Ottawa jail forces inmates to bunk in showers

Inmates who are forced to bunk in the shower have to mop up the wet floors before putting bedding down.
Inmates who are forced to bunk in the shower have to mop up the wet floors before putting bedding down. (Photo: iStock)

Where do you put jail inmates when you run out of holding cells? In one Ottawa jail, they get stuck in shower cells.

Shower cells are the smallest cells at the jail measuring eight by 10 feet. This measurement includes the shower and the toilet. Postmedia reported that the Ottawa detention centre has used showers to lock up inmates, and keep them there overnight because of overcrowding in the jail.

The jail calls this “double-bunking” but seem to leave out the “in the shower” part and the fact that there is no bunk. Plus there is that whole thing about tiny showers not being proper accommodations to house human beings, because of hygiene issues to say the least.

To give you an idea of what conditions are in these shower cells, inmates who are forced to bunk there have to mop up the wet floors and hope it it is dry enough not to get their bedding wet after a mattress is placed on the floor. If the wetness doesn’t get to you, the mouldy smell just might.

Paolo Giancaterino, a lawyer for one of the inmates, told the Ottawa Citizen: “To have the ministry allow a human being to be kept in custody in a shower section within the facility is nothing short of disgusting.”

When this practice was pointed out by Postmedia in March, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services called an immediate end to the practice. However, only days later, another inmate was placed in a shower cell.

It appears a source, who works at the jail told Postmedia about this incident and said that jail management thought the ministry’s directive to end the practice post-haste only meant that inmates couldn’t sleep in the shower cells anymore.

The ministry for its part has begun an investigation into this incident and promises to end this practice once and for all.

We certainly hope so.

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