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Youth jail `alarming' to lawyers

The Toronto Star, HAROLD LEVY, Staff Reporter, Nov. 18, 2003 page B5

A lawyers' group says a jail for youths in Toronto is a source of "great shock and alarm" and has called on Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter to shut it down.

And Kwinter told the Star late yesterday he is "very troubled" by accounts he has heard about the institution, and that he plans to visit it within the next 10 days.

"The reports received by our members from young persons held in TYAC (The Toronto Youth Assessment Centre) have been a source of great shock and alarm in respect of the violence and atmosphere of fear that exists in the facility," the Law Union, a 300-member Toronto organization, wrote to Kwinter on Friday.

The letter, written by Law Union members Bob Kellermann and Richard Neary, says the centre, a 138-bed facility in Etobicoke, detains all 16- and 17-year-olds in the Greater Toronto Area who are either awaiting bail hearings or have been denied bail.

Kellermann and Neary refer to a court hearing in August in which a senior official gave evidence "that violence was a regular occurrence at TYAC, between two and 20 incidents a week, some involving gangs, weapons, innocent victims and or serious injuries requiring hospitalization."