The CEO of the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan has welcomed the news that the government intends to find ways to reduce remand numbers in provincial jails.
Greg Fleet said the Justice Ministrys announcement that it wants to see changes regarding remand is encouraging given that many in remand pose little threat to public safety.
Fleet said there needs to be alternative ways of incarceration when dealing with those who breach conditions and those serving time for non-violent offences.
Reducing the prison population should allow for less use of segregation, better programming for serving their sentences and ultimately creating a more Effective, Just and Humane environment he said.
Fleets remarks follow the governments announcement that an increase in inmate numbers is costing the province an additional ten million dollars a year.
Justice Minister Gord Wyant said that there are 1871 inmates at all the facilities, an increase of about 160 over last year.
“At 62 thousand dollars a year,” Wyant said, “that’s enough to impact the upcoming provincial budget.”
With inmates on remand making up about 60 per cent of the population in provincial jails, the Justice Minister said the province needs to be finding ways to reduce those numbers to make sure that the province is only incarcerating people temporarily.
While the ministry will be working with Crown Prosecutors and the courts to have fewer inmates on remand in jail, the John Howard Society with its over 60 years of experience in these matters, is also offering to assist in any way it can.
Fleet is optimistic about the planned changes and is encouraged by the time line indicated by the minister.