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Fact check: Nearly all of Manitoba's correctional facilities are over capacity
The Manitoba provincial government announced it would be closing the Dauphin Correctional Centre in May 2020. (Submitted)
WINNIPEG -- Less than a week after the province announced the closure of the Dauphin Correctional Centre, numbers obtained by CTV News show every correctional centre in the province is over capacity, except for one.
In a written statement to CTV News Winnipeg, Manitoba Justice provided the current number of inmates housed at correctional centres in the province as of Monday morning.
The numbers show the system overall is housing hundreds of inmates more than its centres are rated for.
In announcing the closure in Dauphin, Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said the 67 inmates housed at the centre would be moved to other centres in the province, adding the justice system was below the "high water mark" by 250 inmates.
"When we look at those numbers, we can certainly accommodate the 60 inmates currently in Dauphin in our other facilities in Manitoba," Cullen said on Friday.
Cullen was not available for comment on Monday, but a spokesperson for Manitoba Justice told CTV News the inmate population has decreased by approximately 250 individuals from historic highs.
According to the province, the highest average inmate population since 1990 was 2,454 individuals in the 2016/17 year.
The spokesperson said across the provincial correctional system there is capacity to accommodate the Dauphin Correctional Centre.
But the numbers show every centre is over capacity, with the exception of Milner Ridge.
Here is a breakdown of the current numbers of inmates:
Women's Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 196 offenders
- Currently holding 217
Winnipeg Remand Centre
- Rated capacity for 281 males and eight females
- Currently holding 334
The Pas Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 110 males and four females, with a temporary holding unit for youth
- Currently holding 138
Milner Ridge Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 524 adults males
- Currently holding 442
Headingley Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 549 adult males
- Currently holding 750
Dauphin Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 61 adult males with a temporary unit for youth or women
- Currently holding 67
Brandon Correctional Centre
- Rated capacity for 244 adult males and eight females with a short-term holding unit for youth.
- Currently holding 302
Without taking Dauphin into consideration, the system overall is more than 250 inmates overcapacity.
The Justice spokesperson said the daily custody counts only provide a snapshot and fluctuate. They said that correctional staff regularly manage inmate populations that are over the official rated capacity, while still keeping the inmates and employees safe.
OVERCAPACITY CENTRES POSE SAFETY RISK TO STAFF AND INMATES: MGEU
Michelle Gawronsky, president of Manitoba's Government and General Employees' Union, which represents staff at correctional facilities, said the numbers of inmate capacity referenced by the Justice Minister don't jive with the crime rates she's been hearing about. The union president said the news that centres are overcapacity is not surprising at all.
"When you've got inmates that are overcrowded, then it starts to pose safety risks for both the officers and inmates," Gawronsky told CTV News. "It adds more stress to an already stressful job."
Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union responds to the closure of Dauphin correctional Centre on Jan.24, 2020. (source: CTV News Winnipeg)
She said when inmates are overcrowded in small units, tensions in the jail are going to boil over eventually.
She said with the closure of the Dauphin Correctional Centre, she's not sure where the 67 inmates housed at the centre will go and how the justice system will support the loss of the jail.
"How are they going to make sure that there is safety in all of the jails across, and making sure there's space for everybody."
Gawronsky said she met with Cullen Monday afternoon and asked the province to push back the closure of the Dauphin Correctional Centre -- which is scheduled for May 2020.
"Our members are very, very concerned that there's not going to be the space that's going to be needed to be able to house the inmates and make sure that everybody is kept safe," Gawronsky said.