‘Doesn’t even make sense’: Drumheller prison lockdown goes on despite widespread COVID recoveries

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“Drumheller Institution is under modified routine as a means to protect staff and inmates from COVID-19 infection. As part of the infection prevention and control measures currently in place, inmates of one unit at the institution are presently being isolated,” Campbell said in an emailed statement.

“The health and safety of our employees, offenders and the public remains our top priority during this public health pandemic. Normal routine will be re-established at the institution once managers, following public health advice, determine it is safe to do so.”

Campbell said CSC would investigate allegations of mistreatment by prison staff brought forward by inmates.

“CSC does not tolerate any breach of its policies and all allegations are thoroughly investigated regardless of the source,” he said. “We take the allegations brought forward seriously and will look into it.”

The Front Gates of Drumheller Institution.n/a ORG XMIT: p10ConDrumheller260 ORG XMIT: POS1608111238479176
The front gates of Drumheller Institution. NADIA MOHARIB/SUN MEDIA

Since being transferred to the Drumheller facility in late November, Sidhu said he’s lost around 30 pounds.

He said he’s now exploring legal options, noting the hunger strike was “the most peaceful route there was.” He said he’s hoping public attention toward the issue will make a difference.

“I’m standing up for what I know is right,” he said.

“I can start eating again, but I’m still going to be in my cell all day. It’s like ‘hole’ conditions, like 23-hour lockdown. It doesn’t even make sense.”

Amanda Hart-Dowhun, president of the Alberta Prison Justice Society, said prisons face a tough balancing act in seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19 in a confined environment while also ensuring the mental and physical health of inmates remains a priority.

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