Sask. prosecutions moves to get remanded non-violent inmates out of jail to combat COVID-19

The province is moving to get non-violent inmates on remand out of jail due to concerned about the spread of COVID-19.

Prosecutors reviewing recent cases and all new arrests

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the province wants non-violent inmates who are currently on remand out of jail. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Saskatchewan prosecutions is moving to get remanded non-violent inmates out of the province's jails.

It's also instructing prosecutors to review all new arrests with an eye to keeping non-violent accused out of jail. Both orders are a response to fears about the COVID-19 coronavirus getting into the jail system.

"As new arrests come in, they will be assessed with the COVID-19 situation and the situation in the correctional centres in mind," assistant deputy attorney general Anthony Gerein said at a briefing Friday.

"But we will also be assessing people who are currently on remand to determine whether or not there should be any change to their status."

Gerein said he did not know how many inmates could eventually be released. In recent years, the number of people in jail on remand — charged, but still waiting for their case to be resolved — has increased to half the jail population, according to figures from Corrections and Policing.

This response from Saskatchewan prosecutions mirrors recent decisions from the courts.

The Court of Appeal, Court of Queen's Bench and Provincial Court have all dramatically cut back on operations. 

About the Author

Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.