Brutal fights becoming the norm in packed detention centre

By ,Ottawa Sun

First posted:

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Innes Rd. in Ottawa. (DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY)

The rate of gang violence at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre — and in the provincial corrections system overall — is the highest it’s ever been, according to a source at the jail.

“There’s been so many swarmings in the jail. It’s unbelievable. We’ve seen violence lately that we’ve never seen before,” the source told the Sun.

“It’s not a one-on-one, man versus man fight, whoever’s got the best knuckles wins. It’s violence like we’ve never seen, like throw a guy down the stairs and boot-stomping him. It’s always six or eight on one.” 

Crawling with gang members, the 326-bed facility is at almost double capacity at about 550 inmates. 

The violence has reached such heights, guards now wait for backup before breaking up fights. 

Administration has also made a move to isolate any police-identified gang members into one area of the Innes Rd. prison.

“Four-wing has been converted into a gang unit,” the source said. 

It’s a segregated unit with 14 cells and 28 inmates. Most, the source said, are either Somali or Haitian and belong to rival gangs, mostly the Crips or Bloods.

Contrary to life on the outside, these gang members unite on the inside, the source said.

“Blue or red, whether you’re a Blood from the west end or a Crip from the south end, when they come inside it’s an ‘us and them’ mentality,” the source said.

But that’s not the worst of it, according to the source. 

With the gang unit at maximum capacity — something the source relates to more people being charged with gang-related offences — no one new comes in and no one goes out unless there’s a conflict, which is problematic in an environment where drugs, tobacco and contraband are currencies.

In the event of a swarming, the facility goes into lockdown, but in the case of a fight between two inmates, usually the men are removed from the unit and placed in isolation freeing up two spots. 

That’s why gangs have taken to setting up fights to remove certain inmates from the wing.

“The idea of it is to rid the range of as many white people as you can to make room for your brother coming off the street with his a-- full of dope.”
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