(THUNDER BAY, ON) – OVERCROWDING CRISIS AT THUNDER BAY JAIL WORSENS AS VIOLENT CRIME RISES.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SAFETY CONTINUES TO BE A GROWING CONCERN AND NOW THE PUBLIC IS AT RISK.
Last week, the Inside Edition broke the story (see below) about the overcrowded Thunder Bay Jail causing significant safety concerns for the hardworking Correctional Officers of OPSEU Local 737.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE THEN?
Katherine Kinger, the Regional Director for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) has made some bold moves to try alleviate the situation. Kudos for her attempts at trying to manage this difficult situation.
OPSEU LOCAL 708 MEMBERS STEP UP TO HELP THE LOCAL 737.
Last weekend, several low risk remand inmates were carefully screened and transferred to the Thunder Bay Correctional Center. More remand inmates are being selected this week to go to the Correctional Center.
^^^THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE^^^
VISITATION WAS CANCELLED.
All visitation with inmates has been cancelled for the past 5 days. There are not enough staff to handle this.
UTILIZING ROOM NOT INTENDED FOR INCARCERATION.
The Thunder Bay Jail has incarcerated up to 6 inmates in the interview room. Lawyers have been unable to visit clients at the jail. Inmates are being housed in the visiting room as well as the admission/discharge room for the night.
THUNDER BAY POLICE STATION IS HOUSING REMAND INMATES.
The Thunder Bay Police Station in Balmoral is now housing 10 remand inmates. The Director of Communications at TBPS hasn’t told the public this. He might be at Starbucks sipping some of his beloved soy milk.
ANOTHER TRANSFER SOUTH COMING.
There will be another transfer of at least 12 long term remand inmates early next week to go to the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene.
COURTS RELEASING INMATES ON BAIL WITH LESS SCRUTINY THIS WEEK.
And now……there is an unofficial policy in the courts to release inmates who are not the highest risk to the public or victims.
THESE PROBLEMS ARE EXASPERATED BY THE GROWING VIOLENT CRIME RATE IN THUNDER BAY.
AS THE VIOLENT CRIME RATE GROWS, THE MORE VIOLENT CRIMINALS WILL BE RELEASED.
IT WILL ULTIMATELY WIND UP WITH ONLY THE WORST OF THE WORST BEING HELD.
MEANWHILE THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS and POLICE DO THEIR BEST TO STAY SAFE AND KEEP THE PUBLIC SAFE.
BUT IT’S GETTING TOUGHER EVERY DAY FOR THE FRONT LINE OFFICERS.
BIG THANKS TO ALL OF THE DEDICATED POLICE AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS FOR THEIR EFFORTS.
THE CURRENT RISE OF VIOLENT CRIME CANNOT BE SUSTAINED WITH THE CURRENT CORRECTIONAL MODEL
BIGGER CHANGES ARE REQUIRED
OFFICER SAFETY AT THE THUNDER BAY JAIL IS AT CRITICAL TIPPING POINT.
NEW INMATES ARE BEING VIOLENTLY ASSAULTED BY OTHER INMATES WHO DO NOT LIKE BEING OVERCROWDED AT THE 91 YEAR OLD JAIL.
INSIDE EDITION HAS LEARNED THAT A LETTER WAS SENT THIS MORNING TO MCSCS REGIONAL DIRECTOR KATHERINE KINGER REQUESTING LEADERSHIP AND ASSISTANCE ON THIS ISSUE.
Thursday March 14,2019
A letter was sent today to the Regional Director for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS).
The letter (see below) highlights the safety concerns from the front line Officers at the Thunder Bay Jail.
Quite simply, the Jail is over capacity and causing significant pressure and tension on staff and inmates alike.
The Thunder Bay Jail has been transferring some overflow of inmates to the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene.
Another round of inmates are scheduled to be transported to CNCC in about 10 days.
However, with the warmer weather in the city, it’s expected the already high crime rate will rise again soon.
The Kenora Jail is unable to accommodate any transfers as they are similarly overcrowded and had a hostage taking incident just last fall.
Many cells have 3 inmates in them. Upper bunk, lower bunk and mattress on floor by toilet.
Inside Edition has learned the Regional Director has not responded to this very urgent situation yet.
The Thunder Bay District Jail, which opened in 1928, is the fifth-oldest in Ontario and had an operating capacity of 120 inmates as of Jan. 24, 2017.
Will there be another riot? Let’s hope that Katherine Kinger takes action on this very serious issue.
Keep positive thoughts for our hardworking Correctional Officers. They deserve the support of our citizens, our city, and the province of Ontario.
Most importantly, they require leadership from people in a position to provide help.
Katherine Kinger, if you’re reading this, please make efforts to support the safety of our Correctional Officers.
I am writing to you tonight as the Co-Chair of the Provincial Occupational Joint Health and Safety Committee to express a dire concern around the crisis affecting our Institutions in Northwestern Ontario. We have officially reached a crisis point. In December of 2015 the Thunder Bay Jail was rocked by a deadly riot and Hostage Taking, in September of 2018 the Kenora Jail was shocked by a Hostage Taking in one of their General Population Area’s and in the early part of 2019 ATRC experienced a serious riot that saw the Local Police lay charges on the involved Inmates for participating in a Riot. The point of this recap is to express that 3 of our 5 Northwestern Institutions have been through a lot.
Tonight I was informed that the Thunder Bay Jail’s count will rise to 198 Inmates. The present bed space including Segregation and classified workers is 147. The workers of Northwestern Ontario Institutions are concerned over what is going to happen next. I am writing to you to ask for your leadership to help us navigate some sort of solution. Ms. Kinger you have been instrumental in facilitating changes in the aftermath of Thunder Bay and Kenora. I want to work with you to be proactive in an approach so that we do not have to seek assistance from the Province in another aftermath. I am asking that we work together to come up with solutions before we experience another tragedy.
It is clear to me that as the counts continue to soar in Thunder Bay and Kenora that we can not continue to just shuffle Inmates between the 2 Institutions. I also realize that we are using staff from area’s in the Province to help out in Kenora. The assistance to Kenora is much needed, however now we face a crisis at the Thunder Bay Jail where extra staff is going to be needed to try and manage the soaring counts. There are many familiar Inmates at the Thunder Bay Jail that remember the problems that surrounded the 2015 Riot. With a count of 198 those familiar Inmates will begin to recall those problems and what actions they took to voice their concerns. It is already being brought to my attention that the Inmates are “pounding out” new arrivals so that they cannot be admitted to their living area’s. I fear that the next actions will be assaulting Staff.
Ms Kinger we are in need of immediate assistance and leadership before this spills over. Interim solutions do not seem to be working as we just move from one crisis to another. While I understand our Divisions limited right to refuse work, I also understand that we must be equipped to deal with situations of overcrowding. The employer must take all reasonable precautions to protect us in these situations.
I look forward to further discussion with you and the Local OPSEU Presidents of the Northwestern Institutions.
Submitted with the Utmost Respect
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