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Drug Testing News

Random drug testing in prison to be enforced


By Chris Munkedal

Fort Saskatchewan Record — A tougher corrections act will allow guards to randomly drug test prisoners, and if they test positive they may lose any chance of an early release.

The new legislation to the current corrections act does help officers easily complete the testing of inmates for narcotics use, says Don Westman, corrections officer for the Fort Saskatchewan Corrections Facility.

Westman is also a city councilor who says, in the past guards had to have ‘just cause’ to test a prisoner, but in a broad sense. This will make this task a bit more easier, he adds.

Westman said the prison population has become well aware of their rights while in the facility.
“They’re starting to question everything to the point where they are getting lawyers involved with certain discrepancies on how tasks are completed by officers, and whether or not there was just cause,” he said. “That’s where the random part would kind of ease up on that.”

“But, on the other side of the coin, it can inspire some prisoners, with their lawyers, to find more loopholes in the system.”

He said there may be more “legal wrangling” going on and the officers just don’t have the legal representation that the inmates do. “Our department won’t supply us lawyers, where as inmates have access to legal aid.”
If a prisoner tests positive for drug use, or they act in a threatening behavior towards a guard, new legislation states the loss of remission is now a required consideration for disciplinary boards to contemplate. Remission is the early release of an inmate from the facility.

“The minister felt strongly about this legislation last September and introduced it,” said Alberta corrections spokesperson Anjelle Meunier.
“There’s drugs in prison, that’s a fact,” she said.
Alberta Solicitor General Heather Forsyth was unavailable for comment.

A tougher corrections act will allow guards to randomly drug test prisoners, and if they test positive they may loose any chance of an early release.

The new legislation to the current corrections act does help officers easily complete the testing of inmates for narcotics use, says Don Westman, corrections officer for the Fort Saskatchewan Corrections Facility.

Westman is also a city councilor who says, in the past guards had to have ‘just cause’ to test a prisoner, but in a broad sense. This will make this task a bit more easier, he adds.

Westman said the prison population has become well aware of their rights while in the facility.
“They’re starting to question everything to the point where they are getting lawyers involved with certain discrepancies on how tasks are completed by officers, and whether or not there was just cause,” he said. “That’s where the random part would kind of ease up on that.”
“But, on the other side of the coin, it can inspire some prisoners, with their lawyers, to find more loopholes in the system.”

He said there may be more “legal wrangling” going on and the officers just don’t have the legal representation that the inmates do. “Our department won’t supply us lawyers, where as inmates have access to legal aid.”
If a prisoner tests positive for drug use, or they act in a threatening behavior towards a guard, new legislation states the loss of remission is now a required consideration for disciplinary boards to contemplate. Remission is the early release of an inmate from the facility.
“The minister felt strongly about this legislation last September and introduced it,” said Alberta corrections spokesperson Anjelle Meunier.

“There’s drugs in prison, that’s a fact,” she said.
Alberta Solicitor General Heather Forsyth was unavailable for comment.Meunier said an estimated $200,000 per year will be put into the additional drug testing.
The Alberta Justice and the government’s Legislative Review Committee have reviewed the legislation to ensure it does not violate any of the prisoner’s rights.

The cost of per prisoner at the Fort Corrections Facility is around $80 per day.. With the loss of remission, the prison population may gradually increase, if inmates continue to abuse the system.
The specific penalties for a prisoner who does so is as following:
-Placement in a disciplinary unit for up to 14 days
-Loss of remission up to 30 days
-loss of phone, recreation, or visiting privileges
-a reprimand
-Extra duties in addition to the normal work period
The only other prison systems that do random drug testing is Correctional services Canada, and Nova Scotia.