The president of the union representing Saskatchewan jail guards says overcrowding has reached a crisis point in facilities across the province.
Bob Bymoen, president of the Saskatchewan Government Employee’s Union (SGEU) said a pair of riots at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre should act as a wake-up call to the problems caused by stacking too many inmates in aging buildings.
“We’ve been saying it for 10 years and nobody’s listening. Nobody cares. It’s overcrowding. You can’t stick that many people in one place and house them as inmates and not expect trouble.”
Bymoen said his members have serious concerns about inmates stacked on top of each other in bunks, often installed in spaces not originally designed to house people. He said this, combined with cuts to programs available to inmates, has created a powderkeg in provincial jails.
“Somebody’s going to get hurt, somebody’s going to get killed and somebody needs to be responsible when this happens. Because nobody’s believing it today and nobody’s doing anything about it today,” he said.
Bymoen said that on top of more facilities and staff to ease the crunch, the union wants to see more training in how to deal with inmate disturbances.
“They need more ongoing excercises and training so that when the stuff comes up, there’s a little bit more of a (regimen) on how to deal with it,” he said.
Bymoen added that workers also need better supports after incidents occur.