Inmates trash Baffin Correctional Centre unit (updated)

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For the second time in nine months, inmates at the Baffin Correctional Centre (BCC) in Iqaluit took control overnight.

The June 20 incident began sometime around midnight, with RCMP and the fire department responding to the incident.

The Baffin Correctional Centre suffered significant damage to its Charlie Unit overnight June 20, as several inmates barricaded themselves in that section of the facility.
NNSL file photo

“Several inmates barricaded a section of the facility resulting in significant damage to the Charlie Unit,” Minister of Justice Jeannie Ehaloak stated in a prepared statement.

According to police, 26 inmates gathered to form a riot.

“RCMP responded immediately with 22 members positioned around the perimeter of the facility to prevent an escape attempt. For several hours, RCMP, Sheriff’s Department and GN Corrections Staff contained the riot situation until such time as all 26 inmates were extracted one by one,” police stated.

Ehaloak said there were no injuries to inmates or staff through the joint effort of Corrections Division and the RCMP.

“The fire department was also on site during the incident as a precaution, but did not need to enter the facility,” she stated.

“This was a coordinated effort that involved an all-hands on deck response. The extraction went extremely well and the most important fact was that nobody was hurt. This could have ended much differently,” stated Insp. Mark Crowther.

As with the October 2017 incident, which involved four inmates, repairs to the correctional facility will be required.

“Significant damage was caused inside the facility. Five police vehicles were damaged as inmates hurled metal and other projectiles through an open window on the south side of the facility. Despite the volatility, no RCMP or Corrections staff were hurt and all inmates were extracted from the facility without injury. The Iqaluit Fire Department, ambulance and municipal enforcement were also on scene as a precautionary measure,” stated police.

“In the meantime, the Department of Justice is looking at options to transfer and house inmates in correctional facilities outside the territory until these repairs can be completed,” Ehaloak stated.

“As Minister of Justice, I would like to reassure the residents of Iqaluit that there is no threat to public safety because of this incident. The Department of Justice and Corrections Division are working diligently to repair the damage and ensure the facility is safe and secure for correctional staff and inmates.”

Deputy minister of Justice William MacKay said in October corrections staff worked with RCMP to create a security plan in the aftermath of the first incident.

Ehaloak stated her department continues to work on the new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre, which will replace the current facility.

“The new infrastructure will address ongoing security-related issues, as well as provide additional rehabilitative programming,” she stated.

But it was announced in May the construction of the new healing centre would be delayed a year after a request for proposals had failed to produce a winning bid.

In 2013, the Office of the Correctional Investigator publicly documented the conditions at Baffin Correctional Centre. In March 2015, auditor general Michael Ferguson’s report on corrections in Nunavut noted the Department of Justice was doing very little to correct what he said were insecure and unsafe conditions for inmates and staff at BCC.

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Michele LeTourneau
Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following a very short stint as a communications officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Michele spent a decade at a community-based environmental monitoring board in the mining industry, where she worked with Inuit, Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and Metis elders to help develop traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit contributions for monitoring and management plans. She rejoined NNSL and moved to Iqaluit in May 2014 to write for Nunavut News. Michele has received a dozen awards for her work with NNSL.