The provincial justice department is moving forward with plans for a new jail in Dauphin, which was first announced last year.
“We’re following through with our commitment to build a new correctional facility in Dauphin,” Justice Minister Andrew Swan said as the province issued a request for proposals on the new jail.
“he new facility will offer a better and safer environment for correctional officers to do their work. It will mean reduced health and safety risks for both employees and inmates.”
Capacity for the new facility will be 180 beds, which should ease pressures on jails in Brandon and The Pas. That, in turn, will allow better mental-health programming and skills training.
“More capacity in our corrections system allows for better programming such as jobs training and education,” Swan said. “We know that when we equip people with good life skills, they are less likely to reoffend, bringing down recidivism rates.”
The construction of a new facility was a recommendation of the Adult Corrections Capacity Review Committee report and land for it is being provided to the province by the city of Dauphin and the RM of Dauphin.
In addition to the request for proposals, Swan said he will also be consulting this year with residents near the site, as well as with other stakeholders.
Replacing the 100-year-old Dauphin Correctional Centre is part of a larger plan to address overcrowding in Manitoba’s jails.
“We want to give people in our correctional centres all the tools that we can, so that when they walk out of the correctional centre, there’s less chance that we see them again in the justice system,” Swan said last month.
The current Dauphin Correctional Centre is located on Main Street next to the town’s courthouse and RCMP detachment.
It’s a minimum-security facility originally built to handle about 50 men. More recently, it has been renovated to handle about 20 additional prisoners, including temporary holding units for young offenders and adult female offenders.
“The counts lately have been 90, sometimes pushing 100,” Swan said.
Swan said federal changes, including eliminating conditional sentences for certain offences and adding more mandatory minimums, mean more inmates in the provincial system.
Since 2008-09, there are nearly 600 more prisoners behind bars in provincial jails. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, the average population nearly doubled to from 1,184 inmates to 2,214 inmates.
» Brandon Sun, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press