Expansion work underway at Bowden Institution

Construction is underway on a 96-bed medium-security unit at Bowden Institution as part of Ottawa’s plans to add 2,700 prison beds over the next several years.

Construction is underway on a 96-bed medium-security unit at Bowden Institution as part of Ottawa’s plans to add 2,700 prison beds over the next several years.

Sara Parkes, media relations advisor for Correctional Service Canada, said in an email this week that it’s anticipated the unit will be done in 2013. No other details were provided.

Correctional Service Canada reported earlier that the medium security unit would be a two-storey concrete block structure with a gross building area of 2,535 square metres.

Already completed is a 50-bed addition to the 80-bed minimum security annex, to the tune of about $9.5 million. This includes the five new housing units, a program building and enhancements to other supporting infrastructure.

Bowden has about 645 male offenders. It’s staffed by 450 people, including about 200 corrections officers.

“The expansion of Bowden Institution, and other penitentiaries across Canada, is part of CSC’s multi-faceted strategy to better manage a complex and diverse offender population,” Parkes said.

Central Albertans first learned in the fall of 2010 of the multi-million-dollar plans to expand both the medium and minimum security areas of the federal prison because longer sentences are occurring under new Ottawa rules.

The Harper government abolished the generally accepted court principle of giving people awaiting trial two-for-one credit for each day spent in remand. Now they only receive one-for-one credit in the vast majority of instances.

Sparkes also said that work is underway at Drumheller Institution where 96 more beds will come under a new medium-security unit, plus the minimum-security annex will be expanded by 50 beds. Both of these units will be done in 2012-2013.

The investment in both institutions was expected to run around $50 million.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com