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Improvements planned following Fort Smith jail escape

The Fort Smith Correctional Complex in June 2021. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The Fort Smith Correctional Complex in June 2021. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s Department of Justice says it is planning improvements to the Fort Smith Correctional Complex after an inmate escaped custody last year.

The department reported an inmate escaped from the jail on the evening of April 30, 2022 and was arrested at a residence in Fort Smith the following morning.

Mitchell Wedzin, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of escaping from lawful custody and was sentenced to 180 days in jail on September 14, 2022.

Charges of forcibly breaking out of an outdoor holding area, mischief by damaging a chain link fence, and failing to comply with a probation order were dropped.

The department said following the escape, the corrections service completed a critical incident review that found a security gap in the fence outside the correctional centre, as well as “some operational deficiencies.”

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According to the department, inmates have since been restricted from the area where the escape took place but are still able to access the outdoors. Improvements are being planned.

The department said routines and policies were also reviewed to address any gaps, but said it could not provide more information on the “operational deficiencies” for security reasons, adding they have been addressed and are being monitored.

“The Corrections Service is committed to ensuring the safe and secure custody of inmates within our care,” the department said in a statement.