Renovations will allow for more adults to be housed at Summerside centre
SUMMERSIDE — The Summerside Youth Correctional Facility is getting a new round of upgrades that will allow it to take in more of the overflow of inmates from the adult correctional system.
The tenders for the work should start going out before the end of August, said
Allan Curley, manager of divisional security for Community Correctional Services.
The Summerside facility already upgraded one of its four units in 2011 to allow it to house adult inmates if the need arises.
“If we find ourselves with a high count, rather than double bunking in certain areas, we’ll try to utilize this wing to offset any overcrowding that might occur,” said Curley. “We’d be looking at making this unit ready for low-risk adult offenders. Many of those are either intermittent sentence… many of those are impaired driving charges, and those who would be looking at pre-release.”
Thanks to that first round of upgrades, the facility has had the capacity to hold adults for about a year now. However, it hasn’t had to do so yet.
“That’s been good,” said Curley.
“We prefer not to use it if we can avoid it, but it’s always nice to have that flexibility,” said Curley. “We have to be planning ahead. You don’t plan something of this nature on a Monday and build it on a Tuesday. It doesn’t work that way.”
The Summerside Youth Correctional Facility was built in 1988 to house as many as 32 people.
The facility has seen steady use since it was built, however, changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2000 made it harder to incarcerate young people, resulting in a sharp decline in the building’s occupancy.
The building currently has 16 beds for young offenders in two of its wings.
When these latest upgrades are completed, the facility will be able to handle roughly the same amount of adult inmates.
In 2011 when the first upgrades were announced, there was some concern from the public, particularly over safety since youth offenders and adult inmates would potentially be sharing a facility.
Curley said he’d like to reassure the public that there is no cause for concern.
The adult and youth sections of the facility are separate and inmates can’t communicate with each other.
The adult inmates don’t even leave their cells unless supervised.
“We control movement from our security post, so nobody moves without our approval. And we’re aware of who’s where and how many and so on and so forth.”
Corrections has made this move because of internal projections that show a steady increase in the number of adult correctional beds that will be needed on P.E.I. in the future.
Recent changes to the Criminal Justice Act include mandatory minimum sentences for more offences and longer and stints of incarceration for other crimes.