April 25, 2019 6:00 am

Inmate murder part of disturbing trend of violence at Stony Mountain, says union prez

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The murder of an inmate at Stony Mountain Institution Monday night is part of a disturbing trend, according to an official at the Manitoba prison.

James Bloomfield, prairie regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, told 680 CJOB that Stony Mountain has seen five homicides in 16 months, and it’s a trend that is expected to continue.

“When it comes down to this type of thing, this is obviously a lot more than just breaking the rules,” Bloomfield said.

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“When you have five murders in 16 months in one building, there’s definitely a problem. This is not normal for any work place of any sort, and even within a federal facility, this is not normal.”

READ MORE: RCMP investigating homicide at Stony Mountain prison

Bloomfield attributes the violence, in part, to the amount of gang activity – there are 30-40 active gangs behind Stony Mountain’s walls, he said – as well as the institution’s difficulty in isolating non-compliant inmates.

“Realistically, it’s a multitude of factors that are just combining all at the same time here,” he said.

“We recently had a court decision which changes the way we do segregation in this country, and we’ve been left with a gap. It’s kind of a vacuum hole with nothing to replace it. We’re in a place where the repercussions are very minimal inside for any negative actions.”

When news of inmate homicides is reported, the public response is often that the victims ‘deserved’ it because they’ve been convicted of a crime, or that because the deaths happen behind prison walls, it’s easy for those on the outside to overlook.

Bloomfield, however, said for staff at the prison, it’s a job like any other, and the increased violence has led to a 36 per cent rate of post-traumatic stress disorder for Stony Mountain’s officers – higher than any other type of occupation.

“It’s such a weird thing to consider, but if you had a murder in your workplace a couple of days ago, it’s not like you’d be there right now – in a regular work environment.,” he said.

“We’ve had five in 16 months in my workplace, and that’s a lot to deal with, mentally, physically… just all-out, the whole environment itself is really in a different place right now, based on what’s going on.”

WATCH: People living near Stony Mountain Institution question protocol after 2 inmates escape

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