Justice dept. blames ‘misunderstandings’ for Yellowknife inmate complaints – North

The N.W.T.’s Justice Department concluded there have been clear “misunderstandings” about programs at the North Slave Correctional Complex, after reading 70 individual letters sent from inmates last month.

Dozens of inmates took part in the letter writing campaign to tell MLAs and Justice Minister Lou Sebert about the diminishing programs and resources at the jail. This includes a lack of educational, career-training, cultural and recreational opportunities, which was made even worse by the closure of an outside yard more than a year ago.  

One of more than two dozen letters written by prisoners of Yellowknife’s North Slave Correctional Complex asking for improved education opportunities and living conditions. This letter was addressed to Tom Beaulieu, MLA for the constituency of Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Each letter was read by a member of the NSCC’s management team, the warden met with the general inmate population and the warden and deputy wardens held meetings with smaller groups of inmates. It was then concluded that these complaints came down to misinformation.

“Based on the concerns raised in the letters, and the followup discussions with the inmates about these concerns, it is clear there have been misunderstandings regarding recent program modifications at NSCC,” said Kim Schofield, the assistant deputy minister (solicitor general) for the Department of Justice, in an email.

Schofield said that from now on they need to make sure the inmate advisory committee consistently receives the correct information and that that information gets repeated often, especially because the average time an inmate spends at the NSCC is just under 90 days.

Going forward, program information will routinely be included at meetings with the inmate advisory committee.

She added that inmates should go to case managers and corrections officers to find out any information, as opposed to other inmates.

But Schofield admitted that not all the…

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