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My daughter used to warn her brother that all boys had to go to jail if they misbehaved. Last week I spent an afternoon as a "guest" of the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.

The building facia is one way reflective glass with a television camera pointed at the entrance. Posted signs tell of the visiting hours: " 2-4 and 5.30-7.30 Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday with a maximum of two public visits per week."

Murray Laird the Superintendent introduced me to his deputy, Lou Ann Lucier and Victoria Broughton, a Communication officer who kindly answered all my questions.

"EMDC has a daily average count of 351 males and 31 females. The per diem provincial average cost for each inmate is $159.00. Do the math and that comes to $60,738. 125 full time and 45 part time correctional staff along with 80 support services. 65 active volunteers graciously give of their time to the inmates.

How does one become a guest of EMDC? If you are arrested you visit the Justice of the Peace who if he/she thinks 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 centre at Milhaven Penitentiary for processing.

There is intermittent sentencing to be served on the week-ends to enable individuals to continue working. 135 people arrived last Friday to serve their sentences.
Every one receives a medical upon arrival at EMDC by qualified nurses/doctors.

Come along with Murray on the ten dollar tour. First you enter the "Sally Port" where one doors opens and locks behind you while you wait for the front door to open.

I was introduced to an eight by eleven foot cell, A22. A stainless steel sink and toilet with two poured cement frames for the mattresses. For security reasons there is a low wattage night light. Every cell comes with a heavy steel door with a fold out hatch for all meals.

There is a common day area with one small tv and three telephones for collect phone calls. 24 prisoners spend their day on the range from eight to eight. Lights out at ten.

Every inmate is dressed in an orange jump suit, white T-shirt and slippers. 24 hour day monitoring, escorting, frisking sure takes away any sense of freedom.

Inmates in the general population get to spend one hour per day in the outdoors area with razor wire at the top of the high walls. There is a premium on the ten segregation cells where the inmates spend 24 hours locked up accept for a 20 minute break.

"Make a wish signs" in the foyer attest that the EMDC staff are engaged in fund raising for worthy causes.

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 your family is your responsibility".

Perhaps, if we all tried to follow this wise advise we could have a lot fewer people in custody at the public expense.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com