Ontario jail inmates are still being transported to and from the courts during the COVID-19 pandemic, although justice officials say they’re reducing these in-person appearances.
“It’s completely ludicrous,” one correctional officer said in an email to the Toronto Sun. “The correctional facilities are set up for video court. Use it. No more transfers of inmates and no escorting to courts, putting so many people in jeopardy.”
Brent Ross, spokesman for the Ministry of the Solicitor General, said justice ministries are working with the judiciary and criminal justice sector partners to “substantially reduce in-person court appearances” by inmates of provincial correctional facilities.
“As of March 23, remote appearances have increased from an average of 55% the previous week to 67% of cases,” Ross said in an email. “We anticipate this upward trend will continue.”
Ontario courts and tribunals are using audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters remotely where possible, he added.
“Judges and justices of the peace continue to prioritize critical matters such as criminal and child protection proceedings,” Ross said.