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July 31, 2012: Escalating inmate tensions at EMDC put correctional officers at risk: OPSEU

LONDON – Five days of escalating inmate tensions inside the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre is putting the health and safety of correctional officers at risk, says the union that represents staff at the facility.

“The presence of small fires, flooding, sharp-edge weapons and damaged cell doors has combined to put the safety and security of our members at significant risk,” said Dan Sidsworth, who represents provincial correctional officers with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union including more than 260 correctional officers and staff who work at the London provincial jail.

“The situation could be safely diffused if management begins a ‘slow release’ of prisoners whereby small rotating groups of inmates are allowed to leave their cells to shower and groom before returning to their cells,” Sidsworth added.

Since the inmate unrest started five days ago, the detention centre has called in tactical units known as Institutional Crisis Intervention teams to bring order and control to the situation. Four inmates have been transferred to other correctional facilities.

“Thankfully none of our correctional officers have been harmed but conditions inside EMDC are close to the boiling point and senior management must work harder to ensure that this trouble does not escalate into a full-blown riot,” said Sidsworth.

Anger and tensions inside the cell blocks at EMDC started late last week when inmates began to demonstrate against overcrowded conditions and cut-backs in programming.

More information:
Dan Sidsworth
OPSEU Community Safety & Correctional Services