POLITICS

Corrections workers protest overcrowding in jails

07/19/2012 12:01 EDT | Updated 09/18/2012 05:12 EDT
Correctional workers in Ontario are hoping to draw attention to their concerns about overcrowding and understaffing at the province’s jails.

Workers were to hold a rally on Thursday in North Bay to bring attention to what they are calling severe problems in correctional facilities.

Some jails are so crowded, correctional officer Mike Bisaillon said they're putting three inmates in one cell.

"It really creates an awful lot of tension,” Bisaillon said. “I mean, I [wouldn't] ask anybody to have three people live in the space of the size of the average bathroom."

Bisaillon, who is also the president of the Oontario Public Service Employees Union local in North Bay, said workers have concerns “about those whose care we're in charge of every day. You have to treat people very humanely and when you don't, everybody pays."

In an e-mail response to CBC News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said overcrowding can be an issue.

Brent Ross said jails across the north are generally operating below capacity, however. He said the ministry has strategies in place to assess capacity needs and ensure beds are available.

Bisaillon said Thursday's rally will take place at noon in North Bay.

"Very few people get to see what actually goes on in a correctional facility," he said. "And the only way we can get our message out is to hold a demostration like we are."

Bisaillon said other rallies are planned throughout the province this summer.