When Sarnia's "Save the Jail" committee meets next Thursday, a possible Charter of Rights challenge is likely to be among the otpics of discussion, said Mayor Mike Bradley.
Bradley, speaking after the Sarnia Police Services Board, which he chairs, said such a move would likely be a "Hail Mary" (referring to the last minute strategy to throw the football into the end zone for a winning touchdown).
He also said a possible provincial election before Sarnia would be impacted by any closure of the local jail might end the impasse.
The province has said it plans to transfer those now incarcerated in Sarnia to a $247-million, 315-inmate South West Detention Centre, now under construction in Windsor.
The question Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson and others have is what is to be done with those who are serving time on weekends and various other logistical issues related to the jail closure.
In Owen Sound and Walkerton, where jails closed in December, inmates are now being jailed at a newer facility in Penetanguishine, which is north of Barrie.
Bradley said the Charter of Rights issue has already been raised by several in the legal community. "They believe that we have a legitimate issue," he said.
The cost to the local community regarding costs of prisoner transfer is also a local concern.
"No one knows what the impact could be," said Chief Nelson in speaking at the Sarnia Police Services Board meeting.
In the meantime, Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, has rebuffed requests to halt the Sarnia Jail closure plans, saying the cost analysis included the cost of the new facility, which is cheaper to run than the Sarnia Jail.
Nelson's concerns also relate to training issues. "Our court officers are trained to deal with court security and the movement of prisoners, They're not correctional officers."
The Sarnia Police headquarters has only six cells, not enough, Nelson said, to deal with the demands likely put on the system.