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Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre’s appalling conditions

June 1st, 2016 | by Richard Paul
Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre’s appalling conditions
Business and Finance

Jail recommendations don’t go far enough: Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa

Karin Stein, vice-president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, says the recommendations don’t address the “over-reliance” of sureties.

“A provincial task force released sweeping recommendations Wednesday for the province to fix overcrowding at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, but some critics say that they don’t go far enough to result in real change.

The 42 recommendations in the report, announced by Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi, are seen as a positive step in fixing chronic problems at the jail, including health care, overuse of segregation and poor food.” says Metro news in Ottawa regarding the conditions at the OCDC.

Of course these conditions which have been building up now for years are being shelved time and time again while our prison population is growing more and more dire. And people are numbed because of the idea that prisoners are enjoying a Club Med atmosphere within prison walls. The report listed some of its recommendations in consultation with various affected parties. Notably present was;

In developing its recommendations, the Task Force consulted with the following stakeholders:

    •  Correctional Service of Canada
    •  Ministry of the Attorney General (Criminal Law Division)
    •  Chief Justice of Ontario
    •  Ottawa Police Service
    •  Ontario Provincial Police
    •  The Local Bail Committee Representative for the Ottawa Crown
    •  Ontario Parole Board
    •  Probation Officers Association of Ontario
    •  John Howard Society of OttawaD

But according to Diane Condo, Ottawa senior criminal lawyer, “The prison conditions at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention centre are nothing short of becoming third world country conditions” Senior counsel Diane Condo has numerous clients within the prison walls who repeatedly encounter lock downs and the deplorable conditions within those walls. Some who have come from out of province are appalled at the conditions compared to the detention centres in Quebec, for example.

Consequently it may be said that any government which treats it’s prisoners poorly will inevitably start treating it’s taxpayers likewise.With disregard to the plight of the people.

According to the report;

Common Themes:

  •  53% of the inmates felt that the bail and remand system needs to be improved in order to address the capacity issues at OCDC.
  • 79% of the inmates who responded to the questionnaire had spent time in segregation. Of those inmates who spent time in segregation, 30% requested to be housed in segregation and 70% were placed in segregation for a variety of reasons.

A number of those inmates in segregation had varied experiences but the concerns were reflective of inmate complaints tracked by Office of the Ontario Ombudsman which included a lack of programing, limited access to health care and conditions of confinement.

66% of the inmates felt they needed both more health care services and improved quality of care.

The top three health care services female inmates felt needed improvement were increased access to doctors, better access and accuracy of medical prescriptions and increased addiction supports.

For male inmates it was better dental care, increased addiction supports and increased mental health care supports.

On safety related concerns, 34% of inmates were concerned about the potential of disease and 51% felt the cleanliness of the institution should be improved.

Movement of Inmates

OCDC recently took action to reduce the inmate population by transferring out sentenced inmates and a limited number of those on long term remand. As a result, inmates were asked if this movement made a difference for them and if they would transfer out of OCDC if given the option.

  •  54% of male inmates that responded felt that the movement of inmates made a positive difference for them and 46% did not due to conditions of confinement.
  •  92% of female inmates that responded felt that the movement did not make a difference and 8% said it did make a difference.
  • For those male inmates that responded, 47% would transfer out of OCDC if given the option and 53% would not. Of those that declined, a majority said they did not want to be moved away from their family.
  • For those female inmates that responded, 63% of female inmates would agree to a transfer out of OCDC and 26% would not. Similar to the male response, most declined due to family reasons.

Yet, as Vikki Blair states. “My responsibility is public safety. Their (defence lawyers) responsibility is supporting the accused. We’ve come together at this task force to see what common ground we can find,” Bair told reporters after the announcement.

“It doesn’t change the fact the Crown is primarily responsible to ensure public safety. It doesn’t change the fact that we do that in a sympathetic, responsible way – as far as I’m concerned – every day.”

Yea, okay Vikki. Aren’t they cutting your budget too?

by Richard Paul



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