One recommendation made in May in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre inspection report calls for the facility to “cease charging clients for local or long distance calls.” (Yukon News file)

Department of Justice undecided on whether to make inmate phone calls free

The issue was raised during question period on Nov.15

The assistant deputy minister of justice said it’s too early to tell whether a recommendation to make inmate phone calls free at Whitehorse’s jail will be implemented.

Allan Lucier, whose portfolio includes corrections, said that, at face value, it would appear to be an easy decision, but it’s not, noting that it’s currently before a working group.

“Many of the individuals in the center are under court order to have no contact,” Lucier said. “If we had no system, such as an open line, there would be no way to ensure that we weren’t contributing to the possibility that people would make contacts to victims and others they have no contacts with.”

In May, David Loukidelis, appointed by the Department of Justice, released an inspection report about the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC). It includes one recommendation calling on corrections to “cease charging clients for local or long distance calls, in order to enhance ongoing connections between clients, their families and their communities.”

The issue came up during question period on Nov. 14, with NDP Leader Liz Hanson asking whether Loukidelis’ recommendation will be acted on.

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said, at one point, that the recommendation needs to be addressed by the working group.

Hanson said in the House that inmates are charged $2.40 per local call.

Lucier, however, told the News that, according to his information, clients pay $1.35 for each 20 minute, pre-paid phone call.

Some calls are free, he added, to Legal Aid, for instance, probation services or to the legislative assembly.

The system is also controlled because there are remanded individuals at WCC, Lucier said. Eliminating the possibility of them reaching out to witnesses must be protected, he added.

The current phone system came into effect in late June of this year. The company is Texas-based Synergy, which has a Canadian operation in Alberta.

The current system is consistent with phone provisions in correctional institutions across the country, Lucier said, both federally and provincially.

It’s a “zero fee system,” in that it doesn’t cost YG anything to have inside WCC, he said.

“The funds generated, in part, pay for the system.”

A small amount of revenue is created, he said, which goes into a revolving account at WCC.

“It is accounted for there, by the Department of Justice finance folks, and a portion of that is remitted to the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Fund, which is a board-governed funding body” providing money to community groups that focus on crime prevention or victim services, he said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon government was wrong in evicting youth from a group home, commissioner finds

The health department has roughly two months to respond to recommendations

Stephanie Dixon ready to dive into new role as chef de mission for 2019 Parapan American Games and 2020 Paralympic Games

“You do it because you believe in yourself and you have people around you that believe in you”

Whitehorse becomes first community north of 60 to have private pot shop

Triple J’s Canna Space opens its doors to first customers

Whitehorse council news, briefly

Some of the news that came out of Whitehorse city council this week

Low snowpack levels mean less hydro-generated electricity in 2019, says Yukon Energy Corp.

The corporation is expecting to use more liquified natural gas to make up for the difference

Snowmobiles and snow bikes descend on Mount Sima for Yukon Yamaha Uphill Challenge

“I think everyone had their eyes opened on what could be done there”

Yukon Orienteering Association starts Coast Mountain Sports Sprint Series off in the right direction

The race on April 11 was the first of five sprint races planned for the spring

Yukon gymnasts stick the landing at inaugural B.C. Junior Olympic Compulsory Championships

Seven Polarettes earned five podium finishes at the two-day event in Langley, B.C.

École Émilie-Tremblay hosts first Yukon elementary school wrestling meet of 2019

“You can grab kids and you can trip and you can do that rough play, but there are rules”

Driving with Jens: Survey says….

If you’re like me, you probably feel inundated with surveys. It seems… Continue reading

Editorial: Promising electoral reform is the easy part

Details of what that would actually look like are much harder to come by

Yukonomist: The centre of the business universe moves 4,000 k.m. northwest

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business named Whitehorse Canada’s top place to start and grow a business

Whitehorse starts getting ready for Japanese students

This summer 13 Japanese students are slated to come north

Most Read