A riot started by inmates at the Prince Albert Correctional Centre on Monday has left two staff members with minor injuries and the cell block damaged, according to the union which represents employees working at the facility.
Verne Larson, Legal Inspection and Regulatory Component Chair with Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU), said the incident began with about six inmates. It then expanded to include other prisoners on the block, half of whom broke out of their cells.
“This is the same group that’s caused problems over the last year and a half, I’d say, in that centre,” said Larson. He said the incident was gang-related, but would not say which gang.
The incident, which Larson described as a riot, started at about 2 p.m. on Monday. He explained that inmates broke windows into a staff office and windows going outside. The Prince Albert Fire Department responded to a fire that was started inside of the cell block.
The Saskatoon Emergency Response Team was called to assist the Prince Albert team.
Larson said a hole in the roof caused water damage to the building. It’s unclear whether or not charges will be laid, he said.
One staff member was left with cuts on his face from broken glass and the other had an injured back, Larson said. Parkland Ambulance said no one was taken to hospital and paramedics were called to the facility on standby.
The Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety said the unit primarily holds gang-affiliated prisoners on remand.
“Corrections staff responded to the disturbance and it was brought to an end at approximately 7:00 pm last night,” reads an emailed statement from spokesperson Noel Busse.
“The ministry has referred the incident to the police and will be conducting its own investigation.”
Busse said the ministry could not release further details to protect the safety and security of the facility.
Larson said the same group of inmates caused disturbances at the jail in March and September 2020. In March, he said the inmates surrounded staff members.
“The people that work inside the pods, so they’re right in the centre of the cell block and they have prisoners on the one side and prisoners on the other side and they’re divided. They wouldn’t allow them to leave and they were trying to break into where the people were,” said Larson.
The riots are unrelated to COVID-19, he said.