Canada

Alarm sounded at Ontario jail over inmate transfers amid outbreaks

PENETANGUISHENE, ONT. —
Concerns are being raised after reports the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene would receive a transfer of inmates from other jails dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

A long-time correctional officer at the Penetanguishene superjail, who wished to remain anonymous, was on edge about the transfer scheduled to happen next week. “I think it’s wrong that we’re transferring these people and putting so many people at risk.”

Richard Dionne, president of OPSEU Local 369, said he learned there would be 50 prisoners transferring. Most of whom would be coming from Thunder Bay District Jail, which is in a lockdown after multiple cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

“We just got out of outbreak a couple of weeks ago. So to risk bringing in 30 inmates from that area that is in outbreak, that could potentially put us right back into one,” Dionne said.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said there are a number of transfers “being considered” under the order of Ontario’s solicitor general. While the solicitor general’s office won’t get into specifics, it did say CNCC had room since it’s running at 58 per cent capacity. They also consider the inmates being transferred to be low-risk, and “the ministry tests all newly admitted inmates for COVID-19, with their consent.”

New inmates will isolate from the prison’s general population for 14 days after arriving at the Penetanguishene maximum security prison and tested for COVID-19, but that isn’t enough to calm fears.

“It’s unnerving not knowing what’s going to happen next and how many people are going to get it,” the correctional officer said.

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