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THE LEN LESSER REPORT  

THE LEN LESSER REPORT

 

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THE INFAMOUS ELGIN MIDDLESEX CENTER

There is a place that you do not want your son to do time in London Ont. Too often Elgin Middlesex Detention Center is in the news with yet another inmate murder -13since 2009.

A while back I spent an afternoon as a "guest/ visitor" of EMDC at 711 Exeter Road.

The building facia is made up of one way reflective glass with razor wire surrounding the top of the prison. There are posted signs telling the visitor that the visiting hours are 2-4 and 5.30-7.30 Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday with a maximum of two public visits per week. There is a security camera pointed at the entrance of the building. You press the buzzer and a voice answers asking who you are and who you intend to visit. The door opens and locks behind you and you are in a "Sally Port" secure area ( locked in the front and back) where you show your driverís licence and sign in with the time posted on a clip board.

The visitor makes their way over to a glass enclosure where there is phone to speak to the person that you are visiting. The prisoner is escorted to the glass enclosed area by a guard; makes their way over to a cement seat and picks up the phone. No confidentiality for the inmate or you with little or no space left for a private conversation.

How do you become a guest of EMDC? If you are arrested by the police you are escorted to a Justice of the Peace who if they think that you are a risk to society, remands you over for a bail hearing. If you are denied bail you are then remanded into custody until a pending court date. If you are found guilty, you may do your time at EMDC or be transferred to the reception center at Millhaven Pentientary for processing.

There is intermittent sentencing to be served on week-ends to enable individuals to continue working.

Everyone has a medical assessment by a qualified nurse or doctor. All inmates are dressed in an orange jump suit, white t shirt and slippers with no belts or shoe laces.

Twenty four hour a day monitoring, escorting and frisking sure take away any sense of freedom.

Let me take you along for a tour of the facility. I was introduced to my cell, " A22", that was an eight by eleven foot locked monastic like room with a stainless steel sink and a toilet with two poured cement frames to hold a mattress to house two inmates. Often times there are three inmates in the cell with one having to try and sleep on the concrete floor.

For security reasons there are low wattage night lights that are never turned off. Every cell comes equipped with a heavy steel door and a foldout hatch that opens for all three meals. That is why the inmates refer to their accommodations as "three hots and a cot".

Lights out a 10 p.m.

There is a common day area (the range) for the inmates with one small T.V and a pay telephone to make collect calls. No cell phone or computer access is allowed. The toughest inmates run the range to keep a sense of hierarchy and enforce prison justice. Inmates in the general population get to spend one hour per day in the outdoor courtyard with razor wire at the top of the high walls.

10 segregation cells are at a premium to provide protection from the general population where the inmates spend 24 hours locked up except for 20 minute breaks in the courtyard.

There are large notices in the waiting room. " All visitors will be responsible for the supervision of their children while in this institution. Take notice that your family is your responsibility"

If we all tried to follow this wise advice we may have a lot fewer people in custody at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Center?

Perhaps if one young man from Thames Center reads my letter to the editor they will act in a responsible manner to change their ways and not be part of the penal system?

Len Lesser is an education/career counselor in Dorchester, Ont.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com