Remands like Windsor Jail worse than pen
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Following the incident, a local judge refused to sentence another prisoner to weekend remand because of the jail’s notorious threat of violence.
Jones said federal institutions are “so much better” because they are less crowded and offer programs which deal with one of the major causes of prisoner violence, drug addiction.
“These are not places where they have unlimited resources,” he said.
“And as the remand population increases what resources they have...are stretched that much thinner.”
He says he’s not sure if the government keeps statistics on jail violence “but they would be reluctant to make it public because it would be deeply embarrassing...that they can’t control the environment in which they incarcerate people.”
An official with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services did not return a request for comment.
Jones says a variety of factors have created overcrowding, mainly administrative delays in the court system.
He recently testified before the federal Senate that the “greatest problem was the time it was taking for police forces to release evidence to prosecutors, then having to disclose to defence attorneys in the process of running up to trial.”
Jones said many of the prisoners have drug addictions.
If they cannot obtain a “conduit” for drugs they go into “forced detoxification” – or cold turkey – which can result in a “whole range of behavioural problems.”
And Jones said the reason many of these people use drugs is because they have a mental health disorder, which also is not being treated.
“Put these two elements together,” in an overcrowded restless environment, and “you have a really volatile” situation.
He said many jails put three prisoners to a cell with one sleeping on the floor.
“People are just packed into the ranges,” he said.
“And they stink. The first thing that hits you in the face when you go into a remand centre is how bad the air is.”
Skip Graham, executive director of St. Leonard’s House in Windsor, which works to integrate offenders after release, says Windsor Jail is an old building “that just isn’t designed in terms of a lot of the security aspects.”