First Mental Health Unit for Female Inmates in Ontario Coming to Brampton Soon

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You may or may not know that a massive secure custody and detention centre for youth exists right here in Brampton. Talks of repurposing the often controversial facility have been in the works for years, and now, a brand new mental health unit will open soon as part of its redevelopment.

The Roy McMurtry Youth Centre (RMYC) has been at 8500 McLaughlin Road S. in Brampton for about eight years now, since 2009. According to the province, there will soon be a new addition to the massive facility, the first of its kind in Ontario - a dedicated mental health unit for female adult inmates. It’s scheduled to open in early 2018.

The unit is in in currently the planning and design phase, according to the province, and construction will include both a new unit and a revamp of the old facility.

Mental health services and supports are lacking across Peel Region as a whole, after all, so any development is encouraging.

Further, the province is working to increase mental health supports within the corrections system. The new mental health unit at RMYC is part of that plan.

The dedicated unit will be part of a new 192-bed adult female detention centre on the site of the RMYC, and it’ll have the capacity for 32 inmates. Of course, female inmates with mental health issues is quite niche, and the mental health unit aims to meet those specific and complex needs.

According to the province, this new mental health unit was a key recommendation in a 2015 report on improving mental health services for female inmates.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that all inmates have access to the mental health services they need, when and where they need them, to support their successful rehabilitation and reintegration back into their communities,” said David Orazietti, former minister of community safety and correctional services in 2016 regarding the project. “This new adult female detention centre, with its dedicated mental health unit, is the best way to serve female inmates and the community."

This might be one development for the RMYC, but many more are to come subsequent to the new mental health unit.

The RMYC will be divided into two sections to separately house male youth and female adult inmates until smaller, community-based secure custody facilities for youth are completed in the Greater Toronto Area, where the male youth will be relocated,” said the province in a statement.

The RMYC is in fact being repurposed entirely - beyond the mental health unit - as there has been a steady decrease in youth admissions to the facility.

That might actually be a good thing. According to the province, the decrease in admissions is a result of the province’s focus on prevention, diverting youth from the court system, and providing alternatives to custody.

As for the entire project, spanning from the new unit’s establishment in 2018 to relocating male inmates and housing solely female inmates, it’s all expected to be completed by 2022.

Cover photo courtesy of openbuildings.com

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