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Relief for correctional centre
Overcrowding still an issue at the aging Iqaluit facility

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 10, 2014

A new building meant to alleviate overcrowding at the Baffin Correctional Centre (BCC) in Iqaluit should be completed later this year, according to a Government of Nunavut official.

NNSL photo/graphic

Baffin Correctional Centre's new relief structure, seen here Feb. 5, is still under construction and should be completed by late 2014. The facility, located on the same lot as the current facility, is to help alleviate overcrowding issues. - Myles Dolphin/NNSL photo

Chris Stewart, manager of capital and special projects with the GN, said the 48-bed facility is highly anticipated by staff at the correctional centre, where over-crowding continues to occur.

"This is why the opening of the relief structure will be so important," he said.

The building, measuring 1,245 square metres, will be split into two separate units of 24 beds each.

Low-risk inmates will be able to use a kitchen and classrooms for various programming activities.

"It will increase the BCC program capacity," Stewart said. "We're really looking forward to getting those guys into that structure so they can get into the programming activities."

Another way the centre has made a bit more room for inmates is by sending some of them to Rankin Inlet's new healing facility, which opened in January 2013.

"By doing that we were able to alleviate immediate overcrowding at BCC," Stewart added. "However, inmates selected for that had to meet certain criteria."

The Iqaluit correctional centre, which currently houses 72 inmates, was originally built for roughly 65 prisoners.

The overcrowding has been a thorn in BCC's side for a number of years.

In 2011 and 2012, a number of small incidents took place which resulted in the evacuation of the centre.

"The more people you have, the greater the chances of more contraband coming in," said warden Ray Fast last year.

"Because of the overcrowding, we're not able to run some of the recreation for the inmates. What happens is it leads to boredom and idle hands lead to people looking for things to do as a means of escape like we had in November (2012)."

Nunavut's assistant fire marshal visited the facility in 2012 and determined it failed to meet the federal fire code in 42 different ways.

Stewart said fire inspections are carried out regularly and there have been no incidents since small fires were set in November 2012.

"We've worked to resolve many of the deficiencies noted," Stewart said.

"Following the most recent inspection, there are still some deficiencies, but a significantly lower number of them. We're continuing to work on those, either through work order or just on our own."

Some of the smaller deficiencies - called housecleaning issues - can normally be resolved within a day.

Other issues are resolved during the time of inspection and the rest cannot be resolved until they can close down that part of the building to work on it.

- with files from Peter Worden

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