Edmonton's super jail set to open
The largest and most advanced jail in Canada is about to open for business in Edmonton, but some say its size will make it difficult to manage.
The first 1,400 of almost 2,000 inmates are set to move into the new Edmonton Remand Centre this spring.
"When you have something that large, it just feels there are more nooks and crannies where things can go wrong," said Clarke McChesney, who speaks for the guards' union.
However, the province said the jail will be safer for guards and will reduce pressure on the court system.
The $580-million jail is built around the concept of direct supervision where there are no barriers separating guards from the majority of the prisoners.
Newer correctional facilities use direct supervision as it's believed to be more effective as inmates and guards can develop a rapport.
"It's something that we are going to have to get used to. It puts the officers face to face with the inmates," said Jeremy Veenstra, with correctional services.
While inmates will be closer to guards, it's a different story when it comes to family.
Those visits will be done largely by video conferencing, although prisoners staying longer than 60 days can apply for visits through glass windows.
"I think by doing this in a virtual way is dehumanizing," said criminologist Justin Piche, who believes human contact boosts morale.
Officials hope the video visits will cut down on smuggling while allowing for greater number of visits — more than 1,400 visits per day.
Prisoners will also use video links to make court appearances.
It's hoped the centre's 53 video screens connected directly to the court house will reduce pressure on courts and prisoner transfer time.
With files from CBC's Briar Stewart and Silvana Benolich