EDMONTON – The union representing correctional peace officers in Alberta today (Wed., July 17), welcomed media reports that the justice minister will look into the state of correctional facilities in the province.
“Our members in correctional services are the front-line experts in how these facilities operate. If the minister wants to understand how they work and how they can be improved, it’s essential their views be heard,” said James Hart, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents 95,000 Alberta workers.
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer made his comments after the death of an inmate at the Edmonton Remand Centre at the weekend. The cause of death has not been released, but it is considered non-criminal. Seven inmates have died at the facility this year, the highest level since it opened in 2013.
“The safety of inmates and staff at correctional facilities is the highest concern for our members. AUPE welcomes discussions on this important issue and we look forward to meeting the minister. No examination of correctional facilities would be complete without getting our input,” says Hart.
Concern over safety issues at the Edmonton Remand Centre led to a wildcat strike by correctional officer in 2013.
NOTE: The number of deaths reported by Alberta’s Justice and Solicitor General officials was later corrected. Three people have died at the Edmonton Remand Centre this year. The ministry’s full statement: “Over the past few weeks, incorrect information was provided to us regarding fatalities at remand centres in Alberta covering a period in which we were not in government. The information on the number of deaths in 2019 was inflated because the figure also included the number of deaths in 2018 as well. We ensured that the correct information provided to us today was signed off on by the Assistant Deputy Minister, Correctional Services Division. We apologize for any errors that were reported as well as to anyone who made assumptions based on them. We will ensure that we take additional precautions when provided with information and ensure that it is verified by the highest levels of the public service.”
For more information:
Terry Inigo-Jones, AUPE communications officer, 403-831-4394