More details around the latest “disturbance” at Regina’s Correctional Centre are emerging.
On Thursday night, more than $100,000 in damage was allegedly caused by 13 inmates who are now under investigation.
“They were able to break some of the glass. They were able to damage some of the property that exists within that area of the facility, as well as some of the damage to their individual cells,” Corrections Ministry spokesman Drew Wilby said.
One inmate was sent to hospital but returned to the jail later that night. A correctional officer also had minor injuries.
“Our emergency response team was called in. They put the disturbance to rest quite quickly. Those 13 individuals were questioned by police and charges are pending,” Wilby said.
Four of the inmates have since been moved to Prince Albert’s Correctional Centre.
“We need to call this what it is: it’s a riot,” Justice Critic Nicole Sarauer said.
The government disagreed with the term.
“A riot would be where we actually lose control of the entire unit or the facility itself similar to what happened in PA last year with the federal penitentiary. A disturbance is where there’s some acting out by the inmates, some damage is being caused, but the Ministry of Correction’s centre staff remain in complete control of the facility, which is the case here,” Wilby said.
There’s concern for corrections staff because of budget cuts, Sarauer said.
“We’ve heard from correctional officers that they’re scared to go to work right now,” she said. “With the cuts that the Sask. Party are making to correctional facilities and programs, we’re going to see more ‘disturbances,’ as the Sask. Party calls this, in the future.”
Union leader Bob Bymoen is concerned that overcrowding could have triggered the incident.
“You combine this along with the added pressures that have been building in the centres over the change in how their meals are delivered to the type of food that they get and the cuts in the small amount of compensation they get, and you combine that with extra costs to make phone calls…” Bymoen said. “It’s highly volatile.”
Wilby said the government can’t release more information because RCMP are still investigating, but it is committed to public safety and encourages staff to bring forward any concerns.