Some are calling it the “Cadillac” of prisoner transport vehicles. Others, a “rolling fortress.”
With the new, $238,000 van’s double-latched doors, stronger metal frame, reinforced Lexan glass windows, closed-circuit security cameras and more cramped quarters, the province’s justice department said it would be nearly impossible to escape.
The department purchased the vehicle in October of last year, just months before a prisoner kicked his way through an older van’s window and escaped in February, leading to a manhunt in parts of Dartmouth that lasted four hours before the man turned himself in.
“It’s just a great improvement,” Justice Minister Landry said at the roll-out of the new ride at Province House on Tuesday afternoon. “If someone can get through those windows, I’d be very amazed.”
The vehicle seats 16 in eight separate compartments – double that of the old vans – and is configured in such a way that passengers who might be a danger to one another – prisoners from rival gangs, for example – can be separated more easily, said Deputy Sheriff Blain Tolland.
The van is also actually slated to save the province some money in the long-term because it’s better on gas than the old vans. More people can also be transported with fewer trips, and because the sitting area can be removed and re-mounted on another chassis once the old one wears out, said Court Services’ Provincial Transportation Coordinator David Elliott.
A second, similar van is expected to be in service this fall.