Ottawa’s JAIL hotline takes nearly 1,500 calls in first six months

By Jason White

A hotline set up for inmates at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre has received 1,473 calls in its first six months of operations, including complaints about the guards and allegations of inadequate access to healthcare.

The sheer volume of calls to the Jail Accountability & Information Line, organizers say, reveal the inadequacy of internal and external oversight channels to address problems at the Innes Road jail.

“(The number of calls) was a surprise, and then it became routine,” said Souheil Benslimane, lead co-ordinator, JAIL Hotline. Benslimane said many of the complaints centre around violence in the jail, as well as around access to healthcare. He added, multiple inmates who are on prescription medication have reported being given a lower dosage or different medication than their prescription stipulates.

“There's also people who have been denied access to emergency healthcare,” Benslimane told 1310 NEWS. “So people with broken or fractured bones.”

Benslimane said some inmates have claimed that their access to emergency healthcare was delayed as a punitive measurement.

There are official channels to file complaints with the ministry, but Benslimane said many inmates don't pursue them for fear of retribution.

Organizers of the JAIL hotline plan to catalogue their findings in a report, later this month, which they plan to provide to Ontario's solicitor general.

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