Expansion of existing facilities welcome but new correction facilities are badly needed, says MGEU.
Winnipeg (11 Jan. 2011) - Prison expansions are badly needed but they are not enough to deal with a massive overcrowding situation in Manitoba correctional institutions, says the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE).
“There truly is no more room at the inn. The overcrowding strategies in place are more a Band-Aid solution than anything else and don’t address the crowding currently in place,” says MGEU spokesman Ken Crawford.
Double-bunking and triple-bunking, which are common in all Manitoba jails, have pushed existing institutions far beyond the capacity they were designed to have, he adds.
The Headingley Correctional Centre, as of last week, held 744 inmates, 259 beyond its design capacity. The Winnipeg Remand Centre had 399 inmates, 110 over capacity.
Last summer the province announced a 160-bed expansion to Milner Ridge Correctional Centre. Additional expansions are underway for The Pas Correctional Centre (40 beds) and Brandon Correctional Centre (80 beds).
A new jail for women in Headingley is expected to house 100 inmates when completed, 65 more than the Portage Women’s Correctional Centre that it will replace.
Crawford called the new Headingley jail for women “a step in the right direction” because Manitoba needs new jails, not merely expansions to over-taxed existing facilities.
“The infrastructure of many of our facilities is already stretched to the limit,” he adds.
Jails have sacrificed programming and recreation areas to accommodate the increase in inmate populations, notes Ron Leslie, provincial executive director for adult custody.
He acknowledges the MGEU argument that the expansions wonwill not t eliminate double-bunking but notes they will definitely bring some much needed relief.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE