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Understaffing at jail breaks contract: Memo

Sept. 1, 2004
Richard Brennen
Queen's Park Bureau

Understaffing at Ontario's only privately run jail means the facility's U.S. operators are routinely violating their contract with the province, a confidential company document says.

The internal memo, prepared by company officials at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, highlights serious problems resulting from understaffing and concludes: "We are in a situation where on a regular basis we are not in compliance with the contract."

The memo says the prison, which opened in 2001 and is run by Management Training Corp. of Utah, has too few staff to protect the public properly when prisoners leave the prison.

It states the "present shift schedule ... is not meeting needs, is inefficient, has staff on shift where they are not needed and insufficient staff where they are, doesn't meet the needs of community escorts particularly when (inmates) are admitted to hospital."

The memo also says there was not even enough staff to provide proper searches to keep drugs and weapons out of the maximum-security jail.

Both the operators and ministry of community safety and corrections said the internal review was meant to identify problems and that all concerns have either been dealt with or are being dealt with.

"At no point in time was public safety ever compromised. Public safety and the safety of our staff is the number one priority at all times and that's why we do internal reviews," said Peter Mount, spokesperson for the private jail.

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