calgary remand centre

Calgary Remand Centre

The Calgary Remand Centre (CRC) is no stranger to controversy and allegations amidst its mission to detain those awaiting trial or sentencing in the Calgary judicial district. As pressures mount around its aging infrastructure and chronic overcrowding, many wonder if authorities can right the ship or if systemic change is the only clear path forward.

A History Plagued by Growing Pains

The origins of the CRC date back to 1993 when it first opened its doors as the city’s main pre-trial detention center. Initially designed to accommodate 430 inmates, its capacity was stretched in 2005 with renovations to cram in more than 700, sparking a pattern of supersaturation that continues unabated to this day.

The swelling inmate population has come at a cost, with everything from sanitation to staffing levels lagging far behind comparable facilities relative to prisoner density. Guarded cells meant to house 2 inmates regularly accommodate up to 4 or more. Meanwhile, constructive activities and services to improve inmate outcomes remain scarce over two decades since the facility’s inception.

Cooling Tensions Behind Bars

Most bed space is allotted exclusively to male inmates owing to capacity constraints. This coerced integration surfaces interpersonal frictions: younger males find themselves bunking beside older men from divergent backgrounds absent mediation resources to foster healthy relations.

Guards are similarly affected, often patrolling solo across 3 housing wings spanning over 230 inmates. Their working conditions coupled with low recruitment has led to an understaffing crunch that sees officers regularly lodging grievances around lack of support while on duty.

See also  Bowden Institution

Inmates hardly fare better, directing their complaints against issues like sanitation failures and decrepit infrastructure breakdowns that result in days-long outages of electricity or hot water mid-winter. Peaceful hunger strikes in protest of such conditions periodically roil tensions behind bars.

Troubling Patterns Emerge

More alarming than the humdrum troubles of CRC operations are grave allegations of threats to inmate safety through negligence or willful harm.

Sexual assault claims in particular have become disconcertingly commonplace, with vulnerable individuals reporting predatory advances from cellmates as detention officers turn a blind eye. While many cases go unreported, the number subjected to investigation is yet lower still. Prosecutions are virtually nonexistent without corroborating physical evidence, notwithstanding the inherent challenges proving non-consensual acts between inmates loafing unsupervised together in close quarters.

Violent physical assaults also run disturbingly unchecked due to skeletal staff presence across vast swaths of cell blocks. Life-threatening attacks routinely require hospitalization, with some inmates left clinging to life on ventilation support. While authorities endeavour to isolate aggressive detainees, their efforts fall patently short as reports of beatings, stabbings and mob violence continue trickling out.

However, nothing crystallizes the human toll behind bars as poignantly as periodic suicides and unexplained deaths that befall society’s most vulnerable crammed inside neglected cells. In one such case, a detainee succeeded in a hanging attempt owing in part to dilapidated cell design ill-suited for housing suicidal inmates.

The senseless loss of life illuminates the ultimate cost of failing to couple detention with meaningful rehabilitation that rights devastated individuals for re-entry into society. Instead, the indifferent warehousing of detainees fosters a pressure cooker environment where policing manpower grinds against the jagged edges of human trauma.

See also  Regional Psychiatric Centre

Signature Inmates Raise the Spotlight

Occasionally, an altercation with a high profile detainee thrusts the troubles at CRC into public spotlight.

In one recent episode, convicted triple-murderer Douglas Garland, himself no stranger to controversy, allegedly suffered attack by multiple fellow inmates in 2017. Rumours swirled of a retaliatory vigilante act incited by his heinous crimes.

While divulging few details, authorities did confirm having to take protective action afterward, alluding to realities where justice often takes on a primitive form behind bars when conditions devolve.

A Purgatory with no Easy Fix

The chronic issues plaguing CRC stem from and feed into larger systemic failures that situate it within neglected neighborhoods bearing the brunt of socioeconomic blight. Residents in adjoining districts view the compound as a menacing vessel heaping society’s unwanted into their backyards. Politicians, meantime, find no glory in championing seemingly intractable problems out of sight and mind for most voters.

With overcrowding forecast to continue and no capital infusion on the horizon for substantial upgrades, piecemeal changes provide little lasting relief. Guards and inmates remain locked in stalemate as ever more detainees funnel into the creaking facility one remanded case at a time. For now, Canada’s purgatory endures as a warehouse indifference forgot.


What is the Calgary Remand Centre?

The Calgary Remand Centre (CRC) is a pre-trial detention facility in Calgary, Canada operated by the Alberta Ministry of Justice that houses inmates awaiting trial or sentencing.

How many inmates does CRC accommodate?

Though initially designed for just 430 inmates when opened in 1993, capacity swelled to over 700 inmates following 2005 upgrades and continues to run severely overcrowded today.

See also  Edmonton Institution

What problems does CRC face?

Chronic issues span understaffing, infrastructure breakdowns, overcrowding, inmate unrest over conditions, violence/assaults between inmates, sexual assault allegations, and periodic inmate deaths/suicides.

Why does overcrowding happen?

Overcrowding arises as inmate populations swell against capped facility capacity from increasing remand volumes triggered by factors like backlogs in Alberta courts.

Are reforms being made to improve conditions?

Piecemeal reform efforts thus far have failed to provide lasting relief. Calls continue to grow for substantive upgrades or alternative solutions to chronic systemic issues.

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