Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth undergoing millions in renovations

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WATCH: The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth is going through some major renovations, one of which will see barriers between guards and inmates removed. Natasha Pace reports – May 15, 2018

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth opened its doors in the fall of 2001. The medium-security facility is the largest jail in the province and is currently undergoing $6.8 million in renovations.

One of the main changes in the jail so far is to the day rooms in the north unit. Those renovations are needed so the facility can move to a direct-supervision model, which means correctional officers are stationed in units with inmates.

“It makes it safer and it makes the staff approachable and a source of information for anything that the inmate may need,” said Jim Hayman, a staff trainer with Correctional Services.

“We don’t do the intermittent rounds in direct supervision, we’re in there for active and continued supervision.”

READ: Man assaulted by three other offenders at Burnside jail

As part of the renovations, seven day rooms in the north unit were reduced to four.

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“A day room is simply a living unit and there’s different terminology at different facilities across Canada, where the offenders are housed, they sleep in those day rooms, there’s a common area. Often there are amenities such as microwaves,” said Supt. Tim Carroll.

Officials say the new direct supervision model will allow staff to intervene before conflicts turn into crisis.

“Certainly there’s conflict when a large number of people live together, but if our staff are able to be proactive and intervene at the conflict stage then we’re successful in stopping things from coming to a crisis and we don’t have to cross that bridge from the verbal continuum into the physical and that’s the aim,” added Hayman.

WATCH: Overdoses in Nova Scotia jails calls for Naloxone

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Overdoses in NS jails calls for Naloxone – Nov 2, 2016

Inmates who live in the day room area will be able to participate in a number of programs where they can earn money to spend in the facility, like at the canteen.

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“Direct supervision is an incentive-based program, so we will be looking at providing some privilege levels for offenders housed in these day rooms,” said Carroll.

Two new body scanners are also being installed at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Each one comes with a price tag of around $198,000. The goal is to reduce contraband like weapons and drugs from entering the facility when inmates arrive. The cost for the body scanners is in addition to the nearly $7 million being spent to renovate the building.

READ: Nova Scotia looking to buy body scanners to cut down on goods smuggled into jails

It’s estimated that 40-to-60 per cent of inmates have addiction issues, which is why officials want to keep narcotics out of the facility.

“It becomes really important to provide a safe environment where we can look at them and look at how can we rehabilitate without those those kinds of drugs coming into our facility. This is one of the safest ways that we can do without being intrusive,” said Chief Supt. John Scoville of Nova Scotia’s Department of Justice Correctional Services.

READ MORE: Fentanyl seized from N.S. correctional facility for 1st time

In total, five body scanners have been purchased. Two will be installed at the jail in Burnside, while the three others will be installed at other facilities in the province.

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Renovations to the north unit of the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility are about 80 per cent complete, with inmates expected to move back into the area in a few weeks. Renovations to change the west unit in the facility to a direct supervision model will begin later this summer.

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