Labour department orders Tasers, batons for guards escorting inmates

Nova Scotia’s Justice Department has been ordered to arm correctional officers who escort prisoners to medical appointments.

Under the compliance order from the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, the guards are to get Tasers, batons or pepper spray during outside escorts.

The Justice Department has until June 24 to comply.

Justice officials say the order has been posted at provincial jails throughout Nova Scotia.

It’s a victory for the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, which has been lobbying for the right for its members to carry weapons while escorting inmates to appointments.

Though police and sheriff’s officers have been handling such escorts, NSGEU president Joan Jessome said the union will push to have that job returned to guards by the deadline date.

“There are some guards that already have that training,” she said. “The equipment is already provided in three of the five facilities. They don’t have to train everybody at once, so I think it’s very achievable.”

On April 3, a prisoner escaped from his leg shackles and ran away from his unarmed guard during a visit to a hospital in downtown Halifax. Jermaine Carvery eluded authorities until last weekend, when he was arrested at a motel in Ontario’s Niagara Region.

After his brazen escape, some guards refused to do escorts, saying the job was too dangerous.

The justice minister later handed responsibility for inmate escorts to police and sheriff’s officers, which prompted a complaint from the union that work was unfairly taken away from the guards.



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