Province budgets for jail improvements to ease overcrowding

Ryan Ross
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The provincial government plans to spend $400,000 next year to help reduce overcrowding at the Provincial Correctional Centre.

Justice Minister Janice Sherry said the province has already added eight spaces at the youth centre in Summerside to deal with overflow from the Provincial Correctional Centre.

"We've been at capacity but we've not sent anyone to the overflow units yet," she said.

The province has been working on the issue of overcrowding for more than a year, including adding beds at the youth centre in Summerside.

Changes were needed after a spike in the number of inmates housed at the correctional centre after federal changes to legislation related to sentencing.

In its latest capital budget, the government included $400,000 for correctional centre improvements in 2013-2014, up from $150,000 this year.

That investment will mean an additional eight beds at the youth centre.

The need for overflow space came after P.E.I. saw its new wing that was meant to house people serving intermittent sentences used to house other inmates because there wasn't enough room for them elsewhere in the jail.

Those inmates include women who were moved to the new wing because of space constraints.

Although the number of people in the jail varies, it houses about 135 inmates on weekends when people serve intermittent sentences.

The province had considered housing women in an empty section of the youth centre, but that hasn't happened and Sherry said the department has been looking at the situation involving female inmates.

"Right now they are still at Sleepy Hollow," she said.

Sherry said the number of female inmates has been fairly consistent with about 13-16 of them housed at the correctional centre at any given time.

Along with the money budgeted for improvements next year, Sherry said the province is still looking at developing therapeutic courts.

Therapeutic courts focus on treating underlying problems such as addictions or mental health issues instead of focusing on punishment.

Sherry said investing money in programs and people would be a better use than spending it on infrastructure.

"From my own perspective I believe that programs to help people is a far better way to go," she said.

But it could be a while before P.E.I. gets therapeutic courts, if it gets them at all.

Sherry said the province has asked the federal government to consider giving P.E.I. support in moving forward with a therapeutic court.

"I will say the response was lukewarm," she said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

 

Organizations: Provincial Correctional Centre

Geographic location: Summerside

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Recent comments

  • DO THE TIME
    November 29, 2012 - 21:28

    Stop letting these slime balls pick when they want to do the time. a 60 day sentence is 60 days not 30 weekends. They were not worried about their jobs when they committed the crimes and there are plenty of law abiding people that would gladly have the job. Do the crime . do the time and not at your convienence and there would be no over crowing. All we have now is a large group playing cards and watching movies on weekends.

  • Jamal
    November 29, 2012 - 19:56

    Who cares? Criminals deserve to be treated like the animals they are!

  • pickle
    November 29, 2012 - 16:19

    Weekends are a joke.....I think jobs should be for the law abiding. Losing your job to go to jail might be a deterrent.

  • joe
    November 29, 2012 - 11:39

    Well I suppose with the new highway, all the corrupt promises to the slimmy contractors last year, the governement has to keep them happy. The average people on this Island means nothing to this government. As a Liberal MLA I don't know what kind of person you would have to be to be part of this governement. Money and power rules I guess. At the end of the day you will have someone to answer to for all your lies, stealing and corruptness.

  • reaches conclusion
    November 29, 2012 - 10:26

    Why not house the criminals in some of the schools they closed down or even like the old high school in Montague .It shouldnt take much to fix it up to house prisoners since we pay to heat them anyways while they sit empty If it dont meet all the regulations (oh well ) maybe we wont have repeat offenders if it isnt such a swanky place to go on weekends

  • wingdinger
    November 29, 2012 - 07:47

    All this government knows how to do is spend. Our provincial deficit must be pretty high with everything highways,schools,jail reconstruction,PNP like everying. I agree with (MYGUESS) make sure all the illigal pnp guys have a nice country club of a jail to go to when get get nailed

  • JohnW.A.Curtis
    November 29, 2012 - 07:02

    Literacy and learning are the key to reducing crime however it will take years to see the benefits from hiring early child hood educators. P.E.I.'s lack of jobs and low wages will keep crime higher then needed.

  • Read the article
    November 29, 2012 - 07:00

    To accommodate criminals who only want to go into the hollow Friday night after "Work" and out Sunday morning at 6, we are experiencing overcrowding. A Penalty is a penalty. If you get 10 days in jail, do them in a row! Would eliminate weekend overcrowding and cost taxpayers nothing! Heaven forbid...

  • Garth Staples
    November 29, 2012 - 06:46

    Prevention measures are necessary. But what happens when they fail?

  • Robot Gizz
    November 29, 2012 - 03:39

    Guess the boys from the club want the place ship shape for when the bottom falls out of their plan to endlessly rip off the public and the merry band of thieves finial get put where they belong. Justice will be served.

  • Jibjab
    November 28, 2012 - 23:33

    I would let the gov't double the budget if it stopped house arrest for people that should go to jail. Maybe, some of these inmates deserve a little more time at a Federal institution instead.

  • Prevention Is Better
    November 28, 2012 - 22:13

    Why spend more on jails and close schools? Wouldn't it be better to teach children respect, kindness, honesty, etc, than to just 'hope they turn out' and if not put them in a fancy new jail?

    • Kyle
      November 29, 2012 - 07:58

      Who's "hoping they'll turn out"? You do realize that school closures make sense because there just aren't as many kids as there used to be. People in rural communities on PEI need to understand that a 20 minute drive to a new school isn't going to ruin their life. The sense of entitlement in this province is unreal.

    • To Kyle
      November 29, 2012 - 10:22

      Actually, if you look at the cost of operating a small country school over the cost of housing prisoners, I think you would find it is cheaper to have kids be in an atmosphere where they spend more time in a classroom than on a bus and learn respect for one another instead of being part of a 'factory' school. I am not a rural citizen, and my kids are grown up, but no elementary grade one or two child of mine spent hours on a bus, unsupervised. There are drugs in the schools and there are bullies in schools. Those kids eventually become residents of the jail (some do anyway). If they have to be overcrowed, so be it. Busses are too, and so are classrooms. That is the point I was making.

  • My Guess
    November 28, 2012 - 21:21

    My Guess is the Liberals want to make sure all those with bogus PNP companies will be comfortable when they go to jail.

    • Trollololol
      November 29, 2012 - 05:14

      Sounds about right Gail.

  • SG
    November 28, 2012 - 20:09

    (Sherry said investing money in programs and people would be a better use than spending it on infrastructure.) I would have to agree that investing money in People and needed Programs should be more of a Priority than a new Highway.

    • SG is so right
      November 29, 2012 - 08:51

      SG, you're so right. And I suspect the vast majority of Islanders agree with you and that principle. However, the will of the majority and principled decision making does not seem to exist in the vacuum of this government.