FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 5, 2002
Violence, overcrowding escalates at Don Jail
TORONTO - The second inmate stabbing in less than a week is prompting union officials at the Toronto (Don) Jail to call on the employer for the immediate transfer of inmates from the dangerously overcrowded facility.
Two inmates have been stabbed since last Friday night. Another inmate was caught with a sharpened weapon attempting to defend himself from other inmates in the facility.
“There are simply too many inmates in too little space,” says Chris Crosier, president of OPSEU Local 530 at the jail. “This place is a pressure cooker about to explode. You are literally taking your life in your hands when you walk in the front door.”
Crosier says that the inmate counts at the Toronto Jail have swollen from the rated capacity of 550 inmates to 676 last Sunday. “The all-time record in here is 678, just two more than what we had on Sunday,” Crosier says. “You can’t expect to have a group of individuals like these crammed together and not expect trouble
Compounding problems at the oldest jail in Toronto is the lack of isolation cells for inmates who have tested positive for tuberculosis. “Contracting TB is a constant worry in here, especially with the overcrowding problems,” Crosier said. “These cells were supposed to have been installed 10 years ago. We’re still
Barry Scanlon, chair of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee and head corrections representative, said that this is another example of an employer that refuses to deal with the real concerns of correctional workers.
“The government can spend $300,000 on glossy advertising in the Globe and Mail to tell the people of Ontario how wonderful they are, yet they refuse to take any steps to safeguard their employees or the inmates that are in their care,” Scanlon said. “Future plans for fancy superjails is not the answer. We need the
Ministry of Correctional Services to invest in the jails that are running right now, and in the staff that are risking their lives to run them.”
For more information:
Chris Crosier (416) 325-3044
Barry Scanlon (416) 815-1407