Nunavut jails can't provide prisoners rehabilitative programs

Nunavut's Department of Justice says it doesn't have the 'proper staffing, relevant training and adequate infrastructure,' to deliver rehabilitative programming to prisoners in the territory's corrections system.

Lack 'proper staffing, relevant training and adequate infrastructure,' inhibits programming

Baffin Correctional Centre director of corrections JP Deroy checks out a cell to be renovated at the detention centre. Last year the jail was 164 per cent over capacity. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
  Nunavut's Department of Justice says it doesn't have the "proper staffing, relevant training and adequate infrastructure" to deliver rehabilitative programming to prisoners in the territory's corrections system.
  That admission was part of a response by the Justice department to a damning 2015  Auditor General's report that slammed the territory's corrections facilities for overcrowding, underserving and unreasonably risking the safety and security of inmates and staff.

  Nunavut's standing committee on oversight of government operations issued a series of recommendations based on the report last spring. The Department of Justice has responded to those recommendations in a 23-page written document tabled in the legislature Oct. 29.

  "Rehabilitative programming can not be delivered without proper staffing, relevant training and adequate infrastructure," justice officials wrote. "These needs must be addressed before the Department of Justice can implement and review programming." 

  The territory's inability to implement rehabilitative programming is a big problem, says Catherine Latimer, the executive director of the John Howard Society, an organization that advocates for the just and humane treatment of prisoners.

  "If there is no rehabilitative programming it goes against the whole notion of what corrections are in the Canadian context," she said. 

"People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment... If there is no programming you are effectively simply warehousing prisoners."

Nunavut jails essentially 'schools of crime'

In 2013-2014 Nunavut's largest jail, the Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit, housed as many as 108 people in a facility with a 66-bed capacity. 

  That kind of overcrowding, Latimer explains, in combination with little to no programming, means Nunavut's jails are essentially "schools of crime" and that prisoners returning from incarceration are likely to re-offend. 

  To address these issues, the Department of Justice is planning an estimated $67 million long-term renovation to BCC. The renovation, they say, will provide much needed capacity to house the maximum security prisoners as well as free up space for programming. 

  Corrections is also in the midst of a 'comprehensive staffing review,' which they say will allow them to better understand their "capacity for program delivery and ability to provide mandated services to inmates." 


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