Nova Scotia

Burnside lockdown enters fourth day; no end in sight

A lockdown at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside entered its fourth day Friday.

Guards searching for drugs and weapons

Inmates are locked into their cells 24 hours a day, apart from showers and lawyer appointments.

A lockdown at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside entered its fourth day Friday.

It’s the longest lockdown since the facility opened in 2001, and the province won’t say when it will end. The prison's 313 male inmates and 41 female inmates are under tighter restrictions, although some inmates were allowed to make a personal phone call Friday.

The prison has 200 staff, excluding support staff like maintanance and custodial. 

Otherwise, the prisoners are kept in their cell around the clock, only leaving to see their lawyer or to shower. No family visits are permitted. 

It'll be over when it's over.- Sean Kelly, director of correctional services

Sean Kelly, Nova Scotia’s director of correctional services, said the lockdown was planned. It started Tuesday morning and is supposed to permit a deep search for makeshift weapons and contraband drugs.

Both have been widely reported problems in the Burnside jail over the past two years. They’ve been blamed for assaults on guards and inmates, and smuggling charges.

Kelly says the lockdown was not triggered by an act of violence, and that it wasn’t out of the ordinary.

“We decided to actually do a complete and thorough search and look at absolutely everything, from the cleanliness procedures to the security procedures,” he said. “Public safety is the first and foremost priority, starting with staff safety.”

Weapons found

Guards have found some homemade weapons that could be used as knives but so far no drugs. Inmates are also being required to spend time cleaning their cells, after reports they were unsanitary.

“It’ll be over when it’s over,” he said.

Kelly said the decision to restrict the movement of inmates for such a lengthy period of time has nothing to do with staffing levels at the facility, which he says are adequate. 

Kelly said contingency plans are in place to accept and house inmates who will arrive later Friday to begin serving their intermittent sentences during the weekend.