The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) is calling for an investigation after two correctional officers were assaulted by inmates at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility last month.
The management-employee communications committee at the jail subsequently decided that inmates in that area would be let out in the day room only one at a time until the investigation was completed.
NSGEU president Jason MacLean says the superintendent unilaterally decided the next day to let several out at a time.
Soon after, an inmate attacked another inmate.
“My members have no confidence in their superintendent,” MacLean said. “The superintendent is going against everything that they already had agreed to.”
Nova Scotia Adult Facilities chief superintendent John Scoville says investigations such as these take time.
“You can’t ever agree that we would just consider locking them down until the investigation is completed,” he said. “Those can take quite a while, so in order to make sure the liberty and rights of the inmates are also upheld, we would do it in a way that is safe for people by assessing the risk.”
Inmates at the facility are scheduled to move to another area that will provide direct supervision. Correctional officers won’t be doing rounds and checking smaller groups of inmates. They will instead be inside a bigger area with more inmates.
“The important piece of that is that it makes it a much safer environment both for staff and for inmates because you create relationships and that’s a part of the whole difference between indirect to direct,” said Scoville.
The union says it’s concerned about the situation involving the superintendent, and the coming switch-over.
“What we’re calling for is, right away, for an assessment be done and for direct supervision be held off until that assessment is completed and we’re able to start the work to make this a safer place,” MacLean said.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Justice says there was an alleged assault that has been referred to police to investigate.
— With files from Steve Silva