Inmates destroy large sections of Nunavut prison

Justice officials say no threat to the public while they arrange inmate transfers


A cell at Baffin Correctional Centre, where four inmates allegedly caused

A cell at Baffin Correctional Centre, where four inmates allegedly caused “significant damage” to parts of the Iqaluit prison overnight Sept. 25. (FILE PHOTO)

The Baffin Correctional Centre faces “significant damage” following a major incident early Sept. 25 at the Iqaluit prison, Government of Nunavut justice department officials said Sept. 28.

That’s when four inmates damaged and destroyed 85 per cent of the building’s medium security sleeping area and a third of its maximum security bed space, the GN said.

Department officials haven’t said what sort of damage they allege the four inmates did to the building during the overnight incident. But the GN said Sept. 28 that its corrections division and the RCMP have drafted a security plan to address the situation.

The GN’s deputy minister of Justice, William MacKay, said Sept. 28 that “there is no threat to the public because of this incident.”

No one was injured during the incident, a justice department spokesperson said. Following negotiations with correctional staff, the four inmates surrendered peacefully Sept. 25 and were arrested by police.

There were 55 inmates at BCC at the time of the damage: 20 who are sentenced and 35 who are in remand custody awaiting the outcome of their charges in court.

All 55 inmates remained in Iqaluit as of Sept. 28, the department said, including the four responsible for the damage, who are currently detained in RCMP cells.

Staff from BCC and Nunavut’s other correctional centres—Makigiarvik, the Rankin Inlet Healing Facility, the Kugluktuk Ilavut Centre and Uttaqivik—“are working together to ensure appropriate transfers across the territory,” MacKay said.

“Significant repairs have been made to the building and upgrades are being completed so that similar incidents cannot be repeated.”

The Nunavut RCMP said it is too early to comment on the incident and any related charges. An investigation into the incident is ongoing, an RCMP spokesperson told Nunatsiaq News.

Work is currently underway on the design of the new 112-bed Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre, which is set to replace BCC and provide additional rehabilitative programming by 2020.

That will end the GN’s reliance on the now 30-year-old BCC, which was flagged for “critical deficiencies” by the Auditor General in 2015, including overcrowding, non-compliance with the fire code and a lack of basic security measures.

“Our department continues to work diligently to ensure the facility is safe and secure for correctional staff and inmates,” MacKay said.

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