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EXCLUSIVE: Locks at Toronto super jail can be easily broken, says OPSEU

Last Updated Aug 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm EST

The locks don’t work.

It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a supposedly state-of-the-art, maximum security super jail.

But that almost comical declaration is being made by the union that represents correctional officers at Toronto South Detention Centre – the $600 million Etobicoke facility that’s only been open for a year-and-a-half.

According to correctional officer and OPSEU health and safety representative Tammy Carson, there are problems with several locking mechanisms at the detention centre, leaving guards vulnerable.

“Jails are made obviously to keep the offender population in and we like to make sure that when we are doing our rounds and when we are out there, that the offenders are secured in their cells,” said Carson.

Apparently, the locks can be easily broken using materials that inmates come into contact with on a daily basis.

Carson says the Ministry of Correctional Services has known about the problem since May.

In a statement, Ministry spokesperson Greg Flood acknowledged the issue, but said the “Ministry and its service provider are working with local union representatives to finalize and implement remaining repairs.”

That’s not good enough for NDP Corrections critic, Jennifer French.

“It’s supposedly a top-notch facility with a very hefty price tag, and one would assume that…it is secure and safe,” she said.

“Who is going to be on the hook for that?”

The Ministry says costs will be absorbed in the maintenance budget for jails.

It’s not yet clear how much that will cost.