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Snow limits inmates' outdoor time at Baffin Correctional Centre

The buildup of snow after storms has resulted in limited outdoor time for inmates due to security concerns, says the Nunavut Justice Department. The government is working on planning renovations for the aging facility and a new new low-security jail will open this year.

Access to the yard restricted due to security concerns, says Nunavut Justice Department

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      The Nunavut Justice Department is responding to concerns from inmates at the Baffin Correctional Centre who say guards have been restricting their access to fresh air and recreation.

      Chris Stewart, manager of capital and special projects, says inmates often can't be active in the jail’s yard after a storm when snow builds up.

      “During this time of year, access to the yard is somewhat limited due to security concerns. However, we’re really looking forward to being able to use the yards on the new facility as they’re much more secure and safe for both staff and offenders.”

      The new Makigiarvik Correctional Centre is set to open later this year. The minimum-security facility is beside the existing jail.

      Stewart say inmates currently get at least an hour a day in the gymnasium, which now has new exercise equipment.

      He also responded to complaints from inmates that they were no longer able to play board games.

      Stewart says guards don't want inmates playing games during the day because that's when the prison has the most programming available, including the men's group and school. He says they can play board games during the evening.  

      He also says when inmates come to the jail they get a handbook outlining their rights. They can bring up any concerns with the warden and the director of corrections or write to their MLA.

      Renovation proposal underway

      Meanwhile, the Justice Department is writing a proposal about what to do with the aging facility.

      Stewart says his department is considering a number of options from renovations, to completely remodelling and rebuilding the jail.

      He says it's too early to say what would be the most likely option.

      "An option will be chosen to significantly improve the quality of care and quality of safety and security for the staff and offenders who spend most of their time there."

      The correctional centre was originally built as a minimum-security facility in 1984. It was upgraded two years later to accommodate medium-security inmates.

      In recent years, it has been plagued by overcrowding and other problems

      Many officials have raised concerns, from the Nunavut fire marshal to Canada's auditor general.

      Stewart says the proposal on what to do with the centre should be completed by April.

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