February 2017 Toronto Life article describes Toronto South Detention Centre as ‘$1-Billion hellhole’; January 2020 Etobicoke Guardian article indicates ‘inhumane’ conditions persist

Updates:  A March 20, 2020 CityNews article is entitled: “EXCLUSIVE: Correctional officer at Toronto South Detention Centre tests positive for COVID-19, sources say.”

An excerpt reads:

A correctional officer at Toronto South Detention Centre in Etobicoke has tested positive for COVID-19, and is being treated in hospital, multiple sources tell CityNews.

The man in his 40s had recently returned from Europe and reported to work before the “14-day isolation” guidelines came into effect. Once the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended self isolation for all travellers, he did so on his own accord. The Ministry of the Solicitor General had not yet adopted that protocol.

The Solicitor General learned of the results of his test late Thursday. Since then, several other officers with whom he had contact have been placed in self-isolation.

A Feb. 28, 2021 Macleans article is entitled: “Houses of hate: How Canada’s prison system is broken: Justin Ling: Dangerous, racist and falling apart. By nearly every metric, the nation’s penal system is not just failing, it’s making things worse.”

An excerpt reads:

It’s been a decade since that debate. Today, with COVID-19 running rampant in prisons (nearly one in 11 federal inmates have contracted the virus, despite assurances from Ottawa that everything is under control; five have died) and new reports that inmates are still being tortured through the use of solitary confinement (in violation of both court orders and the government’s own laws), things seem worse than ever.

In fact, by nearly every metric, found in a veritable mountain of reports from Correctional Services Canada and its watchdog, the Office of the Correctional Investigator, our penal system is badly broken.

[End of updates]


A Jan. 14, 2020 Etobicoke Guardian article is entitled: “‘Inhumane’ conditions at Toronto South Detention Centre amount to ‘deliberate state misconduct,’ judge says.”

Screenshot from Feb. 15, 2017 Toronto Life article about Toronto South Detention Centre, highlighted at the post you are now reading

Screenshot from Feb. 15, 2017 Toronto Life article about Toronto South Detention Centre, highlighted at the post you are now reading

An excerpt reads:

A judge has accused the Ontario government of “deliberate state misconduct” for failing to improve the “inhumane” conditions at a notorious Toronto jail.

In a ruling released last week, Superior Court Justice Andras Schreck joined a chorus of judges who for years have been calling out the treatment of inmates at the Toronto South Detention Centre. As Schreck found in his judgment, the Ministry of the Solicitor General, which is responsible for operating the jail, “has chosen to ignore that judicial condemnation.”

“Put simply, the ministry has clearly chosen to save money rather than heed judicial concerns about the lack of humane treatment of inmates,” Schreck wrote in a Friday ruling.

“In my view, we have reached the point where the inhumane conditions at the TSDC go beyond being an unfortunate circumstance and can more properly be described as essentially a form of deliberate state misconduct.”

A link at the above-noted article directs readers to a Toronto Star report that indicates the Toronto South is a maximum-security facility that replaced the Don Jail and the Toronto West Detention Centre when it opened in January 2014.

Rhetoric at the time positioned the changeover to the new facility in highly positive terms.

Reports about actual conditions at the facility, however, are sobering and disturbing.

The reality as reported from several reliable sources vastly contradicts the rhetoric.

Previous posts

Two previous posts are entitled:

Feb. 15, 2017 Toronto Life article: “The $1-Billion Hellhole.” Previous posts share back stories about superjail.

Feb. 17, 2017 Toronto Star: Contested Development – Parts 1, 2 & 3 in series about Ontario Municipal Board “wielding its unelected power”

Many thoughts come to mind when I think about previous posts. I think of what has changed in recent years and what hasn’t.

There is something sobering about observing events with some measure of intensity over several years.

I think of a comment by a Councillor in the above-noted Toronto Star article, who said that a Councillor’s role in decision-making is very limited, compared to the Ontario Municipal Board, the decision making body in place at that time.

The OMB was subsequently reformed and things improved, as viewed from a resident perspective. Subsequent provincial legislation has again changed how land use decision making in the province operates; the results remain to be seen.

What I have learning over the years about the Toronto South Detention Centre has given me pause. Recent indications are that that dismal conditions inside the detention centre have not changed since earlier reports.

Among other things, I have also been thinking back about the light and airy architectural touch that is a feature of the interior design of the entrance to the Toronto South Detention Centre. I had described this detail at a previous post:

The visitors centre at the Toronto South Detention Centre looks spacious and airy

I was impressed at that time with the ‘light and airy architectural touch.’

Toronto Midtown street scene. I took the photo during a three-hour walking tour on June 25, 2019. Jaan Pill photo

Subsequently, it has occurred to me that the architectural detail was a form of rhetoric that was at total variance with the reality of what was occurring then, and is occurring now, inside the detention centre and in the reality, within which it such a system of incarceration is embedded.

History of Yonge St.

With regard to narratives related to Eglinton and Yonge, as well as Yonge south of Bloor, two previous posts are entitled:

Memories of walking along Davisville Ave. in Toronto in 1975

Downtown Yonge St. has changed since 1975, but the range of personas that you encounter remains much the same

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