Guards’ union ‘lied’ to justify Edmonton remand ‘wildcat’ lockdown, charges lawyer

The union representing Alberta’s correctional officers “lied” to justify a lockdown at the Edmonton Remand Centre that led to more time in cells for some inmates, charges a veteran city lawyer.

Inmates at the provincial jail in northwest Edmonton were locked down for 12 hours in mid-December after what Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) leaders called a series of assaults on guards.

A number of inmates were then placed on a “tier rotation” schedule that meant longer hours locked up in cells.

Lawyer Tom Engel slammed the moves in a June 5 letter to the ministry of justice and solicitor general.

“The core of my complaints is that (correctional peace officers) and AUPE lied to the ministry and to the public, through the media, about the conditions at the Edmonton Remand Centre that they claimed justified the wildcat lockdown of prisoners,” Engel wrote in a June 5 letter to associate deputy minister Dennis Cooley.

“Many prisoners were confined to their cells for longer hours over an extended period which was not authorized by the ministry,” the letter continues. “Regarding the ministry agreeing to longer lockup … that too was based on lies to the ministry and the public.”

Engel is demanding that the government investigate.

In December, AUPE president Guy Smith said guards locked down the remand centre in response to unprovoked attacks on correctional officers. Most of the assaults happened when officers opened an inmate’s door or were alone with the inmate, Smith said.

Things came to a head when one inmate knocked a correctional officer unconscious, he said.

“It’s partly because inmates think they can get away with it,” Smith said at the time. “That there’s not enough consequence for it … somehow it’s open season on officers.

Smith also told industry publication OHS Canada that the facility’s …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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