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Overnight riot leaves Nunavut jail with “significant” damage

Department of Justice looking to transfer inmates south due to lack of space

By BETH BROWN

A metal sink and a pile of blue chairs, among other items, are strewn on the ground outside the Baffin Correctional Centre, beneath a shattered window, on the morning of June 21. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)


A metal sink and a pile of blue chairs, among other items, are strewn on the ground outside the Baffin Correctional Centre, beneath a shattered window, on the morning of June 21. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

One unit of the BCC is “significantly” damaged after inmates rioted during the night of June 20, says Nunavut's justice minister. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)


One unit of the BCC is “significantly” damaged after inmates rioted during the night of June 20, says Nunavut’s justice minister. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Several inmates at Baffin Correctional Centre rioted last night, barricading themselves in one unit of the jail.

The resulting damage is severe enough that Nunavut’s Department of Justice is now looking at transferring some inmates to facilities in southern Canada until repairs are complete, said Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak in a statement released this morning.

“Significant repairs will be required to BCC’s Charlie Unit. In the meantime, the Department of Justice is looking at options to transfer and house inmates in correctional facilities outside the territory until these repairs can be completed,” Ehaloak said.

No inmates or centre staff are injured. Staff from Iqaluit’s fire department were on site but were not needed.

Photos submitted to Nunatsiaq News this morning show a metal sink and a pile of blue chairs, among other things, strewn on the ground outside the high-security jail, underneath a shattered window. There is yellow caution tape around the centre.

The RCMP said they are unable to provide comment until later today.

This is not the only riot to have recently occurred at the BCC. Last fall, 85 per cent of the sleeping area in the prison’s medium-security area was largely destroyed, allegedly by four inmates, along with part of a maximum-security sleeping area.

“As minister of justice, I would like to reassure the residents of Iqaluit that there is no threat to public safety because of this incident,” Ehaloak said.

“Repairs will make sure that the BCC is “safe and secure for correctional staff and inmates,” she said.

A new jail, the Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre, is slated to replace the BCC. That 112-bed centre is supposed to open by 2021.

“The new infrastructure will address ongoing security related issues, as well as provide additional rehabilitative programming,” Ehaloak said.

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