Saskatchewan isn’t considering releasing inmates in provincial institutions early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the union that represents Saskatchewan’s legal aid lawyers called on the federal and provincial governments to release non-violent inmates and those who are elderly and/or have medical conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.
Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan, however, said that they don’t have a plan to do an early release of inmates.
“Right now, we have to focus on the safety of the staff, the inmates and the facility,” he said on March 26.
CUPE Local 1949, which represents more than 130 legal aid employees including lawyers and administrative staff, also wants immediate measures put in place to protect incarcerated populations and reduce the strain on the healthcare system.
“We are not at capacity at the institutions right now and we are wanting to try and work things out as we go along,” said Morgan.
“We know the Minister of Corrections and Policing is working to try and find a variety of different options,” he added. “They have the ability to relocate prisoners from one prison to the other and the ability to develop protocols within these institutions.”
Last week, Meara Conway, president of CUPE 19, said an outbreak in any of Saskatchewan’s jails could strain nearby health care systems and threaten the wellbeing of inmates, staff and nearby communities.