Saskatoon

Online petition asks Sask. gov't to divert $120M remand centre money to social issues at root of incarceration

"We believe that our communities are safer and more productive when we look at systemic poverty and homelessness," Saskatoon chapter of Elizabeth Fry Society says.

'Communities are safer and more productive when we look at systemic poverty and homelessness'

"We believe that our communities are safer and more productive when we look at systemic poverty and homelessness," Saskatoon chapter of Elizabeth Fry Society says. (CBC)

Over a thousand people have signed an online petition asking the Saskatchewan government to rethink its plan to spend $120 million on a new remand centre in Saskatoon.

The local chapter of the Elizabeth Fry Society, which works with incarcerated people, says the money would be better spent on the underlying social issues that land people in jail in the first place.

"We believe that our communities are safer and more productive when we look at systemic poverty and homelessness and racism and lack of mental health and addiction support," said Sandra Stack, the chapter's executive director. "We believe that that money could be expanded and put better served into our community."

The province should be spending the money to reduce poverty and housing instability, said Patty Tait, a culture director with the society.

"If we could provide those kinds of resources in the community for people, they would never have to be staying for up to a year and sometimes longer in custody before they have ever been convicted of a crime," Tait said, adding that remand inmates don't receive programming.

The online petition at change.org had garnered 1,137 signatures as of Thursday morning. 

The Ministry of Justice has said the extra space for 427 people will allow the corrections service to keep members of rival gangs segregated.

Construction is expected to begin next year. 

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

with files from Saskatoon Morning

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