Some inmates at the Regina Correctional Centre are once again refusing trays of food.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed a total of 16 inmates in Unit 2D1 first refused their breakfast Thursday morning. As of Friday morning, that number was down to 15.
Forrest Pelletier is one of the inmates. He explained the chief issue this time revolves around inmates being cooped up in their cells for too long.
“We refuse to take our trays and we refuse to take water because we’re tired of being locked up 21 hours a day,” he said. “That was the agreement, that they’d do a proper review into giving us more time out of our cell. This has been going on for a long time and we’ve just had enough of it.”
He added they want a proper exercise yard, likening the current one to a cage. He said they are only able to utilize it one day out of the week. Inmates are also asking for more cable TV channels, to beef up what they currently have.
Pelletier also spearheaded what he called a hunger strike this past December over the quality of food.
“It seems like nobody really cares. It just seems like they just are more concerned about making money than the people that’s in there.”
The province said these are the list of demands the inmates are asking for:
- Up to 60 channels added to the television package. This would be for the televisions that they currently have in their cells. (this would require new infrastructure to be installed in the unit)
- One movie network channel added to their enhanced cable packages.
- They would like the ministry to build a new and larger exercise yard for working out.
- Inmates are upset about the canteen prices, would like the facility to raise the monthly canteen limit to $75 (it has already recently been raised from $50 to $60, and a commitment has been made to the inmates that more increases can be made, on the condition of good behavior)
- Would like more access to sweat lodges.
The ministry’s Drew Wilby said they don’t negotiate with inmates during a tray refusal. He spoke specifically about those who are contained in Unit 2D1.
“The inmates that are there are there because of their significant gang ties, because of the threat they pose to the facility or the threat others in the facility may pose to them,” he explained, adding an inmate can get out of the unit with good behaviour.
Pelletier maintained some of the inmates in that wing haven’t had their day in court yet.
While Wilby said the ministry will give consideration to some of the requests from inmates, there’s one demand that won’t be carried out.
“The cable package, the ministry’s simply not interested in entertaining that at this time,” he said.
Pelletier admitted the quality of food has improved over the last number of months. Wilby said a review of the food service is underway.