TORONTO: The Ontario government is implementing a series of new measures to prevent harmful items and substances such as drugs, alcohol, weapons and cell phones from entering the province’s adult correctional facilities.
The measures are part of Ontario’s Contraband Strategy and Action Plan which includes investments in more tools and technology to increase detection, enhance security measures, and improve the collection, analysis and sharing of data with justice sector partners to ensure the safety of staff and individuals in custody.
“Our corrections staff manage a complex set of safety challenges that include the risks surrounding contraband,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“Our new strategy and action plan will enhance contraband detection and prevention as well as reinforce our government’s commitment to protecting the safety and wellbeing of our staff as well as those in our custody.”
Currently, a number of methods are used to prevent, detect, confiscate, and reduce contraband within Ontario’s institutions such as body scanners, hand-held and walk-through metal detectors, searches, and canine units.
Ontario’s Contraband Strategy and Action Plan builds on existing technology and tactics by implementing new initiatives including:
• Enhanced screening and searches of everyone entering the secure area of the institution where inmates are located;
• Installing ion scanners at 10 additional adult correctional facilities to detect and identify trace elements of drugs;
• Introducing cell phone detectors at all provincial adult correctional facilities to detect and locate contraband cell phones;
• Piloting drone detectors later this year to prevent the delivery of contraband onto institution property;
• Increasing collaboration among the justice sector to share information and analyze data to improve evidence-based decision-making. The province will engage with representatives from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, frontline correctional staff and justice sector partners on the implementation of these new initiatives. These latest measures reinforce the government’s commitment to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional services in Ontario.
• Contraband is any item in an inmate’s possession that is not issued, in an area of the institution that is not permitted, or that has been modified from its intended purpose, and can be in the form of drugs, alcohol, weapons and other items such as cell phones, but also includes institutional items at times or in quantities where they are not permitted.