Rights commissioner says drugs are easy to get at Barton jail

Ontario’s Human Rights Commissioner is calling for reforms at Hamilton Wentworth Detention centre, saying that drugs are easy to come by at the extremely overcrowded facility.

Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane says the facility is too crowded and doesn’t have the resources to adequately prevent drug overdoses. The facility often sees three prisoners sleeping in a cell meant for one. Mandhane says the detention centre should switch from a “security-focused approach to addictions to one rooted in human rights.”

An inquest into drug overdose deaths at the Barton jail last year found evidence of drug trafficking, with some inmates even using drugs in the open or passing them between cells with fishing line.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones visited the jail Monday, saying the safety of correctional officers is her top priory as the province looks to modernize its prison system.