EDMONTON – It’s about filling time not killing time.
The inmates of One Alpha Boot Camp fill the room as they recite their cadence, “Integrity! Discipline! Teamwork!”
The men in the Edmonton Remand Centre boot camp unit are all waiting for their day in court.
“Growing up, I was involved in criminal life and all that stuff—growing up in a rough neighbourhood—and not having any mentors in my life to show me a better way. And this place really showed me structure and discipline,” said 27-year-old inmate Steven Paul.
The program was the first of its kind in Canada when it launched in 2013. It started with the One Bravo unit and because of its success, a second unit called One Alpha was formed.
Correctional peace officer at the One Alpha unit, Glenn Vey, says, “it’s is about providing structure, guidance, leadership and mentorship to inmates so that they can better themselves.”
Boot camp is voluntary, but comes with strict rules. Those who don’t abide are removed from the program.
“There’s no booze and no fighting. The respect works both ways – the officer gives the inmate respect and the inmate gives the officer respect,” added Vey.
Inmates have certain daily responsilbilities including keeping their cell spotless. Some also have the opportunity to enrol in various classes.
“I’ve taken every program the Edmonton Remand Centre has to offer including parenting, family violence, addictions programming,” said inmate John Kennedy.
There’s no guarantee of a lower sentence by joining the boot camps, but there’s been a waiting list to get in. Officers say it’s too early to report hard numbers around the program’s success and if it keeps members out of jail. However, the number of incidents on the unit is down.