Better data collection needed to reduce number of inmates on remand at Saskatoon jail: auditor

The Saskatoon Correctional Centre is pictured in this file photo. (Damien Kent/CTV Saskatoon)

The provincial auditor says Saskatchewan needs to hone in on data collection and analysis to reduce the amount of people on remand in correctional facilities – specifically in Saskatoon.

In 2020, individuals on short-term remand made up approximately 82 per cent of totals adults on remand in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. 

Remand refers to those who are awaiting trial or who have not yet been found guilty. Short-term remand refers to people held in jail for less than 31 days.

“Meaningful progress requires ongoing coordination and careful balancing of two competing principles – respecting the liberty rights of the accused and ensuring public safety,” reads the report.

The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General and the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety have implemented three strategies to reduce the remand population in Saskatoon facilities.

These strategies aim for the courts to quickly resolve less-complex cases and to identify people who can live in the community with extra supports.

However, the report said the ministries need to better collect and analyze data so that committee members can make informed decisions.

This includes collecting information from external partners, such as Legal Aid and police.

A high remand population can cause strain on correctional facilities, said the auditor.

For example, it costs about $178 per day to house one person in jail, on top of additional costs to transport them to and from court. This also leads to a risk of contraband coming back into the facilities.

Inmates on remand also don’t have access to rehabilitation programming because it’s not clear how long they’ll be incarcerated.