The Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) is Ottawa’s local jail, where about 585 people are held on any given day. About 60 to 70 percent of the people held in OCDC are on “remand,” meaning they are awaiting their day in court and have not yet been found guilty.
OCDC has been chronically overcrowded for many years, with 3 and sometimes 4 people living in 8 x 10 cells, with one or two people sleeping on the floor. Conditions at the jail are among the worst in the country, with unsanitary living conditions, violence, extensive use of solitary confinement, inadequate medical and psychiatric care, and limited programming being some of the core problems.
Lockdowns at the jail have become common place, meaning prisoners are routinely confined in tiny cells for extended periods of time, without yard time, showers, visits or phone calls.
CPEP has held two large public forums and several community meetings about conditions at the jail. We have spoken to over 100 former or current prisoners, family members or people who work or have worked in OCDC in various capacities. We continue to work with prisoners and their families, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional services, management at the jail, and the Community Advisory Board, to push for a set of immediate changes inside the jail. We are also pushing for long-term action to address the root causes of jail overcrowding in Ontario, including the excessive use of pre-trial detention.
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