London – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is expressing deep satisfaction with the opening of a new facility for inmates serving their sentences on weekends at the Elgin‑Middlesex Detention Centre.
The 112-bed Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) was built on the grounds of the Elgin-Middlesex facility at a cost of $9.3 million in just one year. There will be no intermingling of inmates serving intermittent sentences and the general inmate population.
OPSEU Local 108 Trustee Julie McGuffin believes the RIC will go a long way to making Elgin‑Middlesex a more secure institution for both inmates and staff.
“Having up to 100 outside inmates come into the facility every weekend created a cocktail of problems. It’s already bursting at the seams, and trying to cram even more in was making a terrible situation intolerable. Tensions and tempers rose. The fact that intermittent inmates could smuggle in contraband weapons and drugs made it a recipe for disaster.
“OPSEU President Thomas, former Region 1 Vice-President Ron Elliot, and the local president met with then‑Minister Madeleine Meilleur years ago to request an intermittent facility,” McGuffin noted. “I’m relieved the government finally recognized the problem and did something about it. Now we can focus on a number of other health and safety issues of grave concern to the members.”
One feature of the RIC is the installation of a full-body scanner – the first of the province’s correctional institutions to get one. Standard metal-detectors cannot identify items like drugs or ceramic blades. The remaining 26 provincial correctional facilities will have them within two years.
“Contraband and overcrowding have contributed significantly to the crisis in corrections,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We told the minister that there was a critical need for an intermittent facility at Elgin‑Middlesex.
“Building this scanner-equipped RIC demonstrates that the government is finally listening to OPSEU’s concerns and recommendations around the province’s ailing correctional system,” Thomas continued, “but much more remains to be done.
“The crisis in corrections was decades in the making, and it won’t be solved overnight. But with the new RIC, the province just got a little safer.”
For more information: Julie McGuffin, 519-859-9102
Related: Crisis In Corrections index page