Old jail to get more renos in fall

John Fabien came back to his cell to find his stuff had been pissed on. The Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmate was in E-dorm.

John Fabien came back to his cell to find his stuff had been pissed on.

The Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmate was in E-dorm.

“That’s where they keep the sex offenders,” he said.

Fabien was charged with fraud under $700.

And after missing a court appearance, he ended up in jail.

“There was no space,” he said. “So they put me in with the pedophiles.”

Overcrowding at the jail is just one of the aged centre’s many problems, said Liberal MP Don Inverarity on Thursday.

The Justice critic toured the facility several weeks ago.

“It was pretty bad,” he said, citing broken windows with only steel bars separating inmates from the weather.

“The place almost borders on cruel and unusual punishment,” said Inverarity.

In September, the Yukon Party plans to spend $600,000 on correctional centre renovations, according to the Yukon government’s contract registry.

Two contracts for the renovations will be let in September.

“There’s a contract for $80,000 to hire a consultant to decide what needs to be done,” said Inverarity.

“And then they’re going to spend $500,000 on what the consultant says.

“But these things are never under budget.”

In 2001, the then-Liberal government started breaking ground for a new jail.

But when the Yukon Party got in, work stopped.

“(Premier Dennis) Fentie’s government decided not to build a new corrections centre,” said Inverarity.

“Instead it spent millions over the last five years on studies and renovations.”

In April, Justice Minister Marian Horne announced her government had decided to build a new jail in the same location as the old one.

Although the Yukon Party has finally promised a new jail, it will be years coming, said Inverarity.

The government’s 2007/2008 budget allocated $3 million for a new jail design.

But, so far, that money hasn’t been spent.

“It hasn’t even gone out for design yet,” said Inverarity.

“It will take two years to build it, so it will be at least three years until we see a new facility.”

In the interim, inmates will continue to suffer in a facility that is falling apart, overcrowded and lacks proper programming, he said.

Correctional centre staff and inmates will be in the old facility until 2011, said Justice acting deputy minister Tom Ullyett on Friday.

“That’s how long it’s going to take to plan, design and build the new facility.”

The new jail is currently in the pre-design phase, he said.

“We are going to formally start designing it this fall and that will go to 2009.”

However, the site preparation and construction could begin as early as 2008.

“It’s like any big building project, there are overlaps in the timeline,” said Ullyett, citing the Canada Games Centre.

The department is right on schedule in terms of planning and leading up to the design phase, he added.

“And we are also simultaneously working to improve the existing facility to make it the best we can given they are going to be in there for the next four years.

“The department owes it to the inmates and employees to make the facility safe.”

The renovations are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Ullyett.

The overhaul will improve security and allow for better observation and interaction with inmates, he said.

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