March 5, 2014
TORONTO The union representing Ontario"s front-line correctional officers says that criminal charges laid against officers at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) are "gravely troubling" considering the recent history of violence in this maximum-security facility.
The charges are in relation to the murder of 29-year-old Adam Harvey Kargus, an inmate at the facility, on Nov. 1 of last year. Another inmate was charged in his death.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that his union has been sounding the alarm about problems at EMDC since mid-2012.
"We are saddened by this death and send our condolences to the family of the victim," Thomas said. "While we cannot comment on the specifics of these new charges as they are before the courts, we find it gravely troubling that front-line officers are now involved."
Thomas said that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services must face the fact that this facility is overcrowded, has an outdated design and lacks the proper staffing, staff training and security equipment to deal with the day-to-day problems inside.
"For over 18 months we have said that tragedies would occur at EMDC unless the problems that have been identified by front-line officers were fixed," Thomas said. "From the beginning, the Ministry resisted making changes. Now, lives have been lost and the very people who raised the concerns are being criminally charged. This is heart-breaking on all levels. We can only hope that the Ministry will make some substantial, useful changes before another tragic incident occurs."
Warren (Smokey) Thomas