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'Major incident' locks down Penetanguishene superjail

'Reform changed the mentality of inmates and we have seen increased instances of violence, and this is just another one of those instance,' says union official
2020-04-09 ap4
File photo shows police responding to an earlier incident at the Central North Correctional Centre. Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

Central North Correctional Centre is in the midst of a lockdown due to a “major incident” that occurred this morning.

CNCC-369 local president Richard Dionne said the lockdown was necessary due to staffing issues at the Penetanguishene facility.

While he wouldn’t go into specifics regarding what occurred, Dionne said the “major incident” caused staffing issues since “a number of staff had to seek outside medical attention.”

“I can't provide any specific details to the incident itself,” Dionne said. “Unfortunately, the ministry's (Solicitor General) continued push on segregation reform is a source of the problem.”

Andrew Morrison, a spokesman with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, said the some staff members were injured as a result of an "inmate disturbance" on one unit.

"There are no reports of any inmate injuries requiring medical treatment," he said, noting injured staff were taken to hospital for treatment. "It is not appropriate for the ministry to provide further details out of respect for privacy of personal health information."

Several years ago, the ministry passed legislation restricting the use of segregation in provincial correctional facilities. In 2017 decision, an Ontario judge ruled long-term 'administrative segregation,' which involves isolating inmates for long periods of time and was a standard practice in Canadian jails for decades, was unconstitutional.

“This reform changed the mentality of inmates and we have seen increased instances of violence, and this is just another one of those instances,” Dionne said.

“We had a very similar incident on December 21, after which six staff required outside medical attention.”

Morrison said those working in correctional facilities have a challenging job, as they work with a population that has complex needs.

"Correctional facilities across Ontario manage risks of inmate violence on a daily basis," he said. "All correctional officers receive comprehensive training to do their jobs effectively to ensure the safety of both staff and inmates.

"The ministry has policies and procedures in place for dealing with violence and other inmate disturbances, which include critical components such as crisis management, de-escalation and staff awareness."


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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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