In a bid to ease capacity issues and address staff and inmate safety concerns at the troubled facility, the provincial government announced Tuesday the opening of a new $9.3-million Regional Intermittent Centre on the grounds of the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
The all-male 22,000-square-foot facility, announced in May 2015, is the second such intermittent centre built in the province, and is the first to be built as part of Ontario’s regional intermittent centre strategy, the goal of which is to provide standalone intermittent centres on the grounds of an existing facility, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said in a media release.
“The strategy keeps intermittent populations separate from the general inmate populations to help prevent the smuggling of contraband into facilities by weekend offenders,” said the release.
An intermittent sentence is a sentence of 90 days or less that offenders serve in segments of time, typically on weekends, rather than all at once.
“As part of our government’s plan to transform Ontario’s correctional system, this Regional Intermittent Centre is an important step forward,” said Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier and MPP for London North Centre, in a statement. “I’m glad our government is making this investment in our community.”
According to the province, the facility contains various types of housing and beds to support “diverse accommodations such as general beds, accessible beds, a dormitory to manage special needs and a segregation unit,” the release said.
In addition, the centre features doors, locks, windows, and washrooms that are electronically secured, furniture that is bolted to the floor, and electronic security with full camera coverage and control modules to manage movement of the facility through electronic doors.
In a statement, the Chair of EMDC’s Community Advisory Board commended the opening of the new facility.
“I am pleased to report on behalf of the CAB, our confidence that the opening of the new Regional Intermittent Centre will make EMDC a much safer place in which to serve a custodial sentence and to work,” said Rebecca Howse. “We commend EMDC staff for all their good work to ready the RIC to receive inmates.”
The opening of the new Regional Intermittent Centre comes less than a month after The Ontario Superior Court certified a class-action lawsuit against the province over conditions at the EMDC, and just over four months after the province announced body scanners would be installed at the facility as part of a province-wide rollout.