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South West Detention Centre

Archived Backgrounder

South West Detention Centre

Ministry of the Solicitor General

The new, innovative South West Detention Centre (SWDC) is part of Ontario's ongoing modernization of its correctional services and replaces the aging Windsor and Chatham jails.

The SWDC, a maximum-security facility, has multiple inmate living units, which includes six 32-bed male general-population direct supervision units, one 16-bed direct supervision male mental health unit and one 32-bed female general-population direct supervision unit as well as the following specialty units:

  • A 20-bed male segregation unit
  • A 24-bed male indirect supervision unit
  • An eight-bed male indirect supervision unit
  • An eight-bed male infirmary unit
  • A two-bed female infirmary unit
  • A four-bed female indirect unit
  • A four-bed female mental health unit
  • A three-bed female segregation unit
  • A two-bed female intermittent unit

The design provides more space to manage more programs and better access to health care and other services for inmates that support rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.

The design and construction follows guidelines and sustainability principles of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)® rating system, with a goal of achieving LEED® Silver certification.

LEED® buildings focus on healthy indoor environments, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and efficient use of energy, water and other resources. Highlights include:

  • Diverting more than 75 per cent of site construction waste from landfill
  • Using safer low-emitting volatile organic compound materials for adhesives, paints, carpet and sealants
  • Reducing outdoor water use by 50 per cent or more by landscaping with native, drought-resistant species
  • Providing secure bicycle storage and shower facilities for staff

Building features:

 Video Remand

Video remand uses videoconferencing for routine bail and court appearances through a video link between the court and the facility. Using video remand increases public safety by limiting the number of times inmates need to be transported to and from court.

 Direct Supervision Living Units

The direct supervision model encourages positive interaction between staff and inmates by placing correctional officers inside a living unit. This lets inmates move freely within the unit, eat meals and congregate in a common area. Direct supervision allows correctional officers to build relationships with inmates and serve as positive role models while being close by to prevent and deal with negative or threatening inmate behavior.

SWDC has direct supervision living units for both male and female inmates. These units provide a safe and secure area for both staff and inmates.

Each male unit has:  

  • A large program room and a small multipurpose room
  • A video remand suite
  • A kitchenette unit with hot water
  • A fresh-air yard with a basketball net
  • Exercise equipment
  • Showers
  • Two televisions and a soft-seating area
  • Four telephones for collect calls to friends and family and to video visitation booths
  • Cells with one bunk bed, two stainless steel stools, a sink and toilet  

The female unit has: 

  • Three program rooms which will include computers
  • A fridge, exercise equipment, treadmill, stationary bicycle and yoga mats
  • Access to outdoor space  with gardening opportunities and outdoor seating
  • Privacy is provided for the washrooms, showers and tub room cells
  • Porcelain toilets with privacy curtains, a tub room and laundry facility on the unit 
  • Six telephones for collect calls to friends and family and three video visitation booths 
  • Beds are side by side, cells have wooden desks and shelving
  • Limited number of single-person cells

Female inmates also have a life /employment skills room. This room will provide female inmates with opportunities to learn basic sewing, nutrition, food preparation and hairdressing.

The SWDC continues to work on additional programming for offenders that will include literacy, education and additional skills to assist them with employment opportunities. 

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