A man who spent time on remand in Saskatoon is calling attention to conditions at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre following a report critical of the facility.
Jesse Irvine called the Saskatoon Correctional Centre the dirtiest prison he’s seen in his life.
“I was treated like an animal, you have to ask to use the washroom,” he said, adding: “It’s a very dirty place, it smells like rotten eggs.”
Irvine spent four-and-half months on remand — meaning he was being held awaiting trial, but had not been convicted of any crime.
He spent three of those months in Saskatoon before overcrowding concerns caused him to be transferred to the Prince Albert Correctional Centre for a month-and-a-half.
Irvine eventually had his charges dropped.
A report from the provincial ombudsman released Thursday described what were termed substandard living conditions at Saskatoon Correctional Centre.
“We had 20 of us sleeping on hard rubber mats in the gymnasium,” he said. “I had to do this for over a week and it was really hard to sleep, my body hurt and the mats smelt like rotten onions,” he said.
Irvine said there’s a lack of showers as well.
“You’re lucky if you take a shower once every couple of days,” he said. “Taking a dump in your cell with someone else isn’t the funnest thing either because we’re double-bunked.”
Irvine said the recent move to privatize food service led to inmates barely getting anything to eat.
“The portions are so small. Before the government privatized it we ate really good,” he said, adding that the food was leading to increased tensions among inmates.
“Peanut butter and jam sandwiches are treated like gold in prison, I’ve seen people get into fights over the sandwiches,” he said.
Irvine said the Prince Albert Correctional Centre is 10 times better than Saskatoon.
“We ate better and got bigger portions, it didn’t stink, we didn’t sleep on the floor and it very clean,” he said.
Premier Brad Wall responded to the ombudsman’s report through a spokesperson, saying one way for people avoid the conditions in jhil is to not go to jail in the first place.
“I see where he’s coming from, but what about the people who are innocent?” asked Irvine
Advocate wants remand changes
Kim Beaudin, an outreach work with the STR8 UP anti-gang group, has spoken to over 1000 inmates in his position and wants the remand policy to change.
“We have a lot of people in remand who shouldn’t even be in prison,” he said. “That would fix the serious issue of overcrowding.”
Beaudin said the government had to come up with $12 million last year to keep people in remand.
“They aren’t serious criminals, they just missed court in a lot of cases,” he said. “It’s wasting taxpayers’ money.”