Monteith inmate tests positive for COVID-19 as Ministry begins slow release of low-risk offenders
Slow release of low-risk offenders, or those near the end of their sentence, aims to help curb COVID-19 spread
The Ministry of the Solicitor General said it expects to release more inmates from facilities across the province in an effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
The Porcupine Health Unit confirmed that one person from the Monteith Correctional Complex in Iroquois Falls tested positive.
In an email, the health unit said it was working with Monteith to follow COVID-10 protocols.
"They have provided appropriate isolation of the individual and continue to work with the PHU team for the extensive investigation and follow up process," the health unit said.
"We will determine further directions and communications as needed and share as appropriate."
The inmates that will likely be released are not high-risk offenders, Kristy Denette, a spokesperson for the ministry said.
"The ministry has also given temporary absence passes to intermittent offenders, who would normally spend weekends in custody," Denette said in an email.
""In addition to intermittent inmates, longer-term temporary absences will allow for early release of those inmates who are close to the end of their sentence," she said.
Since March 16, the ministry has reduced the population of northern facilities from 1,025 to 733. In the same period, these measures have reduced the population at all facilities across Ontario from 8,344 to 6,152, the ministry said.
The ministry still reviews any application for early release and determines their eligibility.
"Inmates chosen must be near the end of their sentences, be considered a low risk to reoffend and not convicted of serious crimes," Denette said.
Sara Berghammer, the CEO of Sudbury's John Howard Society, said her organization is applauding the ministry's move.
And the decision should not elicit any public concern, she said.
"People that are low risk to offend, or are in custody because of low level crimes like property crimes, mischief or theft...they can be released into the community and still have their day in court in a couple of months down the road when things hopefully settle down with this pandemic," she said.
And their release would not come carte blanche.
"They could be monitored either electronically or we can have them sign in with a surety, someone who keeps an eye on them when they are released," Berghammer said.