Many of the inmates at Baffin Correctional Centre have mental health or substance abuse issues and they need more help after being released from jail, Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk says.

“We don’t want (offenders) angrier when they are released,” says Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk, who asked for a commitment to better support criminals who are reintegrating into society. photo courtesy Legislative Assembly

She asked Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak on Oct. 24 what supports are in place for Nunavut’s offenders who have served their time and are reintegrating into society.

Ehaloak responded with a lengthy list of programs offered in Nunavut’s corrections system: a substance abuse program, elder counselling, Inuit cultural skills program, life skills program, alternatives to violence, anger management, Inunnguiniq parenting program, pilagiaqsaniq education program, problem solving and relationship improvement, among them.

Nakashuk reiterated that she wants to know what programs exist after inmates are set free.

“Will the minister ensure that adequate counselling and support services are made available to the inmates who are released from jail?” Nakashuk asked. ” I’m asking the minister if they will ensure that they have a good tracking system to ensure those programs are successful?”

Ehaloak noted that inmates cannot be forced to participate in any programming, only encouraged. She said community justice outreach workers are in place to follow up with criminals after their release.

“The community justice outreach worker will contact them and ask them, ‘Is there anything we can help you with? Is there any further counselling you need? Is there anything that we would be able to help you with?’ so it is easier to reintegrate back into their community so that they never come back into our facilities again,” said Ehaloak.

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