Sask. jails may house some inmates in trailers to limit COVID-19 spread
SASKATOON -- As part of its pandemic response, Saskatchewan's corrections ministry is setting up modular living units in trailers at its facilities in Saskatoon and Regina in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19 among inmates. But it's unclear when those trailers will be implemented, and some inmates say they're stuck living in cramped quarters.
In addition to a plan to provide inmates with masks, in an emailed statement, the Ministry of Corrections and Policing said it's setting up configurable trailers at Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre (SPCC) and Regina Provincial Correctional Centre (RPCC) to "allow more flexibility in managing the offender population."
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The two adult male facilities hold accused offenders on remand while they await trial and offenders serving sentences under two years.
As of Monday afternoon, three inmates at SPCC and one inmate at Regina Provincial Correctional Centre RPCC had tested positive for the illness. There were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff at SPCC and one RPCC worker had tested positive for the illness.
Despite the cases, some inmates say they continue to share cramped quarters. According to an inmate at SPCC who spoke with CTV News by phone, some inmates are currently sleeping on the floor in his unit.
"I think there's 15 bunks and 30 inmates," Cory Charles Cardinal said.
"There's inmates that fall under that criteria of vulnerability to COVID-19, inmates here that are susceptible with preexisting health concerns, immunocompromised on the unit also."
While the ministry did not provide a specific timeline, it said it expects the trailers to be ready to use "in the near future."
When asked, the ministry would not say whether the trailers would be used to help isolate inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 or to help spread out the facility's population more generally. The ministry did not provide a more detailed description of the units.
Cardinal said there is a lot of uncertainty inside the jail and that he and other inmates only learned about the current COVID-19 case count inside the facility after seeing a news report on TV.
"It's creating a culture of fear here with the inmates, not knowing what's going on."
Cardinal said the ministry is moving forward with its plan to distribute masks to inmates.
"It's been eight months now since the pandemic and this is the first time that they've actually just come around and given everybody masks."