• 06/21/12 - - RTC inmates being moved to Bath, Millhaven

    - - RTC inmates being moved to Bath, Millhaven

    By Danielle VandenBrink, Kingston Whig-Standard:  Federal inmates who are mentally ill will remain in the region following the closure of the Kingston Penitentiary, the Whig-Standard has learned.

    Correctional Service Canada has confirmed that inmates of the Regional Treatment Centre, a 143-inmate psychiatric facility located inside the maximum-security prison, will be moved to Bath and Millhaven institutions — located approximately 20km west of Kingston.

    “Inmates at the Regional Treatment Centre will continue to receive treatment at the same level and standard that they (are) currently receiving at the RTC,” a spokesperson for Correctional Service Canada said Wednesday. “The security classification of inmates being transferred will not change as a result of the decommissioning of these institutions. Maximum-security inmates will remain maximum-security inmates and be placed in appropriate facilities at this level. The same will apply for medium-security inmates.”

    According to Correctional Service Canada, medium-security inmates currently being housed at the treatment centre will be transferred to a new, 96-bed unit being constructed at Bath Institution.

    Maximum-security inmates will be moved to units at Millhaven Institution, the CSC said.

    The federal intake and assessment unit for Ontario, which is currently housed at Millhaven Institution, will be moved to the Joyceville Institution near Kingston, the CSC confirmed.

    “The Millhaven Assessment Unit will be moved to Joyceville Institution, thereby increasing the maximum security capacity of this institution,” the spokesperson said. “Maximum-security inmates will be transferred either to Millhaven Institution or to a new maximum-security unit at Collins Bay Institution.”

    Until now, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews has been tight-lipped about plans for inmates incarcerated at the Kingston Penitentiary, which is slated to close by 2015.

    “CSC will ensure that offenders are appropriately transferred and placed at other institutions with public safety as the paramount consideration,” the spokesperson said.

    The correctional service will begin to transfer inmates beginning this year, she said.

    Ted Hsu, member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, said he is satisfied staff at the treatment centre will not be forced to move to keep their jobs.

    “We were worried that these jobs will be taken out of the region, but since they are going to Millhaven and Bath any staff that are transferred will just have a longer commute,” Hsu said. “I think that's something that is good news to a lot of employees and their families.”

    Hsu said he's also learned that an eight-bed hospital inside the Kingston Pen will also be moved to Millhaven Institution.

    Although details are beginning to emerge, Hsu said he will continue to seek answers to the financial justification for shuttering the 177-year-old Kingston Penitentiary.

    “What is the cost savings of the RTC over splitting it into two pieces?” he said. “I'll be continuing to apply pressure on the minister to get answers.”

    Jason Godin, regional president for Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, echoed Hsu's questions about cost.

    “We're a little surprised that the minister claims they are trying to save money but they are duplicating services at both (Millhaven and Bath institutions),” he said.

    Although the government is adding 2,700 new spaces to prisons across Canada, Godin said there are no plans to beef up existing infrastructure to safely accommodate all populations of inmates.

    This includes at least three segregation units currently in use in the Kingston Penitentiary, he said.

    “It's a whole other ball game to how we're going to manage the populations without augmenting the existing infrastructure that is there,” he said.

    Godin said double-bunking—whien another bed is added to a room intended for one inmate — is still a concern for correctional officers.

    “(Minimum-security prisons) in Ontario are highly double-bunked,” he said. “We anticipate that the double-bunking is going to continue. We still haven't seen the full effects of (recently introduced crime legislation).”

    But a spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Public Safety said that simply isn't true.

    “Unlike the ridiculous suggestions of the so-called experts in the opposition, the drastic influx of new inmates has not materialized,” said spokesperson Julie Carmichael. “In fact, we are able to close two prisons to save taxpayers money.”



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