Alberta Justice has closed a jail for aboriginal offenders after concluding the southern Alberta facility was under-utilized.
The Kainai Correctional Centre in Standoff, about 60 kilometres southwest of Lethbridge, had 24 beds.
But according to Alberta Justice, the facility — which received $1.1 million in provincial funding last year — usually housed an average of just seven inmates.
The jail closed on April 1, resulting in 12 job losses.
Rick Soup, who has worked at the jail on Kainai Nation since it opened 25 years ago, said its closure is a real loss.
“It was a very unique set up, being the first of its kind, you know, run by native organizations. We're aware of the unique needs ... circumstances of aboriginal offenders,” he said.
"The number of aboriginal offenders in the province percentage-wise is 37 per cent aboriginal, so we had programs designed to work with them."
The province says the security threshold has changed for jails, resulting in fewer minimum security inmates.
Alberta Justice says minimum security aboriginal offenders will now go to the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, which has native programming.
Provincial officials are working with the Blood Tribe to come up with a new use for the facility.