North

N.W.T. releases 15 prisoners over COVID-19 concerns

The Northwest Territories government says it has released 15 prisoners over concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 in territorial jails.

All inmates released had less than three months left on their sentences

A cell at the North Slave Correctional Centre. The territorial government says 15 inmates — all with less than three months left on their sentences — have been granted temporary absences. (Pat Kane)

The Northwest Territories government says it has released 15 prisoners over concerns about the possible spread of COVID-19 in territorial jails.

On April 7, the government announced the temporary release of seven inmates who had less than three months left on their sentences. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed another eight have since been released.

Sue Glowach, a spokesperson for the government, says there were several conditions considered when choosing which inmates would be released, such as whether they had completed reintegration plans and risk assessments.

In a previous statement, Justice Minister Caroline Wawzonek said she was working with prosecutors to ensure only those considered a threat to public safety would be taken into remand.

Wawzonek also stated they were reviewing those already in remand to see if anybody could be eligible for an interim release and bail package.

Concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Canadian prisons has continued to grow ever since inmates in a Quebec jail were found to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

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