Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Law mandates monitoring inmates' calls

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ALL inmates' phone conversations in provincial jails will be recorded under new legislation the NDP introduced Wednesday.

Justice Minister Andrew Swan said the move will close a hole in current law and make it crystal clear that all calls are subject to being recorded by corrections officials and stored in the event of a criminal prosecution.

"Right now they have the ability to monitor if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there's an offence taking place," Swan said. "We think that's not good enough. We want to move ahead to make sure that they can record all calls."

Swan said the change is needed to give law enforcement the ability to uncover illegal activity such as drug smuggling and to substantiate instances where an inmate threatens someone or breaches a court order, such as calling someone they're prohibited from contacting.

"We want to make it very clear that if somebody is using the telephone for that purpose that there's no questions that we can go back and use that information," he said.

Tory justice critic Reg Helwer said the legislation, expected to become law next year, appears to recognize in law what already takes place in provincial jails. Helwer said the matter was raised by former justice critic Kelvin Goertzen about two years ago in a public budget meeting with Swan. Goertzen is now his party's education critic.

"This already happens now," Helwer said. "They're making it legal."

Swan said the legislation would not affect an inmate's right to speak confidentially with a lawyer.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 A5

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