Mr. Speaker, Fort Smith has a long history of supporting correctional facilities located within their community. As a result, inmates in these facilities have had the benefit of community acceptance as they work through their rehabilitation process and make plans for release. For the adult female offenders housed in Fort Smith, this community support has been especially beneficial in their rehabilitation process.
The current building housing adult female offenders has been used as a correctional facility since 1991. Prior to this, it was a youth group home originally constructed in the late 1960’s. It has clearly outlived its usefulness as a correctional facility. The 17th Legislative Assembly has approved the funding necessary to construct a new facility. This is a commitment to territorial adult female inmates and the people of Fort Smith.
In August we were pleased to be able to announce that the tender for the design and construction of the new facility has been awarded to C.A.B. Construction of Fort Smith with a successful proposal of just over $23.5 million dollars. The new facility will have capacity for 23 women, and will be located on MacDougal Road next to the existing facility for male inmates.
While the women’s building will be completely separate from the men’s unit, using this location will allow the Department of Justice to maximize efficiencies through shared food services, utilities, program and administrative supports. Additionally, the Department will be able to retain and build on the skills of the experienced staff members currently employed at the facility. This is an approach that both meets program requirements, and lets us continue pursuing this Assembly’s goal of effective and efficient government.
This project is now in the design phase and we anticipate construction to begin in the spring of 2016. Best practices will be used in this facility supporting a residential style of housing for inmates, as well as spirituality and special traditional programming areas. The building will meet all necessary and appropriate security requirements, from construction materials through to the outfitting of interior rooms. As well as meeting current needs, the design will allow for easy expansion of the building should we require more space in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the community of Fort Smith for their continued support. It is important to have women serve their sentences close to their families and support networks, while remaining in the Northwest Territories. It is imperative to the success of the Northwest Territories and it’s people, socially, culturally, economically and spiritually, that healing of our northern women offenders take place.
When the current Territorial Women’s facility was opened in Fort Smith, the main goal was to help female inmates address the needs that led to their incarceration in a supportive and culturally appropriate environment. This new facility will continue this legacy in keeping with the Department’s goal to support the healing and rehabilitation of offenders.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.