Inuvik to house young offenders
Two facilities to be established to bolster rehabilitation

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik (May 08/00) - With NWT young offender facilities "filled to capacity," Inuvik will soon be opening two new young offender centres -- one for males and one for females.

A former alcohol treatment facility will be converted into a 10-bed facility and, this winter, construction will begin on a 12 bed facility to house female inmates, said Derek Lindsay, town councillor and chair of the Inuvik Drug and Alcohol Committee.

"(The female facility) will be a big 12-bed facility for female young offenders -- the first of it's kind in Canada," Lindsay said.

Working with justice and education ministries, Lindsay said the government has agreed to supply the new centre with an in-house teacher, to provide the girls a school curriculum to bolster rehabilitation.

With 48 per cent of all female young offenders in the territory coming from the Beaufort Delta, Lindsay said it's high time the government brought the facility to Inuvik.

"It shocked the living bejesus out of me, when I heard the majority of them are coming from our own backyard," he said.

While there was some opposition from residents to the new facility, Lindsay said his support has not wavered.

"I don't think we're bringing Charles Manson to town here," he said. "These kids are all from this neighbourhood."

"It would be nice to keep the kids here," he added.

Young offender centres are filled to capacity around the North, he said and the new centres will help ease the burden on the crowded facilities.

"There's just too many kids going through the system right now," Lindsay said.

Through the addition of the new facilities, the community will also get a bonus in the form of a standardized education and counselling program.

"Corrections is bringing up a training crew to train our staff, but at the same time, they're also going to train the staff of the group home and they're going to train all the people at the alternative care homes," he said.

Young offenders coordinator with the department of justice, Bob Cook said the male offender facility will be operated under a one-year contract with the option for a second year.

"If we require their services next fiscal year, then we will continue our contract with them," Cook said. "By the close of that second fiscal year, our new facilities (Inuvik and Yellowknife) will be open and the services of Turning Point as an open custody group home will not be required."

Cook said the fire marshall's new building codes spurred the construction of the two new jails, and also there are no vacancies in young offender facilities.

"It's at capacity right now," he said. "We currently have 58 beds in the Northwest Territories and that's including secure and open custody."

Lindsay has worked four years with the Inuvik Alcohol Committee. He said the new male offenders centre will be housed in the former drug and alcohol treatment facility. The treatment centre has been relocated.

"We've been lucky to find a location down in Ingamo Hall," he said. "They had some extra space and we were able to lease an area off of them."

The new space will allow room for administration and a counsellor to meet with clients. Lindsay said the treatment will consist only of counselling and referral.

"In the old days we were Delta House, but the Honourable Kelvin Ng cut our throats and took away our funding about three or four years ago," Lindsay said. "Then we sat in limbo for six months and changed our name to Turning Point."

Lindsay said the facility now serves as a walk-in counselling service.

"You can phone in for an appointment or you can just walk in off the street," he said.

If the counsellor determines the client requires further treatment, they will be referred to a facility in either Hay River or Yellowknife.