New Toronto superjail goes hi-tech

Range where inmates live and sleep at the new Toronto South Detention Centre on October 3, 2013....

Range where inmates live and sleep at the new Toronto South Detention Centre on October 3, 2013. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

Terry Davidson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

TORONTO — Ontario's newest and largest jail is almost 234,000 square-metres of concrete, steel and impenetrable Plexiglas windows and has the technology to cavity-search an inmate without laying a hand on him.

It was media day at the new Toronto South Detention Centre in Thursday, where members of the press were given a limited tour of the $594-million superjail by the correctional officials who'll be running it when the first of the 1,650 full-time inmates it is equipped to house are accepted later this year.

What makes the TSDC unique, said director Rose Buhagiar, is the minimization of the otherwise risky day-to-day movement of inmates within the institution, accomplished through video-link technology for visits with inmates, open-concept cellblock units, increased direct supervision, enhanced security technology and inmate programs and amenities located right inside the units their cells are in.

"We are a state-of-the-art facility," said Buhagiar of the TSDC, a maximum-security facility to house adult males of various risk levels who are in for short sentences, those awaiting trial, on immigration holds or those in transition to other institutions.

Just to the right of the TSDC's bright, open-concept reception area — which looks more like the entrance of a convention centre than a jail — is a room containing rows of video booths where visitors communicate with inmates using similar booths within their units.

Just inside the jail's internal security perimeter on the first floor is what one official described as the TSDC's "nerve centre," a darkened room filled with video monitors.


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