Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Headingly disturbance sees prisoners barricade unit

Headingly uprising ends without force
Headingley Correctional Centre was back under full control early Saturday, after 25 inmates ended a disturbance without causing injuries or substantial damage to the prison.
Greg Skelly, superintendent at the provincial men’s jail just west of Winnipeg, confirmed that the uprising ended shortly after midnight when the inmates returned to their cells from a common area of one section of the facility. He said no force was needed or used to put an end to the incident.
Unlike riots or major disruptions that have occasionally occurred at Headingley, such as an incident among inmates last month that caused about $26,000 in damage, this latest confrontation was what Skelly described as minor.
“I’m not calling it a riot. I’m calling it 25 guys who refused to lock up in their cells,” he told the Winnipeg Sun.
“This was unusual. I hesitate to call it a disturbance. There were no threats to staff, no injuries to staff or inmates and no damage.”
There was, said Skelly, “really nothing broken, except for bed sheets and that sort of thing.”
The inmates had barricaded themselves into an area of the cell block at about 2:30 p.m. Friday, when they refused to abide by a lockdown. Though crisis negotiators moved in to try to quell the disturbance and a prison emergency response team stood by, officials said the remainder of the jail — while locked down — was not directly affected by the incident.
Skelly refused to speculate publicly on the cause of the dispute, saying that he and other prison officials have yet to fully investigate it.
“It would be premature to specify what happened,” he said, also without giving details on what caused the confrontation to last about 10 hours.
Negotiators were in place about an hour after the disruption began, he said.
“It took us a fair amount of time to get some compliance and co-operation. We finally achieved that,” Skelly said.
“This was a long time. It took much longer than these things tend to. We had the whole place locked down, which means that our staff members had to keep a lid on the rest of the correctional centre. And they did an outstanding job.”

The unit where the disturbance occurred remained under a lockdown several hours after the incident.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said by e-mail that it’s “too early to say what further charges” any inmates might face because of the incident.
The disruption came a couple of days after about 200 corrections officers, sheriff’s officers and probation officers rallied at the Manitoba legislature to demand that the provincial government construct a prison to hold at least 750 inmates. The corrections officers charged that prisons across Manitoba are severely overcrowded, causing danger and stress for themselves and inmates.
The Headingley facility currently has about 745 inmates.

Headingly disturbance sees cons barricade unit

Inmates at Headingley Correctional Centre barricaded themselves into a unit in the institution's main building Friday afternoon.
The disturbance started at about 2:30 p.m. after the unit went into lockdown and inmates resisted. Manitoba Justice officials say about 25 inmates are involved.
"At this time it is completely confined to a single unit of the facility," said a Manitoba Justice spokeswoman. "The balance of the facility is secure at this time."
As of Friday evening, the situation was continuing. The RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service are not involved.

Headingly jail under lockdown
Headingley Correctional Centre near Winnipeg is in lockdown after about 36 inmates barricaded themselves in their living quarters.
A spokesperson for the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, which represents guards at the facility, said crisis negotiators and the correctional emergency response unit were on the scene Friday night.
"It's always worrisome when things like this happen," John Baert said. "We just had a major rally at the [Manitoba legislature] yesterday talking about issues just like this."
The disturbance started Friday around 3 p.m. CT.
There are no reports of injuries.
Another union official told CBC News that there were no guards inside the area that was barricaded.
"Our membership regularly is in harm's way and once again tonight we find ourselves with an institution with an incident ongoing," Ken Crawford said.
The most recent count of inmates at the institution was 730, even though the official capacity is 489.
The jail, on the western edge of the Rural Municipality of Headingley, about six kilometres from Winnipeg's city limits, was also put into lockdown last month when about nine inmates started smashing furniture.

Headingly inmates return to cells: officials
A 10-hour disturbance at the Headingley Correctional Centre west of Winnipeg ended peacefully in the early hours of Saturday, according to government officials.
"The incident at HCC [Headingley Correctional Centre] that started around 2:30 Friday afternoon came to an end quietly just after midnight," an official told CBC News Saturday. "Inmates who had been refusing to lockdown returned to their cells peacefully, without the need for staff to use force. Minimal damage was done to the facility, and no one was injured."
On Friday, a spokesperson for the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, known as MGEU, told CBC News that 36 inmates had barricaded themselves in their living quarters. On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Manitoba Justice Department said the actual number was 25.
Emergency response teams were deployed, as well as specialized crisis negotiators.
The spokeswoman said most areas of the centre were operating normally on Saturday but one section — where the disturbance took place — was on lockdown, meaning inmates were confined to their cells.
She said officials were not able to say what led to the disturbance.
The centre has been the focus of attention recently by the guards' union, which has complained about overcrowding.
The most recent count of inmates at the institution was 730, even though the official capacity is 489.
"This is indicative. The number of incidents that have occured within our institutions are escalating," Ken Crawford, a spokesman for MGEU said Friday. "This is yet another incident that has occured that certainly puts my membership at risk."
The jail, on the western edge of the rural municipality of Headingley, about six kilometres from Winnipeg's city limits, was also put into lockdown last month when about nine inmates started smashing furniture.

What causes barricades and riots in jails is likely due to prison overcrowding, which leads to tension, stress and increased levels of violence. The restrictions of rights and freedoms, and deprivations experienced in prison and poor conditions also lead to this type of behaviour. In my opinion, we need to reform prisons where the emphasis is on rehabilitation and reintegration and not punishment and retribution. We need to give inmates more rights, less deprivations and improve physical conditions. We also need to reduce overcrowding. To do this, the courts must rely less on imprisonment and more on community alternatives, the reinstatement of double time credit, the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences and granting more individuals bail, who are being held on remand. We also need to provide more assistance to inmates when they are released to aid in successful reintegration. 

Currently, prisoners do not have enough rights which is why I advocate for prisoners' rights and human rights. If these inmates involved don't have enough rights or too many deprivations, I completely understand why they start riots and/or barricade themselves into their unit. Prisoners deserve to be treated in a humane manner, under good conditions. You do not lose your rights when you commit a criminal act. 

Warehousing criminals, and getting tough on crime, does not work. When we house non violent with violent criminals, they are negatively influenced and are more likely to become further involved in the criminal lifestyle. Longer and harsher prison sentences do not prevent, reduce or deter crime. Longer sentences actually increase the chances of re-offending because of the negative influences, prison environment and subculture and decrease the likelihood of successful reintegration because inmates become dependent and institutionalized and are released with little assistance. Virtually all prisoners will be released someday and we need to do what is in society's best interests. Releasing inmates who have been imprisoned for long periods, with little assistance and little rehabilitation, will not make our communities safer. 
In my opinion, inmates have a right to protest for more rights and better living conditions. It helps raise awareness and bring attention to the poor conditions and lack of rights they experience. 

It's time for the public and the government to realize that harsher and longer punishments simply do not work. They cause more problems than they solve and do more harm than good. We need to help inmates overcome their problems and address the root causes and factors contributing  to their criminal behaviour. Locking them up and punishing them will not solve any long term problems. One day, the majority of prisoners will be released and we need to help them. Our present penal system is NOT working. There are not enough programs in prisons and they are ineffective because they are underfunded and have long waiting lists. Therefore many inmates are released with no rehabilitation. These prisoners need support and counseling to address their issues, especially the common issue of child abuse or neglect. 

We need to care about the treatment of prisoners, their rights, their living conditions and their deprivations, because the more we deprive and punish inmates, the more likely they are to be released as bitter and angry individuals towards society, making them more likely to re-offend and become involved in criminal lifestyle. The majority of prisoners WILL be released one day into OUR communities and we need to care about them. We need to have sympathy and be compassionate. 

I would be interested in knowing the reasons behind the barricade. If the issues were known, they could hopefully be fixed.

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