LETHBRIDGE: The public has the chance to unlock some of the secrets of the local jail Tuesday. The Lethbridge Correctional Centre is commemorating 100 years with a special open house and an exhibit that compares how they did things in the past with how things works now.
"We hope they're going to get a brief insight into corrections," said Bill Wale, the deputy operations manager at the jail told Country 95 News. "We have changed enormously over 100 years and we want the public to get a grasp of that feeling, and to appreciate what's out here."
When the original facility was built for $250,000 in 1911, it was the first provincial jail in Alberta. They designed the main cell block like the famous Alcatraz prison - with no cells attached to the outside walls so inmates couldn't escape. It has 110 cells, enough to hold 168 inmates, who were only allowed to talk at certain times of day until that rule dissolved in 1956. Today the $28 million modern facility that was built on the same site of the old prison in the 1980s holds up to 387 inmates (both men and women), and employs a staff of 140.
"It's a major milestone for the staff at this centre," said Wale, who added that population spikes in Alberta in recent years also translated to the jail population. The government has added extra beds in recent years. Prisoners there have long worked in the community - from helping local farmers during a drought in the 1920s, to voluntarily maintaining the jail's grounds and gardens today.