A COVID-19 outbreak has grown to 65 cases at the Calgary Correctional Centre, up ten cases from last week.

At least 50 inmates at the jail have tested positive for the virus and all inmates and staff are being tested for the virus. Isolation procedures were enacted and outbreak protocol was launched after 24 cases were connected to the jail and first made public on October 22.

“It’s been predicted by experts forever during this pandemic that once (COVID-19) gets into an institution, the likelihood of it spreading like wildfire is real,” said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and prisoner advocate.

Engel says he’s heard some prisoners with COVID-19 have been moved into solitary confinement and cells are overcrowded with some inmates being forced to sleep on the floor.

“I have been in contact with one of the partners of a prisoner who is in there who tested positive for COVID-19 and the description I’m getting is that the conditions are clearly cruel and inhumane,” Engel said.

“Of course it’s a concern because prisoners have to be treated in a humane fashion.”

Engel says officials should be focusing on reducing the number of people in the facility and releasing inmates who are close to the end of their sentences. He adds there are some prisoners who are particular vulnerable to serious health consequences if they catch COVID-19.

“They need to immediately release prisoners on temporary absence permits. Some of these people are probably maybe having a month or two left on their sentence,” Engel said.

“They should be released.”