Police charge two inmates following alleged attack on correctional officers at Toronto jail

Changes to disciplinary options blamed for rising number of assaults against correctional officers

Union blames changes to segregation protocols for reported rise in guard assaults

Correctional officers at the Toronto South Detention Centre say they were assaulted while they tried to lock two inmates into their cell on April 25.

Police have charged two inmates following an alleged attack on correctional officers at the Toronto South Detention Centre on April 25. 

Christopher Lucas and Quintin Richards together face four charges, including assault, and will appear before a judge on Wednesday.

Both are already in custody in the detention centre.

The inmates are alleged to have assaulted "pretty seriously" two correctional guards as they tried to lock the inmates back into their cell, according to Gordon Cobb, vice president of OPSEU local 5112, which represents correctional officers.

Both officers had to be sent to hospital the morning of April 25, one with a broken nose.

A third officer was sent home after suffering trauma from witnessing the alleged event, Cobb told CBC.

"As far as I'm aware right now, the people will be off an extended period of time due to the nature of the injuries," said Cobb.

The inmates were already being housed in a "special handling unit" for inmates accused in previous assaults on staff. 

The correctional officers entered the day area of the unit to lock the inmates back in their cells when the union alleges the inmates attacked the officers.

Unprecedented number of assaults

The assaults come as the number of injuries sustained by correctional officers reaches unprecedented numbers across Ontario, according to the most recent statistics from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Toronto correctional officers have also been maintaining their own figures, suggesting there have been 44 assaults, and 9 attempted assaults on officers since January.

Last February, about 100 correctional officers at the Toronto South Detention Centre and another 75 at the Central East Correctional Centre walked off the job for several hours, citing dangerous working conditions.

The union representing them blames recent changes to segregation rules that it says no longer make it a viable disciplinary option to dissuade violent offenders.

"There is no deterrence there," said Cobb, referring to the new limit to stays in segregation at 15 days.

Assaulting a guard a 'badge of honour'

"They see it as a badge of honour to attack a staff member," said Cobb, noting segregation now includes privileges like television, telephone calls and increased time outside their cells.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services confirmed its concern over the attack last week, but the minister's press secretary, Dorijan Najdovski, said in a statement that segregation will be phased out as it modernizes the province's jail system and provides "appropriate alternatives.

"Our government continues to work closely with our frontline staff and other partners as we transform Ontario's correctional system," he wrote. 

But Cobb said jails need those alternatives now to prevent more injuries.