Millhaven Institution inmates’ concerns over COVID-19 addressed, CSC says

A group of inmates at Millhaven Institution previously refused to lock down due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus. Correctional Service Canada said the inamtes are now locked down. Nick Westoll / Global News File

Editor’s note: This story previously stated that Millhaven Institution inmates had refused to lock down and that the institution was put under lockdown. This is incorrect. The inmates refused to lock up, which is a routine procedure used for things such as the regular counts. The headline and story has been changed to reflect that difference.

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) says a group of inmates at Millhaven Institution who were previously refusing lock up due to concerns over COVID-19 have since been assured CSC is taking the appropriate screening measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Locking up is required as a routine and daily procedure for operations such as regular counting of inmates.

On Monday, Global News received a call from an Millhaven inmate who complained that offenders at the institution are not being given personal hygiene products or surgical masks to protect themselves from catching the virus.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario government suspends personal visits at adult jails, intermittent inmate stays

He also said inmates had refused to lock up because visits have been cancelled along with programs.

On Monday, CSC spokesperson Kyle Lawlor said the federal agency took measures to protect staff and offenders from contracting the novel coronavirus by suspending visits at institutions across the country.

All visits from the public and volunteers, temporary absences from institutions, unless medically necessary and work releases for offenders have been suspended for the time-being.

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“Other options are available to inmates and their family and friends to stay in contact such as video visitation or telephone. We continue to work on other measures to assist with inmates communicating with their family and friends,” Lawlor said in an emailed statement.

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As of Wednesday, CSC has yet to report any cases of the novel coronavirus in any of its penitentiaries.

Lawlor said each institution is in contact with their local public health agencies to protect against the spread of the virus.

Kieran Moore, medical officer for health for KFL&A Public Health, the health agency that covers Millhaven, said in a news conference announcing Kingston’s first three cases of the virus that public health officials were especially worried about those in correctional facilities.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 3 cases of COVID-19 announced in Kingston

But Moore said CSC has been listening to advice from public health officials.

“We’re worried about correctional facilities and so far our correctional facilities have taken the our advice about screening their staff, minimizing visitors into their institutions and preparing if there’s outbreaks within those facilities. That’s something that concerns me and that we’re working with them carefully on,” Moore said.

Lawlor said CSC staff are screening any individuals in their institutions who are showing symptoms that could be linked to the virus.

“Symptomatic individuals that meet public health criteria will be tested, provided with immediate clinical interventions as required, and CSC will contact local public health,” Lawlor said.

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On Wednesday, Lawlor said the warden at Millhaven met with the inmates who previously refused to lock up to address their concerns — those inmates then proceeded to lock up, Lawlor said.

READ MORE: Canada’s prisons preparing for coronavirus outbreak, want to limit visits


“At Millhaven Institution, offenders are provided soap and shampoo on a biweekly basis. Should an offender run out of either product, they can put in a request for more. Additional hygiene products are available through the inmate canteen for offenders to purchase.”

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