Jail guards demonstrate outside justice offices

Dozens of corrections officers took their concerns to the street Tuesday, a week after 12 guards were disciplined following an altercation with an inmate.

The unionized guards demonstrated outside Justice Department offices in downtown Halifax.

They’re outraged that three part-time guards were fired and nine suspended without pay after they tried to restrain a prisoner at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth in August.

The suspensions run from two days to one week.

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, which represents correctional officers, says an inmate punched a guard in the face, and then a number of guards answered a call for help.

The union says guards used reasonable methods to restrain the inmate.

“It’s my understanding that nothing was done out of the ordinary and the offender sustained no real injuries,” said Jim Gosse, president of NSGEU Local 480.

The union has filed grievances.

Justice officials have promised to expedite those hearings so they take place in a matter of weeks.

However, the head of Nova Scotia’s correctional system, Fred Honsberger, said the discliplinary action was justified because the guards used excessive force.

He said the proof is on a videotape of the incident, which he said he can’t release for privacy reasons. He wouldn’t describe what was on it.

“What we saw on camera was disturbing to us in terms of the level of force that was used on the offender. The concern on our part prompted the discipline that was taken,” Honsberger said.

The union says the demonstration was also an attempt to draw attention to what guards say continue to be overcrowded and understaffed conditions at the Dartmouth jail.




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