Concerns raised about new remand centre

An Edmonton lawyer said that he was able to walk into the new Edmonton Remand Centre through a staff entrance on Monday night.
Inmates were moved to the new remand centre earlier this month. (CBC)

An Edmonton lawyer said that he was able to walk into the new Edmonton Remand Centre through the staff entrance on Monday night.

Darin Sprake went to the centre to talk to his client who is testifying at the Bosco Homes murder trial and unwittingly entered into what appeared to be an area for staff.

"I don't know how secure the area that I got into was, but certainly I didn't feel comfortable where I was because clearly I wasn't intended to be there," Sprake said on Tuesday.

Finally a nurse came through the doors and showed him where to go. But no one from the security staff approached him, he said.

Justice officials said that the door leads to a vestibule and Sprake still would have had to pass through security to get to the area where the prisoners are housed.

But Sprake's problems didn't end there. He said that corrections staff didn't know how to operate security scanning equipment and it took more than an hour to find his client due to problems with the computer system.

"My experience last night certainly was disappointing and unexpected," Sprake said.

"And if it was a concern with respect to growing pains, it would seem to me with the amount of money spent on that facility that those growing pains should have been addressed before they loaded it up with the number of inmates that are there now."  

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis says his staff is looking into Sprake’s complaint but says he is satisfied with security at the centre.

"Absolutely," he said. "It is a very secure facility and one of the most high-tech in the country."

Inmates were moved from the old remand centre about ten days ago, shortly after the government brushed off concerns raised by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees about unresolved safety problems at the new centre.