditions identified in this policy, the person cancelling the run shall complete an Incident Report.
- 4.28 The circumstances dictating/justifying the decision to cancel travel shall be identified and included in the Incident Report.
- Court Ordered Cancelled Travel
- 4.29 Officers shall follow the Provincial Court of Manitoba Cancellation of Circuit Courts due to Inclement Weather Policy.
-2013 11 25 Email from Manitoba Justice Department representative
Outside urban areas: Prisoner transports are conducted by the RCMP. These are its policies:Seatbelts:
Vehicles are not equipped with seatbelts.Weather:
Travel in bad weather is determined according to Department of Highways & Transportation weather warnings and advisories.
-2013 12 03 Interview with RCMP Saskatchewan representative
Our prisoner transport vehicles are not equipped with seatbelts. They are not legislated and also could pose a security concern when dealing with potentially volatile people as prisoners could tamper with the seat belt and convert it to a weapon or use it for self harm.Weather:
Sheriffs do not have a formal policy in regards to transporting inmates when there is inclement weather and / or poor road conditions. Our practice however is to rely on police and road reports, such as the AMA road reports and road cameras, to determine road conditions across the province prior to escort teams being dispatched to conduct transports. If supervisors feel the weather / road conditions are such that it poses an unsafe condition for both the sheriffs and the prisoners, the transports are cancelled and Correctional Centres and Courts are advised.
We also rely on the Sheriffs to determine if the road conditions preclude conducting safe transports. If the Sheriff driver feels the weather / road conditions are unsafe they have the ability to cancel the run and return to their base.
All of our prisoner escort vehicles are equipped with winter tires and are serviced and checked to a standard higher than what is legislated. All our vehicles are also equipped with multiple communication devices should a Sheriff encounter any difficulties.
- 2013 11 22 Email from AB Justice & Solicitor General Representative
Seat belts are not provided in the in-custody compartments of escort vehicles as they can be used as weapons for self abuse, for injury to other prisoners, and for injury to escorting deputy sheriffs. Seat belts can be used to open handcuffs and therefore represent a significant security risk. Using seat belts would expose deputy sheriffs to potential injury if staff were required to crawl or enter the rear passenger compartments of escort vehicles to buckle/unbuckle handcuffed prisoners. Seat belts may also be the target of vandalism thereby rendering them useless.Weather:
Sheriff Services within Court Services Branch has the following policy regarding transporting individuals in custody in poor weather:
- * Some of the precautions taken when driving prisoner escort vehicles in wintery conditions include the use of all wheel drive vehicles where available and the deployment of studded snow tires.
- * All B.C. sheriffs possess a class 4 driver's licence and emergency driving instruction forms part of their 10 week initial training at the time of hire as a deputy sheriff.
- * Winter jackets/parkas and blankets are provided for individuals in custody in the event of accident or vehicle breakdown.
- * Ground escorts are cancelled where severe road conditions jeopardize the health and safety of individuals in custody and staff. Air escorts are sometimes used as an alternative.
- 2013 11 22 Email from BC Ministry of Justice
Outside major urban areas, prisoner transports are conducted by the Ontario Provincial Police Offender Transport Unit. Its policies:Seatbelts:
There are no seatbelts in the prisoner compartments.Weather:
Prisoner transportation units maintain communication with Court Services located in the Courthouses in the event that the court is closed due to weather.
-2013 11 28 Email from Ontario Provincial Police representative