Man charged following Fort Smith jail escape
A 28-year-old man has been charged in relation to a reported escape from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex late last month.
Mitchell Wedzin is facing three criminal charges for allegedly breaking out of an outdoor holding area at the Fort Smith jail on April 30 by damaging a chain-link fence.
He faces two additional charges of violating the terms of a probation order.
On May 3, the NWT’s Department of Justice confirmed an unnamed male inmate had escaped from the Fort Smith jail on the evening of April 30. The department said RCMP located and arrested the man at a residence in Fort Smith the following morning.
The department said it plans to complete a “full critical incident review” of the circumstances of the escape and make any required improvements at the correctional facility. According to Julie Plourde, a spokesperson for the department, that review will examine the hours before, during, and after the incident to determine factors that may have led to the escape, as well as recommend any changes that should be made.
Plourde said inmates at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex will not have access to the location where the escape occurred until the review is complete and those security improvements have been made.
“Restricting access to this area will not negatively impact inmates in custody,” she wrote in an email.
The department has said it will not publicly release the review in full as it could compromise security at the jail. But Plourde said some “high-level information” may be made available once the review is complete.
The department said this is the second recorded occasion since 2004 in which an adult male inmate has escaped from a jail in the NWT. Four inmates have escaped from secure youth facilities in the territory since 2010.
Denecho King escaped from the North Slave Correctional Complex in Yellowknife in August 2016, leading to a three-day manhunt before he was arrested. He subsequently pleaded guilty to being unlawfully at large and was sentenced to 18-months for the incident.
The Department of Justice said at the time that a critical incident review found King had exploited a “pre-existing gap” in security at the jail to access the roof and flee.
The CBC reported in April 2018 that construction to address those security concerns did not begin until more than 18 months after King’s escape. The justice minister at the time said the project was “more complex and expensive” than initially anticipated.