Millhaven Institution warden talks about structured intervention units

Click to play video: 'Millhaven Institution Warden speaks about Structured Intervention Units'
Millhaven Institution Warden speaks about Structured Intervention Units
WATCH: Millhaven Institution is making strides to get more modern when it comes to the necessary isolation of some prisoners, and it comes in the form of structured intervention units – May 10, 2023

Putting prisoners into segregation units isn’t allowed anymore. Legislative changes ended that practice in federal prisons in 2019.

Instead, inmates are placed in “structured intervention units.”

On Wednesday, Corrections Canada opened its doors for a rare media tour of these units and how they work.

“It was probably the biggest change that the correctional service had faced,” said Henry Saulnier, Warden at Millhaven Institution.

Saulnier said he’s proud of what the institution has done to change with the times, and legislation.

Prior to November 2019, when an inmate posed a safety risk to themselves, other inmates or correctional staff, or maybe simply didn’t feel safe , they would likely have spent time in segregation with a single hour a day out of the cell.

Story continues below advertisement

“That … could have been mainly taken up pretty much for a shower or exercise or fresh air,” said Saulnier.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

But on the heels of legislative changes, enter the structured intervention unit,  with a goal of reducing some of the harm that can result from isolation.

“Within the legislation our daily goal is to have the inmate out for six hours a day. Four hours interaction with others or time by themselves and two hours of meaningful interaction,” added Saulnier.

While corrections works on a plan to get the offender back into general population, the added time out of the cell allows them to access programming and what the warden calls ‘enhanced services.’

“That includes health itself or mental health services for the inmates,” he said.

Salunier said the goal is to provide the same services in the SIU that an inmate could access in the mainstream population for educational opportunities, from developing social and behavioural skills to cultural programming.

All of it is possible with the increased time out of cell.

“That’s where you’re getting the engagement with mental health; that’s where you’re getting the engagement with health services; that’s where you’re getting the engagement with our Indigenous partners, our elders and our elders’ helpers; that’s the time they’re getting face-to-face with their program delivery officer; that’s the time they’re getting face-to-face with their parole officer,” he said.


Sponsored content