North Slave Correctional Centre

The North Slave Correctional Centre in Yellowknife, N.W.T. (CBC)

The MLA for Yellowknife Centre is calling on the territorial government to change its policies for how it deals with people on the lam, after an inmate didn't return to the North Slave Correctional Centre from a temporary absence to go to work.

RCMP arrested the man on May 2, about a week after he was supposed to return to jail.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins says Corrections should have informed the public, and published his name in case people saw him in the community.

“I don't know what this person's history is,” Hawkins says.

“When I found this out it made me worry. What if this person has had violence against women and we weren't informing through the proper channels, be it media, news releases, whatever means makes sense. Yet we're left in the dark. We don't need to tell you for confidential reasons. We'll just leave it for the RCMP to figure out if they want to do that or not.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice says they can't talk about specific cases due to privacy laws.

Under the territory's Corrections Act, the department must report inmates at large to RCMP.  

The RCMP says the inmate who was at large last week was not a threat to public safety.

They say they don't send out news releases when someone who is not a high risk to the public is on the lam.

Grant Reeves has been charged with being unlawfully at large. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Corrections defends temporary absence program

The Department of Corrections maintains that this is a rare incident, and says its temporary absence program for inmates is successful. 

Inmates in the program are able to leave the jail during the day for work assignments or community programs.

In an email, the director of corrections, Monty Bourke, says inmates must go through intense screening to qualify.

Bourke says in the last seven years, there has only been one inmate that didn't return from their leave.

Last year, 81 inmates participated without incident.

He says the program is important to help offenders slowly reintegrate into society.