Ontario Prison to Open Using Direct Supervision

WINDSOR, Ontario — The South West Detention Centre, Ontario’s latest maximum-security facility, will start receiving inmates in June. The facility particularly stands out for its variety of living scenarios depending on inmate behavior.

Several portions of the facility will operate under a direct supervision model, making it the second jail in the province to establish this method in which correctional officers will be placed in the housing units with the inmates instead of a control room. Of the facility’s total 315 beds, for instance, six 32-bed units for men and one 32-bed unit for women will benefit from direct supervision. Living areas in the units each feature soft seating around a flat-screen TV, a small exercise area, a kitchenette and picnic-like tables for dining or simply playing board games.

The new facility also features an infirmary unit, a mental health unit and facilities for women, which include access to outdoor space with gardening opportunities and a life skills room featuring sewing machines, food prep and hairdressing equipment. There is also a courtyard featuring a basketball net and exercise equipment such as stationary bikes, weights, treadmills and yoga mats.

Construction on the project began in 2011. The project is part of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ strategy to address health and safety issues and bring correctional facilities up to current standards. Forum Equity Partners Inc. was the developer on the project, Bondfield Construction Company Ltd. completed construction and Norr Limited was the architect. All three companies have offices in Toronto.

The $247 million facility, which serves the Windsor, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia areas, will replace the 165-year-old Chatham Jail and 89-year-old Windsor Jail. The Windsor Jail currently has a 138-inmate capacity, but often held 200 inmates on weekends. In fact, judges would often cut sentence time of those incarcerated there because of the poor conditions, reported The Windsor Star, which almost daily included forced lockdowns and cancellation of visiting hours. While the new facility helps address the needs of overcrowding, the estimated cost to feed and house each inmate is also expected to shrink from the current $199 per day to $125 per day.

Security at the facility includes special metal detector screening devices for all inmates, visitors, packages and everything that arrives to the receiving area. Plus, there will be about 600 cameras for additional supervision.

The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, and several green building techniques were used in design and construction of the facility. More than 75 percent of the site construction waste will be diverted from landfill. Plus, low-emitting volatile organic compound materials will be used for adhesives, paints, carpet and sealants, and the design reduces indoor water use by more than 20 percent. The exterior of the facility includes landscaping with native, drought-resistant species, which will reduce outdoor water use by 50 percent or more. There is also space for secure bicycle storage and shower facilities to encourage staff to ride their bikes to work. The facility also minimizes solar heat gain through a PVC roof that reduces the heat island effect.

Situated on 30 acres of land, the jail also features an outdoor soccer field and cricket pitch that will be open for public bookings, according to The Windsor Star.