Nova Scotia

Inmate says conditions in Burnside jail 'absolutely horrid' during heat wave

Only parts of Nova Scotia's largest jail have air conditioning, leaving some inmates with few options to beat the heat. The head of corrections says air conditioning is being extended to other parts of the facility during renovations.

Corrections says air conditioning will be extended to parts of Nova Scotia's largest jail

Renovations at Nova Scotia’s largest jail will finally bring air conditioning to the wing that houses women offenders. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

An inmate at Nova Scotia's largest jail says offenders have few options when it comes to beating the heat.

"We are stifling in here," Anne Boardmore said in a phone interview Wednesday from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside. "The last two weeks it's been absolutely horrid."

Nova Scotia, like most parts of the country, has been experiencing heat-wave conditions with high temperatures and humidity.

Boardmore said conditions at the jail are at least as bad as the same time last year, and there seem to be few remedies other than inmates being given extra jugs of cold water to drink.

She and other inmates want corrections officials to get more cool air into the jail, which has the capacity to house about 300 inmates and employs about 300 staff.

That should happen soon.

Sean Kelly, director of correctional services for the province, said the jail has an air handling system that brings in fresh air from outdoors, but on summer days that air is hot and humid.

"Although you're getting fresh air, it's not actually cooled air that's coming into the facility," he said. "We're operating on the systems that were [part of] the original install. It's the same story every year at this time of year."

While some portions of the building are equipped with air conditioning, the wing of the jail where women offenders are housed is not. Kelly said renovations now underway at Burnside include bringing air conditioning to that section of the jail.

"The units will be installed by the end of this month."

Boardmore, who said she has almost 20 years of experience in the corrections system on account of drug problems, said the current conditions are as bad as she's experienced in a jail.

"I have never, ever been in a situation like this one."

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